Great hike! Steep, good for the early morning or evening, well maintained, beautiful, lots of solitude. I appreciate all the past comments because my hiking partner (who leads the way) canceled and I wanted to do it solo It took me about 2 1/2 hours, but I didn't stop much.
This hike was wonderful. Pictures can't fully capture the beauty of those golden Santa Ysabel hills. It took me about 3 hours with some short stops. I started late in the day at around four to avoid the heat. I wouldn't do this hike on a hot day between the hours of 10-4. There were a few hills that got my heart really racing, but for the most part the trail wasn't too strenuous. It was maintained pretty well. I only saw one piece of trash; a Gatorade bottle. There were three picnic tables located at different points throughout the trail.
What I loved most about this trail was the wildlife, peace, and solitude. As soon as I got about a mile in it felt like I was far from any civilization because I couldn't hear cars passing by on the freeway. There were no other hikers on the trail when I was there. I saw deer, wild turkey, lots of cows, a few hawks and squirrels.
When I came in at 7:40 the ranger was waiting for me so that he could lock the gate because the preserve closes at sun down.
Super fun day. Great trail... lots of beautiful oaks, and wow, buckwheat blooming everywhere. Stands of white sage - absolutely gorgeous! Never seen so much in one place. Other wildflowers: Yarrow, California fuchsia, penstemon, monkey flower. Dog friendly. Amazing views. Will do again when it's not so hot! :)
Ali T. on Santa Ysabel Preserve West Trail
This hike is absolutely beautiful in Spring! The hills were green, the creek had a little water flowing, birds were singing in the giant Engelmann Oaks, and the little calves were roaming the meadows with their momma cows. The trails were a great combination of strolling between steep ascent/descents. Be on the lookout for rattlesnakes! We saw a large one underneath the picnic table that overlooked the stream. We had just set down our things at one of the two tables when we saw him move under the second picnic table. We scrambled to grab our things and bolt and he was coiling up in strike position, rattling away - it was scary! Rattlesnake aside, it was hands down one of the best hikes in the San Diego area! I wouldn't attempt it on a hot day though, as the trail isn't shaded except in a few small sections. We saw at least three large oaks that had been struck by lighting at some point and displayed charred sides and split trunks, which was pretty amazing to see. The hike took us 3 hours start to finish with just a few brief stops for photos.
Dawn B. on Santa Ysabel Preserve West Trail
Love this hike.
We took our jeep from end to end. It was dirty in a lot of places - beer cans, food wrappers. We stopped and cleaned up two overlook spots. Amazing panoramic views. Trail had a lot of rain washed sections from the rains earlier this summer (August 2015) revealing deep ruts and exposed rock in the trail.
It gets hot quickly and is very dry this time of year. 89 degrees by 11 AM.
Lovely hike through the hills and canyons. Some of the uphills are pretty steep, more than you would expect! There was a flowing stream which was pretty exciting since San Diego has been struggling with dry weather the last few years. Saw some cattle and was able to enjoy a lovely day out.
This was a great hike! The first mile was a bit steep, but once you arrive to the first fork, the trail evens out. The trail was more like a one lane dirt road, which allowed me to keep clear of the poison oak (it was pretty easy to avoid, but just be aware). There are some great views of Santa Ysabel and Wynola as you get towards the top. There are also some really pretty oak groves. As indicated on the map, there are a few picnic stops along the trail, complete with an actually picnic bench. It was nice to sit on an actual table rather than a rock. I did the first loop which turned out to be 4.5 miles. To my surprise, I had cell coverage the whole way (AT&T).
Me and my dog really enjoy the hike. We saw Great heron, eagles and all kind of birds, deers, and buffalos! Very peaceful place with great views on the countryside with the iconic oaks.
I just wish that the trails were longer but the hills will keep your heart pumping for sure!