Wilderness Garden Preserve

"Peacful and tranquil best describe the 700-acre Wilderness Garden Preserve in Pala," writes Sheri McGregor in 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles. "For thousands of years, this area was used only by Native Americans. The Upper Meadow Trail seems untouched by modern civilization. And when walking along the narrow path, one can almost imagine going back to that very time."

Located at the northern-most edge of San Diego County, this small park preserves several hundred acres of live-oak woodland habitat intermixed with eucalyptus, camellias, roses, holly, bottlebrush, pyracantha, and oleander. 

The preserve is also a favorite for local wildflower enthusiants, offering seasonal blooms of baby blue-eyes (Nemophilia menziesii), black sage (Salvia mellifera), blue dicks (Dichelostemma pulchellum), bush lupine (Lupinus longiflorus), California buttercup (Ranunculus californicus), California everlasting (Gnaphalium californicum), golden poppies and more.

There are several natural trails at Wilderness Gardens, with guided nature walks regularly scheduled.

"What's great about Wilderness Gardens Preserve is that there are several individual trails for hikers wanting to make a number of short visits," McGregor point out.  "The pond, quiet forest, meadows, and hillside scenery make this preserve a relaxing retreat that doesn't require a long drive. Even on weekends, you may be the only hiker on these seldom-used trails.

To visit the Wilderness Gardens take Interstate 15 to Highway 76, exit east and drive 10 miles to the park. Open 8am-4pm Thursday - Monday.  Call 760-742-1631 for information.

Blue Lupine

60 Hikes Within 60 Miles
San Diego
by Sheri McGregor 
Menasha Ridge Press, 2004

Like others in the 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles series, this guide is designed to assist hikers new to an area assess the available trails and choose a route best suited to their abilities, interests and time constraints.

The 60 hikes selected for the San Diego area range from a coast walk at La Jolla to the west, the Santa Margarita River Trail, the California Riding and Hiking Trail at Anza Borrego State Park to the east, and the Lake Morena Trail near the Mexico border to the south.

Each trail profile includes a description of the terrain and significant features, directions on how to find the trailhead, maps of the trail, hiking tips and suggestions, and sometimes a black-and-white photo. A "Hiking Recommendations" section at the front of the book breaks down the available trails by their lengthy, degree of difficult, traffic, views, wildlife, etc.

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