William Heise County Park

Joined Larry Edmonds’ Hike of the Month for a group hike through the various trails of William Heise County Park. I hadn’t been there in a long time, so this was a perfect opportunity to explore the park. The basic plan was to meet at the Day-Use parking area and then follow a mostly counter-clockwise route along the trail system.

Our first section to explore was the Fern Trail. We followed the Kelly Ditch trail for a bit, crossing over Cedar Creek. At a nicely signed junction, we turned onto the Fern Trail. Wildflowers still dotted the sides of the trail and we would stop from time to time to photograph them. The Fern Trail reconnects with the Kelly Ditch trail. For the very adventurous, you can hike this trail all the way to Lake Cuyamaca! 

Once we turned north, we headed toward the east and began hiking the Potter Loop. We had some lovely views of the surrounding mountains as we completed the one-mile loop. Once we were together again we began the short climb back toward the campground. Here we followed the Cedar Trail’s eastern section. After crossing back over the dry Cedar Creek, switchbacks made the climb a bit easier. The next trail we set off for was the Self-Guided Nature Trail on the east side of the campground. The smells of breakfast filled the air as we walked along the roads toward our trailhead.

We would take this trail for a short while until it connected with the Desert View Trail. Along the way, signs would identify the various trees and possible wildlife that could be found here. While we had a few short climbs so far, this section of our hike would have some measurable gain. Susie and I soon found ourselves at the front and cruised upward toward Glen’s View. We reached the end of the short spur trail and dropped our packs. The Salton Sea’s blue waters shone off in the distance. Familiar peaks rose around us—Granite, North Peak, Villager, and many more. The rest of the group arrived and took a nice break at the summit. 

After swapping tales of other hiking adventures for a bit, we set off to continue westward along the Desert View Trail. Some nice westerly views were spread out before us as we hiked down the rocky trail. Susie and I had once again pulled far ahead of the group. We came to a junction that could take us on a more direct path back to the campground or continue on to the Canyon Oak Trail. We both were a bit hungry, so we opted to skip the longer option and go on toward my car. Once back at the parking lot, I left a note for Larry on his car. After a quick stop at Calico Cidery to fill our growlers, we popped into Dudley’s for some sandwiches. While we waited for them, we chatted about our upcoming trip to climb Half Dome. This was a nice saunter through some nice trails with some lovely fellow hikers.

I am an avid peak bagger, sometimes backpacker, and former sea kayaker living in San Diego. In 2019, I became the third person to complete the San Diego 100 Peak Challenge. Not stopping with that accomplishment, I set my sights on the harder San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list, which I completed in 2021. In addition, I have conquered several Six-Pack of Peaks challenges (SoCal, San Diego, Central Coast, and Arizona-Winter). Beyond attempting the San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list a second time, I am looking forward to exploring new summits and new adventures across the southwest. 

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