Monday, March 18, 2024

Hollenbeck Canyon Wildlife Area Hike (plus Granite Lion Cellars)

On St. Patrick's Day, Tori and I drove down to Jamul to hike the Hollenbeck Canyon Wildlife Area.  The 6,100-acre preserve provides a wildlife corridor between Otay Mountain and the Jamul Mountains. The property was a cattle ranch owned by the Daley Family until it was purchased by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and designated a wildlife area in 2001. A $5 Lands Pass is required to enter so we made sure to purchase and print the Day Pass ahead of time since the internet signal is bad at the trailhead.

The Honey Springs Ranch Truck Trail is a 4.7 mile out-and-back trail with a small loop at the far end. The trail follows the creek and there were four stream crossings in the first mile. We were prepared to get our feet wet, but the water was low enough to use the stepping stones. Be careful since a few stones were pretty wobbly. As the trail left the side of the creek and started to climb the canyon, we had great views of the rocky Skyline Preserve and Lyons Peak in the distance.

Most of the elevation gain was gradual as we hugged the left side of the steep gorge. In the canyon below, we could see a rocky cascading waterfall. At the fork in the trail, we started the loop portion with a steep climb up the back of the mountain where we gained about 400 feet of the 662 total hike elevation.

At the top, we had a great view of the green hills of Jamul spreading out South before us.  In the distance, see could see the entire width of Otay Mountain that runs along the US-Mexico Border. This was my favorite part of the hike as we descended through the valley and climbed a small ridge with another great view of the lower canyon.

At the end of the loop, we rejoined the original trail along the tree-lined creek. We were startled by the buzzing warning of a rattlesnake as we watched it slither across our path and into the bushes. Near the trailhead, the green grassy hills reminded me of the famous Windows XP Desktop Screen.

After our hike, we drove over to the nearby Granite Lion Cellars for a wine tasting. We were starving so we shared a plate of Teriyaki Chicken, Garlic Shrimp and New York Steak from the onsite food truck, Hibachi Catering. It really hit the spot and we also took home a bottle of their Lyon's Peak wine.

On the drive home, we stopped in Lemon Grove to see the Giant Lemon and check out the Hidden Murals along the back alleys.

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