Blue Sky Ecological Reserve
- Location: 16275 Espola Road, Poway. From I-15, take the Rancho Bernardo Rd. exit (24) and head east for a total of 3.4 miles. En route, Rancho Bernardo Rd. becomes Espola Rd. Just after the road makes a sharp right turn, look for the entrance to the preserve on the left.
- Agency: Blue Sky Ecological Reserve/California Department of Fish & Game
- Distance: 5 miles
- Elevation gain: 800 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 2.5 hours
- Best season: Year round
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield San Diego County
- Recommended gear: sun hat
- Dogs: Allowed on leash; exercise caution during the summer on the exposed trails
- Cell phone reception: Good
- Water: None
- Restrooms: Chemical toilets at trail head, about one mile from the trail head and at the reservoir
- Camping/backpacking: None
- More information: Trip descriptions here, here and here; Yelp page here
- Rating: 7
This perennial favorite among San Diego hikers offers a variety of possible routes of varying length and difficulty. The route described below visits Lake Ramona, one of the two bodies of water near the reserve (the other being Lake Poway). On warm days, those who don’t feel like making the climb to either of the lakes can enjoy a pleasant stroll beneath the oaks on the Green Valley Truck Trail. On the other hand, hikers who want more of a challenge can extend the trip to include Lake Poway or even head all the way to Mt. Woodson.
From the parking lot, follow the Green Valley Truck Trail as it descends into the oak-shaded canyon. In 0.2 mile, you reach a junction with the Creek Side Trail, a single-track that is an alternative for hikers without dogs. The trails soon rejoin and continue to a junction, one mile from the start, where another route branches off south toward Lake Poway. You pass by a picnic area (a good turnaround point for those who want a shorter hike, or if you are visiting on a hot day) and soon reach another junction.
Turn left and begin a steady ascent, climbing the north slope of the canyon. Mt. Woodson’s antenna-dotted summit dominates the landscape to the east. As you climb, views open up to the south (Lake Poway) and the west. Two miles from the beginning, the fire road becomes paved. A steep 0.4 mile ascent–the least enjoyable part of the trip–brings you to Lake Ramona.
To get closer to the water, look for a dirt trail descending steeply from the dam. Follow it to a spot just above the surface of the reservoir where you can sit and enjoy the peace and quiet before heading back down.
Photo gallery (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)
Text and copyright 2016 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.