Surrounded by rolling fields with chaparral and oaks, and featuring a stunning view of Ramona in the distance, the Ramona Grasslands Preserve offers a gorgeous setting for hiking.
More than 3,000 expansive acres of beautiful land make up the preserve, located off of Highland Valley Road.
This trail is popular with hikers, bikers and equestrians. With a large parking lot, there is enough room for horse trailers and larger vehicles.
A well-maintained dirt path leads hikers to a four-mile loop.
Unlike the hikes previously mentioned in the “A Hiker’s Paradise” series, the Grasslands is great for many skill levels, and I would consider it novice-level in terms of difficulty. With a gentler change in elevation and wide path, it is a good option for those who are just beginning; for someone searching for a less-intense, more relaxing trail; and for trail runners who want a great workout.
Ambling along the path, visitors are apt to get a good view of the cattle that use this area for grazing, and have a chance to catch a glimpse of hawks soaring over the landscape.
The trail is a wonderful place to view the area’s wildlife. According to the County of San Diego’s website, www.sdparks.org, “Many rare animals make their homes in this area. Bird-watchers are drawn to the grasslands for the spectacular number of hawks that spend their winters here. Santa Maria Creek, which runs through the grasslands, adds to the biodiversity.”
Several species of snakes have been spotted, so make sure to keep your distance should you come across one.
Since this area is a preserve, it is important to stay on the designated trail to avoid harming any of the delicate species that call this area home.
As the trail is not too difficult or rocky, it is a nice option for those who would like to include their canine companions. Due to the breadth and cleanliness of the path, long pants are not required, as you will likely not encounter sharp brush. However, a good portion of the hike takes place in direct sunlight, with little shade available, so it is recommended that you apply sunscreen before your excursion and pack enough water for all
Along with ample water, remember to pack a first aid kit and other emergency supplies. I would also recommend a pair of binoculars for bird-watching, as well as a good camera.
There are several shaded picnic spots along the way, so if you would like to make it a partial-day excursion, pack a good lunch or snack and enjoy the views
As we enter our rainy season, the beauty of the grasslands is sure to come alive. Keep this hike in mind as you plan your next outing.
By Angela McLaughlin
Photos by Angela McLaughlin