Trillium Lake Loop Trail, a place for quick reflection

Trillium Lake Loop Trail, a place for quick reflection

Location: Near Government Camp, ~40 miles southeast of Portland southeast via Highway 26

Distance: ~ 2 miles

Difficulty: Easy

History

This lovely little lake is a man-made gem formed by a dam at the headwaters of Mud Creek, tributary to the Salmon River in 1960. Local lore has it that the lake was created for President Roosevelt because he was so fond of lakes and would be able to see it when he visited Timberline Lodge. Nice story, but President Roosevelt dedicated the Timberline Lodge in 1937 and died in 1945. Anyway it’s a great spot for a reflection photo and  Timberline Lodge is a my top pick for a great spot a getaway.

The Trillium Lake Trail

The loop circles the lake via a series of pine needle paths that meander through a plentiful variety of trees with boardwalks that cross boggy marshland and a meadow via the boardwalks. Yes, you get all that and more  in under 2 easy miles.

As you can tell from my feature photo, this is a great spot to get that quintessential Mt. Hood postcard reflection shot.

Tip: In the summer, you’ll want to go early to avoid the crowds, or you may find yourself among SUP paddlers, canoers, boaters, inner tubers, kayakers, and people swimming and fishing – your reflection and solitude could be marred by the minions – but the beauty should provide some solace.

Looking for an idyllic hike that will take you away from the maddening crowds? Try Paradise Loop at Mount Hood.

Notes:

$ From May 15th – October 1st there’s a $5 day-use fee (Northwest Forest Passes don’t count. )

Winter fun: Apparently the roads around the lake are groomed for cross-country skiers.

There’s family-friendly camping adjacent to the lake too. (Hence the crowds.)

A little slice of something nice: Annie’s Canyon, San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve

If you live in the San Diego area or have visited, you’ve no doubt driven by picturesque San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve countless times via the coast road or the freeway. Perhaps you’ve ventured on trails as well. I have, dozens of times for a run or stroll and I thought I knew all the trails there. (Pretty, but mostly flat and easy fare.) I hadn’t heard about Annie’s Canyon until someone asked me about it. Of course I had to investigate…

But first a couple words about these coastal wetlands. The reserve spans 1000 acres with a total of 7 miles of trails that connect the varied habitats from salt marsh to freshwater marsh areas to coastal sage and chaparral. Wedged between the freeway and the coast highway and surrounded on all sides by Solana Beach, Cardiff and Rancho Santa Fe, the lagoon remains home to more than 1,000 species of plants and animals – many endangered. Despite all the encroachment, it’s still a nice spot to savor nature and take in lagoon and ocean views.

Now for the unexpected delight of Annie’s Canyon. After a short, easy, less than mile hike to the canyon (look for signs), you’ll find yourself transported to a miniature canyon-land experience. Sure doesn’t feel like Southern California anymore, more like the slot canyons of Utah or Arizona. While it’s narrow, footing is fairly easy and there’s a steel ladder at the very top. Nothing treacherous here – just fun. It’s a super quickie (5 minutes), but super cool. What a great place to take young kids for a mini adventure with a little supervision and assistance. I know this kid at heart had some fun.

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The view from the top. And no, it’s not a nudist colony, my hottie BF is wearing pants. ; )

 

Notes

Dog friendly in the lagoon – not so much for the canyon unless, they are trick pups trained to go up narrow steel ladders

No bikes

There’s a bunch of construction underway as part of the highway and rail improvements program in the North Coast Corridor. Click here for trail closure updates before you go.

Apparently this spot was previously vandalized and closed and has only recently reopened, which explains why I didn’t know about it. Please enjoy, respect and protect the nature around you.

Location

There are a number of entrances to the lagoon. Here’s ine

Solana Hills trail head address is 450 Solana Hills Drive, Solana Beach. From I-5, take the Lomas Santa Fe Drive exit (exit 37) West. At 0.2 mile  turn right onto Solana Hills Drive for 0.3 mile. Park along the dead end street. There’s also a great nature center on the Cardiff-by-the-Sea side, which is quite nice and you can rent it for private events.

