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Cuyamaca Rancho State Park-Los Caballos/Los Vaqueros

Near: San DiegoCA (Weather)
Number of
20 Total
100 Difficulty: Easy Trail
Trail Description Here is absolutely no place more enjoyable than Los Caballos Horse Camp for a summer campout with you and your favorite Cayuse. Oh yea, don't forget your best riding pal too, whoever that may be, even the kids will have a ball. If you have never had the opportunity to visit the camp, it is at the north end of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in the mountains to the east of San Diego, just north of Interstate 8 as it heads towards the East. Highway 79 will get you there from the north or the south. Take a look at a California map not too far from the Mexican border and right in the middle between Arizona and the Pacific Ocean, there we are nestled in one the most beautiful mountain valleys anywhere. A visitor from out of state once described the area as a place " where when God kissed this place he never let go". The longer I live here the truer his words ring. The horse camp was built near one of the largest Indian camps in the range, in fact legends tell of the surrounding meadowland as being the site of what might be called the Indian Olympics, as many tribes gathered in summer to compete with one another in foot races and other team games. The elevation is 5000 feet above sea level, which keeps the summer temperatures moderate, with cool evenings and clear, crispy mornings. Frost is not uncommon. The months of July and August bring thunder showers. As you enjoy the blaze of your campfire, your thoughts will be among many who have come before, living here were untamable Indians, the largest group of " renegades" who would not submit to the Mission system, if you look carefully you may see the remains of where they camped, ground into the bedrock of nearby boulders. They too eventually fell to the hand of their pursuers, many of their descendants have achieved retribution, they now take it back at the Viejas Indian Casino in Alpine where you too can have a visit and help support the local tribes. Riding and hiking trails abound in every direction from the campground, you can ride for minutes or for hours or days for that matter. Maps are available and are a must for the first time visitor, this is a very popular place and accommodations are limited and reservations are a must, a little secret is to not try for the weekends but overlap if you can. Reservations are through Reserve America at 1-800-444-727, be sure to call as early ahead of time as you can, and visit with the camp host about cancellations. Most of the camp sites have two corrals, a picnic table and a fire ring with parking for your horse trailer, be sure to bring every thing you need with you. They do have water spickets, but no containers or hoses. They have a place for the manure, but you have to get it there, so bring what implements make it easy for you. Hay is available nearby in Julian or Descanso if you run out or run out of room to haul it with you. Besides the hundreds of miles of trails, the State Park has an informative museum and gift store you can drive or ride to and the Cuyamaca Lake has some pretty tasty trout you may not want to miss out on. If you can't catch any you can visit one of the local eateries and let them do it for you. There are two restaurants across from each other and both have a lovely view of the lake. I will let you decide which you like the best. One thing that continues to attract visitors to the park is the wildlife. The meadows around the camp come alive with deer in the mornings and evenings. Every deer hunter in the county knows that here are the biggest, most beautiful specimens of mule deer anywhere. You can literally see hundreds at times. The deer are protected from the two legged hunters, but the four legged have free rein. Mountain lions will be anywhere the deer are. If that frightens you and you are lucky enough to have a close encounter with one, act like a great big ferocious dog barking and growling aggressively, they are cats, but if that is not enough carry some pepper spray. The aggressive ones have been eliminated. The raccoons will visit your camp, so put up your food and clean up after yourself. Wild turkeys have been reintroduced and they are everywhere, without the graces of the park management, the turkeys just don't respect the boundaries. Bobcats will thrill you with their shenanigans and the coyotes will sing you to sleep. The latest rumors to keep an eye out for are the bears who have mysteriously returned to their native ground. I have yet to see one, but have noticed what I believe to be their scat. The variety of wildflowers and birds are too numerous to mention, but wonderful to observe, they will have you looking in all directions no matter where you are. We are all visitors to this area and need to act accordingly so we don't have our rights revoked, the trails are multipurpose and are shared with hikers and bicycles, treat others with the respect they deserve, those intimidated by horses need to know their safety is not jeopardized and teach your horse to squat off the trail, no one likes to step in it. For more specific information call the park headquarters. 760 765 3020.--(reprinted from): Garry McClintock
Best Time to Visit Spring, Summer,Fall
Times to Avoid Winter
Campground Los Vaqueros is being used due to fire, which will accommodate up to 80 people and 45 horses in corrals. Los Caballos is in danger of never re-opening due to the Historical Indian Camp nearby uncovered by the fire, although it has been documented for 100's years and not disturbed. Equestrians are requesting it be re-opened with the Indian Camp protected.
Human Facilities: Horse Facilities: Operated by: Contact: Additional Information
shower,toilet,pump Corrals,Water ReserveAmerica
Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
12551 Highway 79
Descanso,CA, CA 91916
Directions Cuyamaca Rancho State Park Highway 79 Descanso,CA 91916
This information was provided by julie murphy on 11/8/2006 12:03:10 PM

Notes on Difficulty Rating:  
(Gently sloping or level terrain; trails are groomed or wide open; shallow or no creek crossings. ) 
 More Difficult (Moderate hills over consistent surface; possibly some narrow trails and short steeper slopes) 
 Rigorous (Easy to More Difficult for rider but physically challenging for horse such as on a level surface through deep sand) 
 Challenging (Possible rocky, uneven surface, steep slopes, uncleared trails, faster flowing streams and other obstacles that lead to more difficult riding for rider and horse)

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