7 HIDDEN GEMS IN ALPINE
**THIS IS AN ONGOING PAGE OF UNIQUE HIKES AND PLACES TO EXPLORE IN ALPINE**
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Alpine is one of San Diego's diverse towns which leads you to the back-country. Located on the foothills of Cuyamaca, this area is both rugged and diverse and offers a wide variety of scenery to enjoy. The elevation is between 1500' and 4100' so you definitely get a choose-your-adventure out here!
The town is largely surrounded by the Cleveland National Forest and borders two reservations of the Kumeyaay Nation, Viejas and Sycuan, and the rural unincorporated areas around the city of El Cajon. Apparently Alpine received its name in the 1800's after a resident said the area reminded her of the Swiss Alps in her home region of Switzerland.
During our visits out here we have come across some lovely hidden gems that we would like to share with you! Here is our list of Hidden Gems in Alpine:
Wright's Field is a 230 acre nature preserve located in Alpine. There are many different trails you can take among this California native grassland. See if you can spot the rare chocolate lily or mission bell during your hike!
Gathered: A Native Made Marketplace
Gathered: A Native Marketplace is a Native-owned boutique located within the Viejas Outlet Center. They carry items in their shop from over 25 tribal nations.
Here you can purchase pieces such as authentic Native-made jewelry, comforters & blankets, hand-crafted art, beadwork and other crafts, books and so much more!
Children's Nature Retreat
The Children’s Nature Retreat is an amazing animal sanctuary located out in Alpine. This ranch-style retreat has over 20 acres of land and is home to over 190 animals, both domesticated livestock and exotic animals from all over the world.
Each animal comes with its own story and all are either rescues or born on the property. The retreat is specifically designed to help children develop a sense of wonder for nature and its inhabitants through unstructured exploration and learning.
Lions, Tigers and Bears
Lions, Tigers and Bears is definitely one of the most unique animal rescues we have in San Diego. Located off a dusty road in Alpine, you would never even realize all these exotic creatures were hidden back there!
Owner Bobbi Brink has been working with and advocating for large, exotic animals since the early 90's. After personally witnessing the abuse these magnificent creatures were enduring, she took it upon herself to be their voice and work towards giving them a better life, one creature at a time.
You would not expect to find such a magical home next to a busy highway. With a thick wall of trees to protect it, it is easy for the observer to get lost in its majesty and forget the hustle of the surrounding world.
Known as the 'Shire', this home was built in 1972 & designed by the famous & whimsical artist James Hubbell. Hubbell began his artistic career as a sculptor and slowly moved into architecture.
Alpine Historical Society
The Alpine Historical Society is dedicated to preserving the history of their community. The grounds consist of a Heritage Park for Alpine which includes three historic buildings: the Dr. Sophronia Nichols House, built in 1896; Dr. Nichols' Carriage House and the Adam and Caroline Beaty House, built in 1899 with a park-like setting surrounding the buildings.
Alpine Mud Huts
I was fortunate enough to visit the mud huts back in 2015 before they were destroyed. At the time, the owner Joseph “Isseppi” Diliberti, was battling the county over fire prevention citations which he couldn’t afford. Places like this are so far and few in between–especially in San Diego. The mud huts were not just an architectural work of art, they were his family’s home for almost 30 years.
Visiting his home you got an immediate sense of love and warmth. There was a ton of attention to detail attached to stories that only the lucky few will ever hear. I wish I could have gotten a tour with the man himself. Dilberti said on building his home: “I remember cleaning the land and pushing boulders. Just getting them out of the way. And there was one boulder I couldn’t get out of the way and that’s the one that remains today. That’s where I put my fireplace. When the fireplace was finished I built the entire house around it.”