Tuesday, August 2, 2016


In July I hiked closer to the Coast, by going to Del Mar Mesa which is East of Del Mar and South of State Route 56. The Mesa has a number of expensive gated communities, all of which have some great views. The Mesa is just North of Penasquitos Canyon.

My friend, Linda, learned about the hike from a friend, and she had ridden horseback in the area a number of years ago. We met at her house and carpooled on a Friday morning with an early start of 0730. We found the trailhead, parked, and started out with brimmed hats, long sleeves, and plenty of cold water.

The hike was about 4.5 miles. At first you walk on a dirt path which could be a bridle path and then you drop down into a canyon. We found a duck pond with no ducks, but a female coot and her offspring were swimming about.  We ended up going South and our turning around point was the waterfall in Penasquitos Canyon. In this area I photographed a posing dragonfly. There were no other hikers on the trails, and only about 10 mountain bikers.  The temperatures reached into the high 90's.We definitely worked up a sweat especially as we hiked back up to the mesa. 
South toward the Waterfall

Penasquitos Water Fall in late July
North toward Del Mar Mesa (the power poles in the distance are on the Mesa)

We had heard about some tunnels formed by trees, but did not find them on the this hike. We did enjoy the different locale, and Linda convinced me to go in search of a "cooling towel". After the hike we decided to research the trail and go back the next week and experience the tree "tunnels" as the forecast was for some cooling. 

We also got a kick out of the name of one of the gated communities - Hooterville. The original rancher had named his ranch Hooterville because he liked the T. V. program. The entry to the this development was a small petting farm.

Last week, we returned. I had gone to "Modern Hiker.com" and got more specific directions of which trails to go on when we reached a junction. The research paid off and we again had a nice hike with about three quarter of a mile through the tree tunnels, in shade. 

Hanging Lichen

Tree Tunnel

Biker in the Tunnel

The tunnels are formed by scrub oak trees, with a few Del Mar Manzanita along the way. It was quite lovely, and there was also a lot of lichen on the trees, some hanging down off of limbs, others on the trunks and limbs of the trees. We had been cautioned about the need to being heard as mountain bikers move quickly through the tunnels and can not see around the various twists and turns. Our experience was that they were friendly and moving at a reasonable speed. (I do not think I would do this on a weekend though.) I also took the initiative and let out some "woops" now and then.

Summer Holly, Comarostaphylis diversifolia 

Lichen covering Tree

Fall in July?

Del Mar Manzanita Forest

Tunnel View

The investment in a "cooling towel" was well worth it. The "towel" is made of a light weight material, and the idea is that you wet it and put it around your neck. As it evaporates, it helps to cool you down. If there is any breeze, it really works nicely. If it starts to get too dry, just wet it some more with a little water from your water bottle. As I had ice water, it really felt good to pour a little on the towel on the back of my neck.

This time the highlight of our hike was the sighting of a baby horned lizard. We also saw some of the little manzanita apples, and actually tasted them as we knew that they were edible. They were O.K. :-) We will return probably in the winter or early Spring.

Horned Lizard - about two inches in length

1 comment:

  1. I'm chuckling at the thought of your "Whoops" along the trail. Just not keen on multiple use with bikes. The tunnel is great and what a wonderful sighting of your favorite lizard. Cooling towel sounds like a great idea in that heat. As always, marvelous photos.