Tuesday, March 29, 2016

William Heise County Park

Our final stop on our little getaway from San Diego was three nights at William Heise County Park. The park sits at 4200 feet in oak and pine forest at the northern edge of the Cuyamaca Mountain Range, just minutes from the quaint, touristy mountain town of Julian. Deer and turkey are frequent park visitors, even on busy weekends.

There are 20 electric-only sites and 37 dry sites that can accommodate up to 40 ft RVs, as well as 42 tent only sites and several cabins for rent. The park is very busy on weekends, and our Easter weekend stay was no exception. There are several miles of trails throughout the park, many of them are rather steep, and we did not encounter too many people on the trails.

The nearby towns, Julian and Wynola, are just an hour from San Diego and are extremely popular for day trippers. In fact, one day Hans' parents and brother and sister-in-law came out for a drive and lunch with us...a perfect way to spend a gorgeous spring day.

Turkey trotting through the middle of the partial hookup sites soon after we arrived.

There's live music on the weekends at Wynola Pizza.
Sara Petite is a well known San Diego musician.

Nearby hiking includes Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve, just a few miles from William Heise, offers several miles of trails. At the top, on a clear day, you can see both the desert and the ocean!

Entrance gate at Volcan Mountain.

Looking down on apple orchards and vineyards.
It's the end of March and everything is GREEN!

We look back on our trail snaking across the hill below.
This is looking west...on a clear day we may have been able to see the ocean on the horizon.

Behind us is Anza Borrego desert where we'd just spent nine days.
The high point behind my left shoulder is Whale Peak, which we'd climbed the previous week!

William Heise County Park was one victim of the enormous 2003 Cedar Fire which burned over 280,000 acres, the largest wildfire in California history. In the photo below taken from the parks' Desert View Trail the campground is located in the swath of trees in the center and both the distant and the near hillsides were completely burned away and are now covered with thick chaparral brush.

Both the near and far hillsides were once covered in tall trees and large manzanita bushes.
Today, 13 years after the Cedar Fire, they are covered in chaparral with a few trees trying to make a comeback.
This portion of the Cedar Trail actually goes through the remaining forest.
The Cedar Fire did sweep through here though and thousands of young cedar trees line the trail
promising a lush forest for future generations.
Skeletons of burnt oak trees tower above Hans on the Cedar Trail.
After so much time they are toppling over one by one.

I forgot to take multiple photos of our site at William Heise. In the electric-only section 20 sites are laid out around a circle. Many of them are two or more sites sharing the same parking area...not our cup of tea. Some sites throughout the park are quite unlevel.

We chose site #11, one of the few sites that did not share space, and it turned out to be extremely narrow, just barely fitting our rig and truck, we had no room to spare on either side due to trees and bushes. Thank goodness we only have slides on one side, a rig with opposing slides would not have fit in this site!

Fortunately we had a nice big area behind our site for our sitting area, though it was open to the neighbors so no privacy. There was also access to some wonderful terrain for Rosie to explore. If we stay here again we'd want site #8 or #12 in the electric-only section. There were also some beautiful, large, private sites in the dry section, such as site #22.

Verizon signal is excellent at this park.

That's our Montana jammed into site #11.
Site #12 on the right had a little more room to maneuver.

Six turkeys parading through our sitting area on Easter morning.
Rosie loved exploring among the bushes and trees behind the turkeys.

In kitty heaven!

We are now back in San Diego till mid May for sure. Fingers crossed my mom continues to improve...


  1. My fingers are crossed for you too!

    As much as I love the desert, I do enjoy a trail in a forest...so sad to read about the fire.

    Love those Rosie pictures!

    1. I have to say it was nice to arrive in the spring green after a stint in the desert!

  2. Great choice in a great location! You're from CA? and didn't mention the wine tasting? :) Menghini Merlot was top notch, but the Cedar Fire, you mention, took the Merlot field, now replaced with Syrah. A shout out to the volunteers who helped save the town, while some lost their own homes, the fire station itself, and one of their own.

    Great post on one of our favorite parks and the great hikes it offers.

    1. Hah, you're right! The opportunity was never right to hit a winery. It is a shame the vines were destroyed by the fire...but I saw many more fields of grapes driving around the area now than I used to pre-fire. They seem to be overtaking the apples!

  3. That photo of your campsite with the turkeys parading through is hilarious! They were probably celebrating that it was Easter instead of Thanksgiving, haha! We've thought about staying at that park, so thanks for the tour. Very cool entrance to the Volcan Mountain hike.

  4. Glad you had a good mini vacation. Hope your mom continues to get better!

  5. I love the picture of Rosie with her head in the log. Too cute, that kittie. That's a nice looking area for a mini-break. Hope your Mom is improving and that all will be well for her.

  6. I recognize that trail head. The Gang drove up there one day to escape Anza Borrego's heat, only to endure Santa Anna winds. We headed to over to Julian for pie afterwards :) It is quaint, for a tourist town.
    Box Canyon Mark

    1. Yesterday there were 77 mph winds on Volcan...glad we weren't trying to hike it then!

  7. Love seeing a green California. You really do have some nice close to "home" places to get away. We did that last summer in Shenandoah. Great turkey shots - that Gobbler is dressed to impress. Rosie is my kind of cat. Love seeing her adventures. Sending our best thoughts and wishes to your mom for continued improvement in her health.

    1. Spring green is San Diego counties best color! Especially after a "wet" winter.

  8. Excellent post. I really enjoy my virtual trips with you and Hans. Do hope Mom gets better soon.

  9. So interesting to see the terrain restore itself after a devastating fire. Can't believe it's been that long since so much of SoCal was on fire! Laurel had the same thought - I figured rabbits must show up to the campsites at Thanksgiving :-) Your hike looks wonderful, hope Mom continues to heal and that May will see you back on the trails.

    1. I agree, fire is so devastating but so renewing as well!

  10. We enjoyed our hike up Vulcan Mountain, wind and all.
    Glad to hear your mom is improving.

  11. Who knew there was a park so close to Julian! It does look a little tight but you were probably away most of the time anyway:) Looks like great hikes! Rosie is so cute with her face in that hole:) Hope your mom continues to improve:)

    1. There are actually numerous places to stay in San Diego's mountains.

  12. Sounds like a great time away for you both. When you mentioned being at the summit and seeing both ocean and desert, it reminded me of skiing at Heavenly in Lake Tahoe. At the top we could see both Nevada and California. Sending positive thoughts for your mom.

  13. Even if you were not thrilled about the campsite, