Walker Preserve Trail

I wanted to get something in before the rains came later in the day. So I decided to go explore the Walker Preserve Trail out in Santee/Lakeside. I convinced Jeremy to join me on this adventure. The gates to the parking lot were closed, so we found parking along a nearby street, as all the parking along Magnolia Avenue was taken. I later learned that this parking lot is used for staging for the restoration and clean-up efforts. After passing under a nice trailhead sign, a nice gazebo stood off to the side, along with some picnic benches. Just beyond that, a water fountain for humans and another one for your dog are available. The only bathroom appears to be a port-a-potty. We passed a large group of hikers that were milling about and set off down the nice wide and well-groomed dirt path.

Houses lined the left side of the trail, but the San Diego River would appear from time to time behind the brush. The sound of various birds would fill the air as we cruised eastward. There were several informational panels posted along the way, explaining some of the history of the area, most notably the sand mining that used to occur here. There was a short spur that led to a nice bench and a lovely view of the river. It is possible to access the river at certain points, where you might find some trying their luck fishing.

The trail splits at one point and makes a tiny climb to reveal two more picnic tables under some trees. The trail rejoins again and continues onto toward the Lakeside Baseball Park. There is water here, and when the field is in use, the bathrooms are available. We continued eastward, technically leaving the Walker Preserve Trail and joining the Lakeside River Trail. The houses to the north were now replaced with warehouses. We went under Riverford Road and then passed by a pocket park. The trail made a short dog leg and then passed by the Willowbrook Golf Course. We also came across a nice wooden view deck that has a nice view of the river. There was an unhoused person sleeping there, so we let him be and continued on. When reached Channel Road, we took a short break and worked our way back to the start. On the way back, we saw someone sitting in that pocket park with their binoculars scanning the field to the west for birds. We got back to the car, having beat the rain. The entire hike was 5.9 miles, with a whopping elevation gain of 34 feet (the short climb on the side trail was really something), and we did it in just under 2 hours of moving time.

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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