Heller’s Bend Preserve
- Location: Fallbrook. From Highway 76, turn north on South Mission Road (12.7 miles east of I-5; 4.6 miles west of I-15). Go 1.4 miles and turn left on Heller’s Bend. (This intersection is easy to miss; if you reach Via Monserate or Paseo del Lago, you’ve come too far.) Go 0.4 miles to the white sign indicating Heller’s Bend Preserve. Park on the narrow shoulder on the left side of the road by the sign, making sure you are not blocking traffic.
- Agency: Fallbrook Land Conservancy
- Distance: 1 mile
- Elevation gain: 250 feet
- Suggested time: 45 minutes
- Difficulty Rating: G
- Best season: All year, sunrise to sunset
- USGS topo map: “Bonsall”
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield San Diego County
- More information: Article about the hike here; video of the hike here
- Rating: 5
This short but enjoyable hike explores one of several properties overseen by the Fallbrook Land Conservancy. Though the ascent has a few steep stretches, it should be easy for almost anyone to accomplish. It makes a perfect before- or after- work excursion; it is dog friendly as well.
From the parking area, step inside the gate and follow the trail down into a plesant woodland of oaks and sycamores, to a seasonal stream. Cross it on a concrete ford, and begin the ascent on a paved road. Watch out for clusters of poison oak on the side.
The trail makes a hairpin turn and comes out into an open area. Bear right at a junction (0.2 miles) and continue climbing uphill, passing a bench where you can sit and take a breather. You get some wide-ranging views as you ascend.
Finally the trail levels out at the top of a ridge (0.5 miles), where more benches allow you to sit and look out at the Palmoar and San Jacinto ranges, and the valley below.
This flat area makes a good turnaround point. Beyond, the trail becomes dirt again and continues up the hill (watch out for more poison oak), taking in some more panoramic views before reaching private property.
Text and photography copyright 2013 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.