Ramona Grasslands — one sweet ride
I’ve seen many of you out enjoying the lovely trails in town and I had to remind you that Ramona Grasslands Open Space is one sweet ride. Currently containing about 3400 acres and right off Highland Valley Road, this property has been set aside as an open space preserve and our community is able to enjoy hiking or riding along the trails, picnicking under the grand oak trees and enjoying the great outdoors.
Years ago, I anxiously waited for word from the county hoping they were working on a public staging area, which we had anticipated would open summer 2009. I can hardly believe it’s been so many years in the making. The good news finally came that the county obtained funding for this project in October 2009 and opened the first portion of the preserve in June 2011.
Ramona Grasslands is broken into sections to more easily identify areas for improvements, adhere to deed restrictions and to be more habitats specific in making any changes. The only open area at this time is referred to as Oak Country II and is approximately 450 acres with a small parking area for vehicles and horse trailers. This is a cattle-grazing area so the entry gate is spring loaded and must be latched behind you.
There are nice easy trails through the beautiful scenery and I tend to spend a couple of hours each time I ride. Trails are free of rocks, so it’s great to take Cricket on freshly trimmed hooves knowing she won’t get a stone bruise or become sore.
Wildlife abounds in the grasslands. We have seen various raptors, wild turkey, coyote and deer. There are bald eagle as well, but they reside in a portion not open to the public. The trails are old ranch roads and single track trails that meander through the gently undulating terrain.
The seasonal pond is a great watering hole for the cattle and migrating water fowl and a wonderful picnic spot if it is unoccupied at lunch time. The pond is not open for public use and is off trail, so please respect the area and look at the scenery from the trail or picnic areas provided.
The trails are open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the summertime and I recommend riding early or late afternoon so it’s not too hot.
Sitting under one of the big oak trees at the picnic table, I dream about the day that we in Ramona can ride from our Community Park off Fifth Street, along the Santa Maria Creek Greenway, out to the grasslands, then down to Escondido or Poway and beyond. With work continuing on the Mt. Woodson Trail that leads to Poway and work moving along to connect the Coast to Crest Trail to Ramona, the grasslands is a central hub of trail connections, and in the future, when the Ramona Trails Plan is more fully realized, we will be doing just that. Sounds like a nice day’s ride through our beautiful community and on to the next, loving every minute enjoying the outdoors and fresh air.
My personal plan may never happen, but I dream big. While working out in the grasslands over the years, I came up with a grand vision of creating a large park in the area closest to the airport. There is an old arena out there that is in great shape and could be used for horses, horse shows or dog shows, or herding practice. Scout troops could have meetings out there if seating was placed strategically or an outdoor amphitheater was created. There’s plenty of room. Our schools could have a place for so many activities and uses such as FFA or bicycle clubs or who knows what?
The old house that sits on the property isn’t in the greatest shape but may be improved and provide a meeting place for our community groups and maybe house information and history on the area. It could augment Ramona Community Park and add community facilities as the town grows. Oh, if you could only see what I see! What a grand place it could be. Yes, I tend to get carried away with this trail stuff.
The County recently approved another 5.5 miles of trail and another staging area. Work will begin in 2014 and it will open for public use soon after. Also at this time there are 140 acres across Highland Valley Road that are in mitigation and may possibly be added to the Grasslands acreage, but there are no plans to open it for public use that I know of. So far the rumors are that it may be used as burrowing owl habitat, wild horse habitat for Ramona’s Original Horse Herd or more cattle grazing acreage, but there are no steadfast plans yet.
In the meantime, get out and enjoy the trails that are so close to home every chance you get at the lovely Ramona Grasslands.
Karen Carlson, a Ramona resident, is past president of Ramona Trails Association and a trails advocate active with many agencies, organizations, and committees. For questions or comments, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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