We're settled in at Santee Lakes Recreational Preserve for a month; our favorite, inland, full hook up park. We are in site 267, backing up to a nice grassy area, with low traffic, few neighbors and the sound of the creek burbling nearby. The park upgraded their internet service this past year, thank goodness, because this park is a black hole for Verizon service.
|That's our Montana in the center of the photo.
Only one neighbor and lots of park space around us.
We wasted no time in hitting the trail with friends Martin and Estella and their adorable new family member, Chelsea. Santee Lakes is very close to Mission Trails Regional Park which has miles and miles of trails offering great views of San Diego. Some of the trails can be extremely busy any day of the week due to their proximity to neighborhoods (like Cowles Mountain Trail), but if you don't want to drive far and are looking for a good workout give the South Fortuna Trail or Big Rock Trail a try.
|Estella holding Chelsea, Martin, Hans
|Miss Chelsea is super photogenic!
On another day we met up with Hans brother, Norm, to hike the Ellie Lane Trail at Iron Mountain. Just like Cowles Mountain Trail noted above, the main Iron Mountain trail is very popular. Less crowded, and more strenuous, is the Ellie Lane Trail. The parking lot is just a half mile North of the main Iron Mountain trail head. This trail goes through some wonderful giant granite boulders and offers excellent views of San Diego and Ramona.
|Brothers on the trail: Hans and Norm.
|You can see the ocean from this saddle.
The trail wound up through the rocky hillside on the right and then up the canyon below.
One of the best things about Santee Lakes are the variety of animals that are drawn to the lakes. We've seen a red breasted sapsucker out our window, many raptors glide overhead searching for a meal, coyotes make their yip yapping racket several times a day, raccoons leave dirty footprints on our picnic table and water fowl are abundant on the water.
|Kingfishers always look like they're having a bad hair day!
|Cormorants enjoy the sun surrounded by dozens of coots.