McGinty Mountain Trail: a sweet little gem in Jamul, CA

Location & directions

Trailhead: 13852-, 13998 Jamul Drive, Jamul, CA 91935

~25 miles from downtown San Diego.Take 94 East, exit at Campo Road. Follow Campo Road for ~ 4.5 miles, turn left onto Lyons Valley Road  and then left on Jamul Drive and you’ll see the dirt turnout / parking lot at 0.4 mile.Trail starts at the kiosk.

Main trail

~5 mile out & back

1,400 feet gain & loss

Moderate to strenuous depending on your fitness level

Dog and mountain bike friendly


My take

Drove down from North County for this one and so happy I did. Had low expectations as I’d never heard of this trail, but was pleasantly surprised. What a sweet little gem. This area is part of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge. Not as well known as many of the popular SD area hikes nearby Mount Woodson, Iron Mountain, and Cowles Mountain, but definitely a contender for it’s beauty and views.

It’s a great hike with mostly friendly terrain, except for the steepest area not far from the top, which was a bit of a rock field. (If you have tender feet, you might be happier in hiking shoes versus running shoes.) Don’t worry, the steepest area is fairly short so you won’t suffer long.) Mountain bikes are allowed, but I didn’t see any and there were only a few hikers sharing the trail. It’s a good spot for a trail run too. It’s a relatively quick hike and a lovely way to spend a morning or afternoon.

Highlights

Late season wildflowers and wonderful views of San Miguel Mountain and Tecate peak to the East, Mount Helix , Cowles Mountain, El Cajon Mountain, and even Cuyamaca in the distance – apparently on some days you can see all the way to Coronado, Point Loma and the expanse of Pacific. And hiking uphill is always more rewarding —better views and better workout!

 

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Rock scramble at the top – optional.

 

 

Caution

There are no trail signs so stay on the most obvious (widest & well traveled)  route. (You can take a couple viewpoint detours, but return to the main trail.) Be on guard for rattle snakes and ticks and bring water. The trail is exposed the entire way so you’ll want to avoid hiking in the heat of the day.

For more info, visit:

US Fish & Wildlife Service: McGinty Mountain trailhead

View route or download GPX from CalTopo

 

Take or leave it, just leave no trace: Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve

Location

Between Rancho Peñasquitos and Sorrento Hills to the north and Mira Mesa to the south, near the 5 & 805. The south side entrance is off of Sorrento Valley Boulevard, about a 1 mile east of Vista Sorrento Parkway.

History

Evidence of Native American prehistoric culture within the Preserve dates back as far as 7,000 years ago and apparently remains can still be found.

Apparently the ruins of the El Cuervo Adobe (1857) are at the West end of the Preserve, but somehow I’ve missed it on my half dozen trips here – must not be well marked. Next time, I’ll make a point to find it and update this post.

Flora & Fauna

Surprisingly biodiverse given its urban location, it’s reported that Los Peñasquitos Canyon and its tributary, Lopez Canyon are home to over 500 different plants, 175 bird types of birds, and a large variety of reptiles, amphibians and mammals (raccoons, mule deer, bobcat and coyotes). Many of these are rare or endangered and live a protected life in the Preserves 14 habitat types. From the steep slopes, flat mesa tops and grassy hillsides to the refreshing, shady riparian streams, apparently wildlife flourishes. In my visits here, I have seen little evidence of all the wildlife. No doubt, one would see more on foot at the prime wildlife watching hours of dawn or dusk…

Main Trail – Mild to Moderate

~7 mile loop

Some rutted and rugged terrain with a few climbs, but mostly flat and nontechnical. They’ve put down tons of rough rock on a mile stretch or so of the trail, which is a real pain in the butt (literally)  to traverse on mt. bike. Saw some guy with his young kids on bikes. They made it to the waterfall, but going through that rough rock section was an arduous journey that no doubt made for a very long day. You can avoid that section by juts taking the parallel trail out and back. It’s that is just a short bridge crossing away from the starting trail (both directions).

Highlights

The waterfall that springs out of volcanic rock and the 5 bridges that cross the stream and connect either side of the loop trail that runs the length of the park.

