Hike Dos Picos County Park in Ramona, northern San Diego County
Ramona has two of the most popular peak trails in all of San Diego County—Mount Woodson’s Potato Chip Rock and the Iron Mountain summit—but for those seeking a gentler, more hidden hike, the 1.4-mile loop around Dos Picos County Park is a small yet mighty gem.
Start at the 78-acre Dos Picos County Park (parking is $3). The park is a very popular local camping destination, with manicured grounds for pitching a tent and charming cabins to rent. Start at picnic area #2 and cross the stream bed to get to the nature trail loop and head right (west). You’ll do some climbing on a paved road before reconnecting with the narrow trail. Look for a sign that says Ernie Pantoja Memorial Trail across from a large outcropping of boulders.
The path climbs, and you get views of the surrounding hills and ranchland. Look for two prominent peaks that give the park its name (dos picos is “two peaks” in Spanish). Keep following signs for the nature trail, and after descending through oak woodland, be sure to veer off to check out the pond, which often has plenty of resident waterfowl, from ducks and geese to coots and snowy egrets.
Back on the nature loop, follow a well-crafted stone-lined path under oaks to a footbridge, a gorgeous surprise along the trail. Swing around the south of the pond and past a gazebo to retrace your steps to the starting point.
To get to Dos Picos County Park, take the I-15 to the Poway Rd. exit and head east. After 8.9 miles, turn left onto the CA-67 and after 5.6 miles, turn right onto Mussey Grade Rd. for 1.1 miles followed by a slight right onto Dos Picos Park Rd. (the park will be on your left, look for signage). Dog-friendly!
Story and photos by Matt Pawlik, @mattitudehikes
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