Santa Ysabel Preserve West Trail

MODERATE 75 reviews

Santa Ysabel Preserve West Trail is a 5.6 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Santa Ysabel, California that features beautiful wild flowers. The trail is rated as moderate and primarily used for hiking, walking, trail running, and horses. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

5.6 miles
1174 feet

dogs on leash


horseback riding

trail running



wild flowers


The Santa Ysabel Preserve-West is located between Santa Yasbel and Ramona about 40 miles northeast of San Diego. Portions of the trail are steep. Numerous oak trees populate the hills with several picnic tables on the trail. If the entire preserve is open hikes can be extended to 8.5 miles The 5,312 acre Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve, located in the extremely scenic mountains between Santa Yasbel and Julian about 40 miles northeast of San Diego. While fire roads exclusively make up the designated trail system here, you will most likely not mind at all as the beauty of the place makes up for the lack of singletrack options. The rolling open grasslands and oak groves remind me a great deal of Northern California. You can get in just under 20 miles of bike or horseback riding if you do all of the loops and out and back sections.

2 days ago

Gorgeous hike! Rolling hills & valleys make it so peaceful. A great challenge of ups & downs.

21 days ago

Beautiful scenery, a lot of inclines in both directions.

1 month ago

Tried this hike out earlier today with my husband and 18 year old daughter and it was a 10/10. Pleasantly strenuous, lots of variation in elevation, soul-calming quiet, gorgeous scenery...and cows.

2 months ago

Beautiful trail and very peaceful. You will work your thighs and gluts, but it is worth it

2 months ago

Gorgeous trail - lots of cows and peaceful during a weekday day.

2 months ago

Dec 22nd. It was cold, very windy around 3:45pm, lots of cows, lots of poop... nonetheless a beautiful experience. If you find yourself walking towards a metal corral with a much larger than average amount of cow poop around you, stay towards the right of the coral. The trail is a touch washed out around here.

3 months ago

Great hike -steep at times and beautiful always

3 months ago

Love this trail. It will catch you off guard with its steep hills and roaming cattle. But the hike is gorgeous all the way

actually hiked from Santa Isabel Preserve East. Nice trail up to the plateau where the trail comes down from Farmer Rd. near Julian. logged 8.1 miles with 1800 feet elevation gain.

9 months ago

Don't go on a hot day, the first time I went was 95. The second time I went was 52. The hike back was grueling but well worth it.

9 months ago

This is a gorgeous trail! High grassy hills dotted with huge shady oaks. A lovely stream to cool your feet with nice shady areas to take a break.
No switchbacks here! Just straight ups and downs with a few steep climbs like a big roller coaster.
We didn't spot any buffalo just a lot of cows.
We had lunch after our hike right down the hill in Santa Isabell which made for a very nice day.

10 months ago

Pretty tough hike, all uphill for 3 miles. Beautiful surroundings lots of trees, Meadows and creeks. Hiked with Verna and the Sierra Club.

11 months ago

Beautify day. Good temperature. Hung out by the pond for a little bit before completing the loop. No cows this time around. A few wild turkey later on.

11 months ago

Make sure you are ready for a cardio filled adventure. The scenic view surrounding the trail are breathtaking. Very active wildlife, including hawks, squirrels, lizards, deer, and crows. The cattle were comfortably grazing around the creek and in the trail path. I even stumbled upon a Gopher Snake just sunning itself in the trail path as well. There are several picnic benches to stop off at along the way if you need a rest. I absolutely loved this trail.

11 months ago

I'm ready to get down on one knee and propose to this hike....I loved it!!!
Saw plenty of wildlife, including: squirrels, frogs, ladybugs, golden eagles and we heard birds with a song very similar to R2-D2.
There are a couple of very, very steep spots on the way back, especially the hills closest to the creek. Some wonderful soul propped up a board to allow creek-crossing without having to remove your shoes. Because of the extra cardio, we had the confidence to order that slice of pie at the nearby cafe :-).

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Hiked this trail for the first time today and thoroughly enjoyed it. The scenery and views are beautiful. Enjoyed the oak trees too. A board had been placed across the creek so that it's passable. The trail provides a good workout as it is quite steep at a few points as it meanders through rolling hills. Probably not a hike I would do in Summer except early in the morning as much of the trail is not shaded but will definitely be back again.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Nice hike. Beautiful scenery, some steep sections of trail. Trail is more of a fire-road, wide and open. Was in a little rough condition from all the rain, but not bad. Creek is flowing heavily and bridge is washed out. Scenery was great, we were even able to see the ocean in one spot.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Defiantly some steep rolling hills. Little creek was flowing after all our rain, which was nice to see. Ran into some guys filling in some holes getting ready for the rains to come. Great to see our trails being taken care of. Thanks to all those who do take care of the trails.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

This trail is a lot like life. Lots of ups and downs.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Beautiful hike, some pretty steep hills at times. Definitely a hike for cooler weather.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

FYI The above description that mentions 20 miles of biking refers to Santa Ysabel OSP East. I think bikes aren't allowed on the west side. This is a great hike during the cooler months. We enjoy it in a light rain when it's less busy.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

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.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

This is one of my favorite hikes in San Diego Co. Get some great views in, beautiful oaks and a few hills but not too strenuous.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Great hike! It was perfect in the morning, before it got too hot. Everything was green and beautiful.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

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.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Love this hike.

Monday, January 18, 2016

It was great! Tranquil hike.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

This was a nice hike with beautiful views and a good amount of wind. We saw only 2 other couples the entire time we were hiking. The hike was about 5.5 miles with lots of ups and downs the entire time.

Monday, November 23, 2015

it was a nice hike and not a lot of people. the hills were steep on the way back. lots of rolling hills and oak trees. we did lower creek to upper creek then took ridge all the way in a big circle. it was about 5.5 miles.

Friday, April 17, 2015

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.

Load More