Daley Ranch – Engelmann Oak Loop

Distance: 5.1 Miles
Elevation Gained: 800′
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 2:05
Critters: Hip-hop hares!!!


– All the fun of Daley Ranch’s Engelmann Oak Loop
– Plus beautiful golden hour lighting
– My baby joined me!


– None


Cougar Pass Road – Engelmann Oak Loop – Bobcat Trail

Kelly and I somehow both miraculously had Memorial Day off. In the past, the chances of this happening were about the same as getting hit by a shark while being eaten by a bolt of lightning on the third Tuesday of the fifth month of every third leap year. Well, forget that we weren’t dating last Memorial Day, and just know that I almost always work on Memorial Day. After all, I work in a grocery store, and Memorial Day is about. . . BBQ?

We decided to go for something mellow and low-key that would allow me to enjoy some late afternoon lighting for picture taking. Engelmann Oak loop would be a perfect low-exertion, high-reward hike for us both to enjoy.

We got there on a sunny day that was surprisingly clear, considering all of the crap that usually hangs out in the atmosphere during the late spring months. We could clearly see most of the San Diego peaks, as well as Santiago to the north at one point. That lazy kind of afternoon light that catches dust motes and insects and the fuzz on sage leaves filtered through trees and grasses. The sun massaged our necks instead of scorching them, and cool breezes created the right air-conditioning for a warm May afternoon.

Kelly and I took the loop at a nice, slow pace, setting off up the big hill in a counter-clockwise direction. From there, the trail emerges on the east bank of a hill, and you walk amidst sage and yerba santa with a great view of nearby Palomar Mountain. The loop bends westward in a very circular fashion, leading you to the best part of the loop: a park-like spread of weeping Engelmann Oaks that seemed to sleep peacefully in the soon-to-be setting sun.

From there, we took the shortcut down Bobcat Canyon, which was blanketed by cool shadows and the occasional beam of sunlight catching the tops of the live oaks. We moved slowly through this quiet garden of a trail, finally emerging at the access road that connects the loop.

I love this hike, and still think it will be one of the best in San Diego long after I’ve taken every other hike I can find. There’s something serene about walking through the oaks here. Also, the area seems to receive a touch more water than most other places, resulting in thousands upon millions of widlflowers even this late into spring.

And, as always, it is great fun hiking with Kelly. Not only was she a good sport about the hill I promised – and the first two hills on this route are doozies, she soaked in the ambiance, light, and scenery with enthusiasm, good humor, and a lot of laughter. I always have a great time hiking with her.

Finally, this was my birthday today, and, surprisingly, I failed to get a hike in. I was going to hike Santa Anita Canyon in L.A., since I was up there to see some friends and family. However, the combination of homework and traffic nixed that. I ended May at a somewhat lower mileage total than I had originally planned. but no matter since I’m still way ahead of the curve.

I also have a ton of stuff planned in June, including:

– Camping and backpacking in Sequoia National Park
– Backpacking in San Gorgonio wilderness
– San Bernadino Peak, and the completion of the six-pack of peaks
– Hopefully, about 130 miles hiked.

Woo hoo!

May: 113.9 Miles
Year-to-Date: 621.6 Miles

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