Guajome County Park features a lake, a large pond, a campground, and several miles of hiking trails all within minutes of downtown Oceanside. In relatively nature-starved North County, Guajome stands out as an accessible and serene option for a quick and easy nature fix.
Distance: 3.3 Miles
Elevation Gained: 250′
Critters: Egrets, ducks, geese
Note: Some entrances to the park require a $3 fee. If you go to the trailhead I indicated above, you can park on the street and avoid the fee if you don’t feel like giving the county your money.
It figures that it would take me over a year and a half to finally explore one of the closest hiking options to my apartment in Oceanside. I would like to tell you that I was saving myself a few nuggets for a time when I felt like I had explored everything. It’s probably more accurate to say that I turned my nose up at Guajome because it is surrounded by suburb and heavily affected by development, invasive species, and noise pollution.
This attitude can be pretty lousy sometimes. Development in one of the most desirable areas in California was inevitable from the get go, and as I turned my nose up at parks like Guajome, I missed the chance to enjoy what remains, which is still considerable and enjoyable. The park preserves wetlands, ponds, lakes, and meadows that are all lovely and all worth enjoying. Even more, this park is 15 minutes away instead of the usual hour and a half of driving to get to Palomar. Sometimes, a stroll in the park is all you need, and this is a great place to do it.
The gps track I included above is a great suggestion for how to walk this park as it includes just about everything. However, the network of trails means that any number of different routes – some shorter and some longer – are possible. The trails are well-marked, and there are numerous maps to indicate where you are. It’s hard to get lost here, and even if you do, you won’t stay lost for long.
I’m grateful for these islands of nature set amongst the North County suburbs. While I wish there were more of them, I’m glad to enjoy what remains. Over the next few months, I’ll be seeking out more and more of these as I attempt to take as many new hikes as possible. I have no doubt that I’ll discover all kinds of gems in the suburban rough.