Go For Guajome

Hike Guajome County Park in Oceanside San Diego County

Like a good HOGO (hike one, get one)? Head to Guajome County Park in Oceanside for a hidden lake twofer via a 4-mile loop trail that traverses most of the 394-acre green haven and adds a bonus history lesson, too. Park in the paved lot ($3) or on the street along Guajome Lake Road (free), then find the trailhead right at the park’s eastern entrance. The peaceful path immediately flanks the namesake lake, which comes from the Luiseño word for “frog pond,” and its many resident waterfowl, including coots, ducks, egrets, and a flock of particularly large and healthy geese.

Guajome Lake

There are also red-winged blackbirds nesting in the trees along the shore, who are especially talkative during crepuscular hours, and you can even spot American kestrels hovering as they search for prey. Complete a full lake loop now, or at the end of your trek, to gain more picturesque perspectives of the watering hole. When you reach a junction with the Nature Trail (right path goes around the lake), head left onto the Nature Trail and across the charming bridge. The narrow path has interpretive signs covering the local flora, from fennel to live oak to sage, and crosses a stream and under tower palms. The path opens up to multiple outlets—to the left is the 33-site campground (and one cabin for rent!).

Woman at the shoreline of the lake in Guajome County Park San Diego

Woman sitting at a bench overlooking Guajome Lake in Guajome County Park San Diego

Woman sitting at a picnic table overlooking the trees and setting at Guajome County Park in San Diego

Head straight up the hill on the Willow Trail, gaining over 100 feet and some incredible views of the park and surrounding suburbia (look for a bench at the top). The trail gently descends to another junction—head left onto the Upper Pond Trail. This is where you’ll find your second lake, one that barely any of the park’s patrons visit. It is a truly tranquil loop around the cattail-surrounded smaller lake. Head back via the Luiseño Trail, which reconnects with the junction at the campground, after passing a picnic area with park amenities on your left (this is the park’s alternate west entrance).

Willow Trail in Guajome County Park San Diego

Rancho Guajome Adobe in Guajome County Park

Woman walking outside the Rancho Guajome Adobe in Guajome County Park

BONUS HISTORY: Via a 5-minute drive, or a loop extension via a walk along the Santa Fe Trail (across from the west entrance of the park at Willowbrook Dr./Melrose Dr.), visit the Rancho Guajome Adobe, an incredibly well-preserved mid-19th century hacienda that sits in a pristine green park. This National Historic Landmark offers interpretive signs of the home’s and the region’s history, as well as a beautiful picnic setting. If you want even more California history, consider heading to the nearby and much more famous San Luis Rey Mission (founded in 1798).

To get to the east entrance to Guajome County Park and the trailhead, take the CA-76 to the Guajome Lake Rd. exit, heading south. The entrance and lot will be immediately on your right (street parking is just down the road). Dog-friendly!

Story and photos by Matt Pawlik.

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Up Umunhum

    Rising from the Santa Cruz Mountains, Mount Umunhum is one of the Bay Area’s highest points, reaching an impressive 3,486 feet. With the new 7.4-mile (round-trip) addition to the Bay Area Ridge Trail, locals can finally step up to its peak.

  2. Napa's Wild Side

    It’s wine country’s Amazon. Cutting 50 miles through the famous Napa Valley and emptying into San Pablo Bay, the gentle Napa River is an ecological—and recreational—delight. And Napa Valley Paddle helps you enjoy it.

  3. Strolling With Sam

    Most people come to Samuel P. Taylor State Park for the beautiful creekside campground and picnic areas. But the hiking here can be pleasantly peaceful on a short trail featuring old-growth redwood trees.

  4. Sponsored

    Four Ways to Fall for North Lake Tahoe

    As vivid autumn colors start to line the sky and crowds begin to dwindle, North Lake Tahoe’s breathtaking secret season takes over and is a favorite among locals. With turning leaves, crisp air, and 12 towns to explore, North Lake Tahoe is the place to disconnect.


Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Apple of Your Eye

    That fall feeling is definitely in the air and on display at the Oak Glen Preserve. Apple orchards and colorful leaves are a bonus, as are the apple cider donuts and slushies you can enjoy post-hike.

  2. Secluded Royale

    Panoramic coastal views and a killer leg workout combine on this 2.7-mile (round-trip) out-and-back hike to secluded Coast Royale Beach in Orange County

  3. Rock Star Hike

    The sandstone giants of Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park might be the coolest damn formations in SoCal. Explore the craggy slabs on a 2.5-mile hike.

  4. Clarity in Claremont

    The majority of Claremont Hills Wilderness Park is inaccessible, rugged terrain but there’s a 4.9-mile moderate loop that’s well-maintained and feels gloriously far away, despite being close to the city.