Dog-Friendly: Yes Kid-Friendly: Yes
Hours: 8am-Sunset daily
Hike: 5.2 miles Level of Difficulty: Moderately difficult
The Santa Ysabel Preserve West is a beautiful 1,500 acres preserve filled with of hiking trails and scenic views. It was once part of a 17,719-acre land grant given to Jose Joaquin Ortega and his son-in-law Edward Stokes by the Mexican governor. Their land was known as Rancho Santa Ysabel back then. Ortega served as the head steward and administrator of the San Diego Mission Basilica de Alcalá from 1835 to 1840, and as the head steward of Mission San Luis Rey de Francia during the years 1843-45.
This area has had a few significant events pass through it, including in 1846 when General Stephen Watts Kearny and his army camped at the Ortega/Stokes ranch while on their march to the Battle of San Pasqual.
This is Kumeyaay territory, home to both the Santa Ysabel/Mesa Grande bands. Much resistance was made to try to protect their ancestral land, but eventually the bands were put into reservations scattered throughout San Diego’s back-country which still exist today. The fight for land back continues today.
In the late 1800s, the Santa Ysabel Preserve was used as a dairy and cattle operation. Even today, you can see cows roaming the land. The dairy business proved quite successful and is still around today, 4 generations in. However, much of the land was sold to the Nature Conservancy, 1,512 to be exact, as high costs and low profits began after new regulations and environmental constraints were put in by the county.
There are many hiking trails intersecting with each other. We took the loop trail which does have some pretty tiring (in my opinion) inclines. Pace yourself and take in all the beauty around you!
You are a stone’s throw away from Dudley’s bakery and the Julian Pie Company. I highly recommend stopping by there afterward for some delicious, celebratory food!
You start off pretty quickly going up a hill. A good taste for what is ahead of you. We’re all here to get in shape though, right?
We really liked the cows: