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Mission Trails is a park that is well-known for one thing and one thing only: Cowles Mountain and also that is a shame. The is a dead because, if Cowles hill is pretty, that is only a small portion of the 5,800 acres of open space, and also it is tucked far in the Southern corner of the park. The remainder of the park is a great example of kept open space; and a great spot to find solitude and also serenity native the hustle and also bustle of mountain Diego. Mission Trails is also a great spot come see exactly how California used to look, together it is complete of indigenous California coastal vegetation the covers its hills and also valleys; and also it is a great spot to see how the seasons pass and have happen in the coastal desert plain for thousands of years, with seasonal wildflowers and also waterfalls in the winter and spring, and also dry slickrock and also whispering grasses in the summer and fall months. The finest trail to hike in every one of the park to experience everything I’ve provided above – solitude, serenity, and also seasonal functions is the Oak Canyon Trail; and also the best time to suffer it is indigenous November come May.

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Directions: The trailhead for the Oak Canyon Trail leaves from the parking area in ~ the Old Mission Dam. As the parking area at the Dam is small, that is normally full, also on weekdays, and also on weekends, that is almost impossible to find a clues in the Dam parking lot. However, over there is no need to fret around finding a spot in ~ the Dam parking lot, as there is always ample room and parking follow me the father Junipero Serra Road automatically next to the Dam parking lot. Alternatively, over there is likewise a an excellent deal of parking in ~ the Mission Trails visitant Center, i beg your pardon is located only one mile indigenous the Dam; and also this extra mile winds follow me a led road the is mainly used by joggers and also bikers through the center of Mission Trails local Park.

From the Dam parking area, friend will want to monitor the readily obvious paved trail past the Old Mission Dam. If you have never been to Mission Trails, you will want to stop and take a look in ~ the stays of the Old Mission Dam. It was created in the at an early stage 1800’s follow me the san Diego River, and an outstanding amount the the structure remains today. From the Dam, continue along the trail to a footbridge that crosses the mountain Diego River. As soon as you have actually crossed the footbridge, follow the signed trail come the eastern (Right) right into Oak Canyon. If you are hiking the trail in the winter, and spring months, which ns recommend, you will view lush green grass growing, and also seasonal water trickling through assorted creekbeds. If you space hiking this follow in the summer or falls months, you will hear the dry whisper of the currently dead grass rustling in the breeze, and there will certainly be no water existing at all.


However, no issue which time the year girlfriend hike this trail, you will view majestic oaks that have grown in the park for years, and also survived due to the seasonal water the flows v the area. The trail then winds up right into Oak Canyon; and although the follow is fine signed, the astute hiker will desire to proceed along every one of the left (West) forks the lead right into Oak Canyon. At three quarters that a mile up the trail, you will certainly be in Oak Canyon proper, and again, if that is winter or spring, girlfriend will check out seasonal water v the canyon; and if it is summer or fall, you deserve to scramble approximately the smooth dry creekbed where the seasonal water ran through months ago. Continue along the trace which will head out into part of the grasslands the the park, and follow the indicators that to speak “Oak Canyon”, rather of complying with the Fortuna hill turnoff. Throughout the winter and also spring months, these grasslands are a good spot to watch seasonal wildflower blooms, indigenous California Poppies, come lupine, and everything in between.

After a mile, the follow winds up towards the North, and crosses end an area that depending upon the winter storms, deserve to be fairly wet, or in the summer, have the right to be quite dry. This is the “top” the Oak Canyon, and also has some of the best mystery seasonal waterfall in the county throughout late winter and spring. Mine suggestion? Take her time in this area, and also listen come the idyllic serenity that the running water brings; and also if you room on the follow on a weekday, gain the solitude and explore all of the small streams and pools that are existing in Oak Canyon. When you are done at these waterfalls, head back the means you concerned the Old Mission Dam. Overall, this is straightforward to moderate hike that is suitable for every ages, and it is only 1.5 mile one way, or 3 (3) mile roundtrip, through minimal elevation gain.

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Tips: In situation I didn’t make this clear enough with all of my repeated referrals above, the moment to carry out this hike is winter to spring, as the wildflowers will certainly be blooming, and the creeks will certainly be flowing. While that is pleasant in the summer to loss months, the hike will most absolutely have a various feel and a different kind of natural beauty.


Tagged: Oak Canyon, Mission Trails local Park, Cowles Mountain, Old Mission Dam, dad Junipero Serra Road, san Diego Hiking, san Diego, Mission Trails