My friend Katie and I left Temecula at about 8:30 this morning to try out the trails at the Los Peñasquitos (little cliffs) Canyon Preserve. We jumped on the 15 freeway and headed south, exiting at Mercy Road, taking that straight into the preserve. The light at the end of Mercy Road is actually the entrance to the preserve. Our drive was only about an hour long with very little traffic so we were off to a great start.
There is a $3 parking fee for the preserve, which I do not believe they have posted on their website. Currently they only except exact change, so make sure you bring some singles or loose change to pay your entrance fee. They are currently working on the ability to make change or use other forms of payment.
A quick stop at the porta-potty and we were off. We noticed there were quite a bit of people on the wide dirt road heading in. We decided to turn right at the first opportunity we had; we veered right and took the Cactus Trail. They have little informational signs posted throughout the preserve so that you can learn about the vegetation and wild life. I really appreciate the additional information these signs provided, I thought it was a nice touch.We made our way through a small path with cacti here and there. We even passed a couple out for a stroll; one walking two dogs and the other on a horse. There were also quite a bit of cyclists out at the preserve. The trails have very clearly marked bike and horse signs, so if you like horsing or biking around, you will have no trouble finding what trails to go on. All of the cyclists were very nice and a few even rang their bell to let us know they were there as they approached.There were several different trails which made me feel like I was in a choose your own adventure book. Do you remember those? To open the door, go to page 30.
Some of the trails lead us into the shade of the trees and along the pretty creek. Most of our journey was in the sun, so it was very relaxing to pop into the shade of the trees.A few of the trails were closed today due to the trail being washed out from all the rain we had. All of the closed trails were clearly marked with signs and we had no trouble finding plenty of trails that were open to get to the waterfall.At one point during our day, we went down a trail that was surrounded by the plants in the picture above. The entire path smelled like licorice! I snapped a bunch of pictures of all of the plant life so that I could go home and figure out why it smelled that way. As it turns out, our ferny green path was Fennel, which evidently smells like licorice. I had no idea Fennel smelled this way until today. You learn something new every day!
There were several people hanging out at the waterfall and even enjoying a dip in the water. We enjoyed the view from the top of the hill and then kept walking further until we found a nice shady secluded spot to have lunch. Sycamore Crossing trail was just the resting spot for us. We ate our lunch and rested our feet and then continued on the trail so that we reached the main dirt road that we missed when we took Cactus trail on the way in. This road has a lot of rocks, and I mean a lot. A bunch of rocks on tired feet is not the best combination, but we made our way back to the parking lot and with some effort completed our loop.Above right is the biggest mustard flower plant I have ever seen so I had to get a picture with it. I am 5′ 3″ so that will give you an idea of just how tall that sucker is. 🙂Above: rocks of doom, creepy funnel spiderweb, and a bubble bee. 🙂The only disappointing part about this trail was the fact that many of the dog owners seemed to bag their doggy business and then leave the bag on the ground. Yup, on the ground…in a bag. There was so many bags littered throughout the trail that I decided there had to be some sort of reasonable explanation for the lack of care people were showing to the park. I thought maybe there was some sort of program where dog owners were being instructed to do this…call it wishful thinking. I went home and put my Google skills to the test and am sad to say that I could not find anything that suggested that people were supposed to be doing this. Sad.
Other than naughty dog owners, this was a great experience and I love the preserve. I will definitely be going back and next time I will avoid the rocky road. I think my kids would have a great time here as well, so the next time I come back I will bring them.
According to my watch, our hike took 4 hours and 11 minutes and was 7.57 miles with 18,882 steps. Heck yeah! 🙂