When we started this blog back in April 2010 we kept it private for a couple of years, not wanting our employers to know we were considering pulling the plug on the working world. But the hike we did on our first day here reminded me that it was the location of my very first blog post!
Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Preserve has miles of trails meandering through the rolling foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains. Open grasslands are dotted with massive Engelmann oaks, riparian creek beds and even vernal pools after a wet winter. We've seen coyotes, snakes and deer here, and it's incredibly green and gorgeous in the spring (check out that first post for all the green!). Well worth a stop if you are in the Temecula/Murrieta area.
|We were enchanted by the swoopy clouds ushering in a mild front
that ended up dropping a few sprinkles on this very parched area over night.
Lake Skinner, actually a reservoir, was a peaceful place to stay for a few nights. If you want to check out the Temecula Wine Country the park is right on the North edge of the wine trail. The park is surrounded by beautiful coastal sage and boulder strewn hills, but you can only appreciate them from afar as they are protected and provide habitat for lots of wildlife, important in this area that has experienced a population explosion in the past 25+ years.
The lake is open to fishing and boating, though with the current low water level only one of the boat ramps is open. Swimming is not allowed in the reservoir. There are lots of family focused activities here: a large playground, splash pad, boat rentals, concert stage. There are a couple of large festivals held here each year, including the Temecula Balloon and Wine Festival.
This park can get crazy busy on weekends, especially in the summer. When we called just a couple of days prior to arrival to get a site for three nights (including a Friday night) we were told we got the last perimeter site in Loop C (reviewers say Loop C is the calmest place to be during peak times). Turns out the park was not even half full during our entire stay and we never had next door neighbors.
Roads are paved and sites are dirt with a picnic table and fire pit. The sites are fairly close together and the perimeter sites are generally much better than those in the middle rows. This was a very peaceful place to stay at this time of year, though the park will be FULL for Thanksgiving weekend. The only sounds at night were coyotes and owls. We had a decent Verizon signal that became full signal when boosted.
|Site 308 in C Loop is backed by a wide grassy area.
Though site 307 is close, in the foreground, we never had a neighbor during our stay.
|Lake Skinner is quite low but still provides pretty reflections and an excellent bird habitat.
|There's a cormorant rookery in the eucalyptus trees, at sundown they all took flight,
as well as a large flock of Great Egrets, a few are visible bottom right.