Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve Trail

Some places silently lie in wait–little known, undiscovered hidden groves of beauty. They seem to hold a pocket of tranquility amidst busy streets just rumbling beyond their borders. We wandered to just such a place, with paths strewn with leaves, with sunlight streaming through thick, winding branches above. A place of quiet, a place along a path we little thought to ever look. It was so quiet and peaceful while we walked among the towering oak trees, so removed from the noise, I almost don’t want to share it with anyone else.

How lovely the picture of the creek running alongside the worn path that so many others have tread. That water that sustains the trees, once little more than shrubs, that gives them life. And the light that casts such brilliant shapes upon the ground. That light that paints a picture of light and dark, light and dark, together. But still the light shining through, far above. Oh, how lovely.




“This is exactly the place I’ve been looking for forever…I’d always thought of it as a secret, imaginary place, and can barely believe that it actually exists. I close my eyes and take a breath, and like a gentle cloud the wonder of it all settles over me.”
Haruki Murakami







  • The trail is pretty flat, but it is about 6.4 miles round-trip, so bring plenty of water, snacks, and good shoes.
  • Be careful of poison oak!
  • This post is focused on the trail starting from the east end (starting from the intersection of Mercy Road and Black Mountain Road). The west side takes you to the same waterfall destination, but I’m told it’s less scenic.
  • There is a parking lot with a $3 fee [cash only]. If you want to save money and walk a little bit farther, you can park at the baseball fields off Canyonside Park Driveway. Since the parking lot isn’t open past a certain time in the evening, this might be a better option if you’re planning your walk near sunset.
  • The main trail is pretty enough, but if you’d like to be even more immersed in nature, opt for walking along the smaller side trail.
  • Carson’s Crossing is a nice, short side trip that takes you to a lovely spot with wooden bridges across the creek.