Barnett Ranch Preserve (Ramona)

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  • Location: Ramona. From the intersection of Highway 78 and Highway 67 in downtown Ramona (19 miles east of Escondido and 22 miles west of Julian) head south on 10th St., which becomes San Vicente Road. The preserve entrance will be on your right in 3 miles.
  • Agency: San Diego County Parks & Recreation
  • Distance: 2.5 miles (or more)
  • Elevation gain: 250 feet
  • Suggested time: 1.5 hours (or more)
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Best season: November – May (sunrise to sunset)
  • Dogs: Allowed on leash
  • Cell phone reception: Good
  • Water: None
  • Restrooms: Chemical toilets at trail head
  • Camping/backpacking: None
  • Recommended gear: sun hat
  • More information: Trip description here; Yelp page here
  • Rating: 6

In 1875, when Cleveland businessman Augustus Barnett moved to Ramona, the population of San Diego County was about 8,000. Now, with over 3 million residents, San Diego County is the fifth most populous in the country. However, at Barnett Ranch Preserve, other than some light traffic noise and a few overhead power lines, not much has changed since the late 19th century. The 728-acre preserve features several miles of hiking trails, including the enjoyable loop described here.

From the parking area, follow the paved road into the preserve and make an immediate left on an unsigned trail. The trail passes through an attractive grove of oaks before reaching a T-junction with the Valley View Trail. You can extend your hike by turning left and heading 0.4 mile to a pair of view points; however, this stretch of trail parallels San Vicente Road and thus suffers from traffic noise. To head deeper into the preserve, turn right and then make a quick left on another unsigned trail. You head southwest through an attractive, rolling meadow dotted with live oaks. The recognizably pointy shape of Mt. Woodson can be seen in the distance.

A little more than one mile from the start you reach a bench beneath a large oak; this is the approximate halfway point of the loop and a good resting spot. An interpretive display discusses the native Kumeyaay tribe and how they lived off the land. The trail continues from this point, bending around and heading north back toward the entrance. As you head through the meadow, now on the Rattlesnake Trail, you’ll see Cuyamaca Peak and El Capitan to the east. The Rattlesnake Trail ends at paved Deviney Lane. Turn right and follow Deviney Lane 0.4 mile back to the parking area.

Barnett Ranch, Ramona, CA
Oaks near the preserve entrance
Barnett Ranch, Ramona, CA
Oaks on the Valley View Trail
Barnett Ranch, Ramona, CA
Heading back on the Rattlesnake Trail
Barnett Ranch, Ramona, CA
View of Cuyamaca Peak from the Rattlesnake Trail

Text and photography copyright 2017 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.



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