In Ramona we are so lucky to have access to Cleveland National Forest (CNF) public lands. Whether you like to hike or ride, the opportunities abound on the thousands of acres available. Until Ramona’s Community Master Trails and Pathways Plan is fully realized, we are indeed lucky to have public lands to experience by foot or by hoof and sometimes by bike.
Most trails that you can ride a horse on are also available for hiking. In north Ramona the Cleveland National Forest is accessible from several points and the trails are quite topographically varied. Our last trail column focused on the Upper Santa Ysabel Truck Trail and in the same general area another trail may offer a bit of a reprieve from the strenuous trek of the USYTT.
Just at the bottom of Pamo Road, the Lower Santa Ysabel Truck Trail has no staging area so parking along Pamo Road is the only spot to access the trail with a horse trailer. Hikers can park along Highway 78 at the Clevenger Canyon parking area. The north lot looks like it might close soon, or be very diminished since the California Department of Fish and Game owns a little piece of land right there and “plans to move their gate, which will remove most if not all of the parking there” I was told at a recent trails meeting. There are about eight parking spots for cars currently and no trailer parking or equestrian access at this time.
The south lot for access to Clevenger Canyon is on the opposite side of Highway 78 and down the highway about ½ mile and has about 15 parking spaces, with no equestrian access or parking. If you plan to venture out for a hike at Clevenger Canyon be aware that from Ramona you must stop on Highway 78 and cross traffic to get into the parking area. Also always be aware that rattle snakes are likely to be present on the trail.
LSYTT is fairly flat and runs in a mostly west/east direction. There are no trees, no shade and no water along the way. The Cleveland National Forest gate access is right at the bottom of Pamo Road on the left and unfortunately there is no step over gate or pass through if the main gate is locked. There is no parking inside the gate so do not pull your rig in through the gate—you will be blocking the road and you may get locked in and may possibly get a ticket. Park along the road with your Forest Adventure Pass displayed in your windshield.
Following the trail is easy and obvious even though there are no markers. The breeze is non-existent on most days, can be a gale force on other days in the canyon—I never mind too much either way, but it may be of importance to you so be aware of the possibilities based on the winds in the area. The trail is in decent shape and easy to follow with rocky sections here and there. If there has been a recent rain I’d recommend waiting to ride or hike this area for a day or two afterward, as the clay content in the soil can make it slippery if it’s very wet. With the Santa Ysabel Creek running next to you, at times you may hear it babbling along as you ride, one of my favorite sounds is water running beside me, it is very relaxing. You can’t reach the water and most often can’t see it either as it is very overgrown.
The Lower Santa Ysabel Truck Trail and the Upper Santa Ysabel Truck Trail are planned to be part of the “Coast to Crest Trail,” which will be a 55-mile trail that goes from the beach (Coast) to Vulcan Mountain in Julian (Crest) and is being planned and built by the San Dieguito River Park. There are currently 35 miles of the Coast to Crest Trail completed and open to the public but it is not a continuous 35 miles, there are pieces ‘missing’ here and there that are not yet available.
Using Google Earth you can see that the LSYTT trail is about 2.2 miles one way and is an out and back for equestrians who must turn around at Highway 78. Hikers may be able to continue into Clevenger Canyon, but I am not an avid hiker and have no information to share about what lies beyond what Cricket and I can get to and see. Google Maps and other programs show that the trail ends well before it actually does so don’t rely on those programs for your information on this trail. LSYTT will intersect with Orosco Ridge Truck Trail but there are no signs indicating the change and it does continue all the way to the highway.
Ramona is a great town for riding and hiking. With a Community Trails and Pathways Plan in place more trails will be connected over time and more will be available to get out and enjoy. The Trails and Pathways Plan will connect Ramona with more public lands, and our surrounding communities too, and I so look forward to being able to get out and ride in my town more easily. In the meantime we are all very lucky to have available to us some of the most amazing trails and view points in the county, so get out and enjoy them. I hope to see you on the trail soon!
Visit our new website www.karenandcricket.com. We are getting information and maps up as fast as we can. There are also lots of pictures so you can see the areas we write to you about.