Santa Ysabel East Loop

With the Excessive Heat Warning in place, I knew that whatever hiking I did need to be early in the morning and not too strenuous. I still had some hikes left on this year’s Coast to Crest Challenge and the Santa Ysabel East Loop fit the requirements perfectly. Ted and I arrived just before 7:30, and there was one car parked at the trailhead. We gathered our gear and set off, the day was already warm as we made our way past the herd of cows munching away on the grasses.

After safely passing the cows, the trail began its climb up toward the top. We would gain over 500 feet is just about 1/2 of a mile. That certainly got our heart rates up, plus we could feel the warmth of the day.

We came to the junction of the loop and decided to take it counter-clockwise. After a brief flat section, we had a small climb to the next junction. Here a couple of picnic tables are tucked away under the nice of some oaks. I took my selfie for the challenge. Ted had never hiked here before, so I point out the trail leading off from here that would connect to the Kanka Flat section of the preserve. I have yet to hike this section, maybe this fall I will…

Everyone who hikes this trail is duly impressed with the signage that marks each junction. A lot of love and care went into making them. We continued on the loop, heading northward for a bit, before circling back. Some more views of the Santa Ysabel were spread before us.

We kept cruising along until we again reached the base of the ridge. The cows had moved on, probably looking for shade, as were we. The temperature had already hit the mid-80s in just the 1:35 we had been hiking. The entire loop is about 4.2 miles and does have a nice 900+ feet of gain.


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, 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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