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My Take  

What can I say? When it comes to being immersed in beautiful places, I’m more spoiled than most. That being said, I wouldn’t go too far out of my way for this one. It’s good if you’re in the area and just want to get in a quick trail run, mt. bike ride or leisurely family stroll.  Also, it can be really crowded here with other bikers, hikers, families with small kids and dogs spread across the width of the trail. It always amazes / annoys me when people lack the common sense and courtesy to allow 2-way traffic.

 

 Warnings

Be on guard for poison oak and rattle snakes. The sign warns of mountain lions too, but highly unlikely in such a small area. Also, it can be super hot here in the summer – avoid the heat of the day.

Note

Trails may be closed intermittently due to flooding, call the county park ranger’s office for status after rains.  (858) 484-7504.

 

Have you been here? What’s your take? Like it, leave it, or love it?

Feline Distractions Post 3: A dieting Alfie wreaks havoc indoors & in the wild (Warning may be too graphic for sensitive viewers.)

Ok, so Alfie (a.k.a. the Alfinator) was getting a bit large even for his “tall, big-boned frame” and I had to put him on a little diet. He was approaching 19 lbs and it’s healthier for him to be in the 16 lb range.

The good news is Alfie is looking much better and has an extra spring in his step and his jump. The bad news, he’s turned into a grumpy scavenger and is wreaking havoc indoors and in the wild.

 

 

Of course, he disdainfully denies his involvement:

 

 

Alfie’s redefining mean & lean and channeling his predatory ancestors.

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Unfortunately the poor squirrel was DOA. : (

And then there was the giant locust I caught him with. When I approached, he started ingesting it head first, defying my command to drop it as he crunched away on in fiendish delight.

Not to be outdone, Lucky has been terrorizing the local lizard population.

eye to eye
Backyard Turf Wars – These two don’t see eye to eye.

Fortunately, I was able to rescue this one… I don’t like violence or senseless killing of any kind, but nature is cruel and cats are known to be among the cruelest. I do keep my eyes on my little rascals and intervene whenever possible.

My “Best of Thailand” Recap

What an amazing whirlwind month it was! So many incredible sights, sounds, tastes and experiences, definitely one of my top trips. Highly recommend Thailand as a destination. If you’re thinking about it, do it! My blog covers all the places I went and most of my activities – just use the search tool to get the scoop on the areas that interest you or do a browse and select Thailand for an overview of all the posts. There’s plenty more to see and explore there, but this was all I could pack into my trip. Let me know what spot is your favorite so I can check it out next time. If you have any questions, just send me a note.

Where I went

Bangkok

Chiang Mai

Mae Wang

Chiang Dao

Thaton

Chang Rai

Sukhothai

Ayutthaya

Koh Samui

Koh Phangan

Railay, Krabi

Phuket

What I did

These are my top picks from my month-long adventures

Best active tours: ActiveThailand

Best beach with restaurants, live music & mellow nightlife: Chaloklum Bay, Koh Samui

Best beach resort:  White House, Koh Samui

Best experience: Trekking and mountain biking remote areas of northern Thailand and homestaying with the Karen Hill Tribe

Best food: Chiang Dao Restaurant near the cave  – Chicken Tumeric, Chiang Mai & Bangkok Street Food – pork on a stick

Best health & Fitness Resort: Thanyapura Health & Sports Resort See post.

Best nature preserve island: Naugyuan

Best ruins: Sukkhothai

Best scenery: Railay, Krabi

Best town: Thaton

Best view from the room: Cocohut Beach Resort & Spa, Koh Phangan

Best wildlife: Railay, Krabi

 

Here are some scenes from my last night in Thailand, near the Bangkok airport:

Tip: The Paragon Inn is a basic, but decent airport hotel. It’s minutes from the airport and walking distance from the mall and street market. Super convenient for getting those last minute gifts and for catching those early AM flights.

 

Can’t emphasize enough how easy and inexpensive it is to tour around Thailand and have an exceptional time.  I’ll share more about what makes it so easy in an upcoming blog post.