As many Ramonans are aware, there are a couple of popular trails near town that attract a lot of visitors and become very busy during certain times. I am not a fan of battling crowds, so I look for trails typically less traveled.
Recently, a friend suggested a hike I had not yet tackled, and I was thrilled with the chance to venture out for a new experience.
To reach this hike, you must start at the Ellie Lane trailhead. Heading out of Ramona on Highway 67 toward Poway, you will find a small parking lot and trailhead on the left side of the road before you reach Poway Road and the Iron Mountain trailhead.
At the start of the trail, there is a sign listing the different hikes available. For the ambitious hiker, Ellie Lane may be taken all the way to the peak of Iron Mountain. In this article, however, I will be focusing on a much shorter hike: Table Rock.
The trail begins as a dirt path but quickly shifts into rougher terrain, with large rocks and boulders scattered about. Numerous desert plants and shrubs may be found along the path, but there is little to no shade.
Table Rock may only be a mile from the trailhead, but the incline certainly makes for a good workout! This natural feature looks just the way it sounds — like a stone table. To reach the rock, you will climb a stone incline, which can be slippery if there has been any recent precipitation.
Though the rock itself is not overly large, the views from it are breathtaking. On a clear day, you can easily see the ocean in the distance.
It is very important to bring plenty of water for all hikers and furry companions. For the most enjoyable experience, I would recommend hiking this trail during a cooler part of the day.
The first time I hiked to Table Rock, I decided to bring both of my dogs. Though it was a cool day, the sun was very intense, and we went through several bottles of water. My smaller dog had some difficulty with the incline and rough terrain. We rested at the rock before our descent, but I ended up carrying him for part of the return trip because he was tired. This is something to keep in mind when planning your hike. Oftentimes, I opt to leave my dogs at home when hiking a new trail, until I can check it out for myself and determine if they would do well.
If your destination is just Table Rock, this trail is an out-and-back hike that is two miles round-trip. It is considered moderate in terms of difficulty — though it is not a long hike, the inclines and rocky terrain are obstacles, nonetheless.
As with any hike, come prepared and be mindful of your surroundings, as the rocks offer many hiding places for rattlesnakes and other critters. Hikers should always let someone know where they will be hiking, wear sturdy shoes and bring a first aid kit. In order to make the least impact on the environment, be sure to stay on the designated trail and bring out anything you bring in.
Hiking offers a lot of benefits for both mental and physical health — and it’s a fun social activity. The next time you have the urge to get out on the trail, consider a visit to Table Rock.
By Angela McLaughlin
Photos by Angela McLaughlin