Fred and I hiked Los Peñasquitos Canyon today in the afternoon. The canyon is embedded between the settlements of Rancho Penasquitos and Mira Mesa, and it’s a true gem of nature amidst the urban sprawl of San Diego’s inland north county. It is also one of my go-to places for walks with Toni, and the trails both on the northern and southern side of the creek are connected by multiple creek crossings. This allows both short walks and longer loop hikes.
I generally prefer the single-track side trails because mountain bikes are not allowed there (some bikers still use them, of course – why be respectful of the signage and other people when it’s about your own fun? sigh), and the canyon is quite popular among bikers.
We began our hike at the east entrance to the canyon, near Black Mountain Road. The canyon can be accessed from various other points as well. We crossed the creek at the Ranch House Crossing, then hiked west and crossed the creek again at the Penasquitos Creek crossing. We then hiked further west on the north trails, all the way down to the “waterfall” (the creek jumps down through some rocks, I would rather call it a series of cascades than a waterfall;-).
We crossed the creek and hiked back east on the south trails. The side-trails here are my favorite, there’s plenty of lush green in spring, little hidden meadows, gnarly oak trees, and either the murmuring creek nearby, or some standing water from recent rains.
The tracklog of our hike is available on GaiaGPS. I forgot to turn on the logging for the first 10-15 minutes so the total distance should be ~6 miles, not 5.5.
This is an easy hike and the area is enjoyable even on warm summer days when the on-shore breeze from the ocean creates a pleasant cooling wind in the canyon. There’s also plenty of shade available, especially on the single track side trails.