East of Escondido and San Pasqual Valley, two hikes are possible at Clevenger Canyon, where Highway 78 winds up towards Ramona. While the Clevenger Canyon North trail climbs out of the canyon towards the boundary of Rancho Guejito, on a south-facing and exposed slope, the Clevenger Canyon South trail is much nicer, as it faces north – and if you love chaparral, then this is a really nice hike, especially in Spring.
The hike starts right at Highway 78. The trailhead/parking area is right after a sharp right-turn, at the end of a turnout. It’s easy to miss. I’d consider this a relatively easy hike, with a distance of 4.5 miles out and back, and an elevation gain of about 1000 feet. But, it’s inland so it will get hot there. I wouldn’t recommend doing this hike any later than June, and even then only on cooler days, despite the fact that the slopes are mostly north-facing and not as exposed to the sun.
I started in the afternoon around 2pm and in February on a partially overcast day, it was really pleasant hiking. The only “downer” is the noise from Highway 78, which remains more or less audible during the entire hike (much less so as you get higher up of course). Along the trail and especially around its high point are some surprising and unusual views of this part of the county though, and the beautiful slopes of Clevenger Canyon itself of course – which is what many of my photos below are about, somehow… :-)
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