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March 14, 2016

Los Penasquitos Canyon Waterfall in San Diego

The Saturday hike up Maple Canyon is more of a short cut to eating than hiking.  but it was the St. Patrick’s Parade and Festival in Balboa Park, and a good excuse to eat!  So to burn off a few extra calories today was a hike in Penasquitos Canyon (“little cliffs”).

The trailhead on the west is at the south side of Sorrento Valley Road, with free parking.  The east entrance has a $3 parking fee! ouch!  To reach the free parking and access the trail head exit I-5 N at Sorrento Valley, a quick left, right, straight onto Sorrento Valley Road will lead to the parking about a quarter-mile past the last of the business buildings on the right side.
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The trailhead is at the east end of the parking area begins with a nice wetland created by Lopez Creek and then passes back under Sorrento Valley Road.  After decending the first hill watch for this wide side trail.  It leads west to the El Cuervo Adobe ruins (circa 1853) and staging corral about a quarter-mile west.
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Enjoy the shade at the trailhead as it quickly opens into meadows with little to no shade.
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The best views of the waterfalls will be from the North Trail, which means at some point the creek will have to be crossed. But not at the Wagon Wheel Crossing, the water here is waist deep!  With a couple boards provided as bridges …. HA!
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So Trek-on we do  and continue on the South Side Trail.  With more meadows and we note a lone biker on the North Side Trail – how did he get over there?  We decide to continue on the South Trail to the Waterfall as we are almost there.
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To the Penasquitos Creek Falls.  The creek has carved a path through the volcanic rock, some of the oldest rocks in San Diego County.  This is a popular urban open space with easy access from the east or west.

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After leaving my car key and staff at the top of the falls with Fran, I tried to rock scramble down for a better view.  It was not easy to get a good angle and a safe perch at the same time.
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Since I was not satisfied with the water access from the South Side Trail and Fran humors me as we backtrack the half-mile to the Sycamore Crossing.  Here some dogs (off-leash - gasp!) are enjoying a cool swim in the creek.
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After the crossing it is another half-mile back to the falls.  The North Side Trail is not much more than a single track trail popular with the mountain bikers.  But does offer better views of the falls.
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Now what’s a hike without a oh-oh moment.  After not crossing back at the Sycamore Crossing and knowing the Wagon Wheel Crossing is not possible, why not return to Sorrento Valley on the North Side Trail – there must be a way to cross there.  WRONG!
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What started out as a 6-mile hike on a popular wide path became 7.5 to include the waterfall view from the North Side Trail.  The idea of taking a short-cut through Sorrento Valley adds about 3 more miles.

But at least they are all scenic miles Smile
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