When I go hiking, I like to hike the trail less traveled. I take to the trail to get close to nature, to hear the wind blow, the birds’ chirp, not to bump elbows with strangers on an overcrowded path. It’s rather difficult to find even a hint of solitude in a county with a population of over 2.9 million people. Outdoor recreational areas can become quiet congested, especially on the weekends. I have a few places I like to hike that afford me the peace and quiet I desire, but Sycamore Canyon Open Space Preserve in San Diego is one of my favorites. Not only is hiking among huge oak trees, sycamores, wildflowers, and chaparral incredibly peaceful and relaxing, but the Preserve is only a few miles from home and doesn’t draw the crowds as do some of the other trails in the area.
Goodan Ranch abuts Sycamore Canyon Open Space Preserve and together they make up about 2100 acres with 10-miles of hiking, biking, and horse trails. In 2003, Goodan Ranch and Sycamore Canyon were devastated by the Cedar Fire when over 95% of the Preserve was burned. The area was closed for a short time, but life in the Preserve has come back stronger and more beautiful than ever. On a recent hike, I took a lunch break near the charred remains of Stone House, which was built in the 1930s, but burned during the Cedar Fire. I was able to sit undisturbed and watch a Red Shouldered Hawk, a woodpecker, and numerous other birds fly between the trees. On the hike back to my car, I was accompanied by only a cool breeze and a Turkey Vulture circling overhead. These are the moments I cherish during my hikes and why I always return to Sycamore Canyon Open Space Preserve.