San Diego, California - Explore the wild frontiers of San Diego County on horseback. San Diego County Parks and Recreation Volunteer Coordinator and local equestrian Cheryl Wegner recommended six trails to try this season.
Each of the parks listed has special parking that accommodates horse trailers and a staging area. In addition, all of the trails mentioned are open to other uses such as hiking and biking. They are also dog-friendly.
Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve
12122 Canyonside Park Road, San Diego, CA 92129
This preserve has tree-covered single track trails and wider ranch road trails, which are a nice choice for horseback riding on hot days. The staging area has plenty of amenities including pull-through parking spots, a round pen to prepare your horse for a good ride, potable water, restrooms, and a volunteer to provide support. Arrive to the preserve early; it can get very busy on weekends.
Sweetwater Summit Regional Park
3218 Summit Meadow Road, Bonita, CA 91902
Take your horses camping! Sweetwater Summit Regional Park has campsites for tents, trailers and recreational vehicles, plus there are corrals for your horses. In addition to the miles of trails in the immediate area, the park has several pavilions, kitchen facilities especially suited for group campers, an amphitheater, splash park, community room, exercise course and fishing.
For camping reservations, call (858) 565-3600 or (877) 565-3600.
Ramona Grasslands Preserve
Highland Valley Road, just east of Archie Moore Road, in Ramona
Located between the coastal mesas and the mountains of the Peninsular Ranges in east San Diego County, the preserve consists of 3,521 acres with a 4-mile loop trail. It is an easygoing and fairly short trek with amazing views.
Plus this fall, Parks is hosting a series of docent-led tours into the northwest sections of the preserve, which are usually closed to the public. Each excursion will provide a unique look at local history, plant and wildlife. Tours are limited to 15 horses/riders, so make your reservation for this exclusive tour now.
Tijuana River Valley Regional Park
2721 Monument Road, San Diego, CA 92154
This regional park is a wildlife oasis. Tijuana River Valley Regional Park’s trail system connects the staging area to the Pacific Ocean. There’s a nice long stretch of beach to ride on and an inlet area with calmer water for horses a bit shy of the waves. It’s a great destination for hot days with miles and miles of trails.
Pullouts for trailers, corrals, and picnic tables are all available to help you stage your ride. The best parking for equestrians is due west from the Visitor Center at 2310 Hollister Street.
Santa Margarita Preserve
37385 De Luz Road, Fallbrook CA 92028
The preserve has a shady riparian trail with several water crossings. Keep your eyes open for animals that live in this river corridor, and the raptors that are commonly sighted overhead or perched in trees. To the north, County-maintained trails connect with equestrian and hiking trails on property owned by the Fallbrook Public Utility District. To the west the preserve is buffered by Camp Pendleton.
Santa Ysabel Preserves
500 Farmer Road, Julian, CA 92036
The 3,800-acre preserves are surrounded by oak woodlands, native grasslands, and fields of wildflowers—a beautiful and natural setting for riding adventures. Be sure to carry plenty of water, as Santa Ysabel can get hot and water is not available on the trails. See the trail map before saddling up.
To find a complete list of County Parks with equestrian trails, visit sdparks.org. Click on find a park map and select “equestrian trails” as your park amenity.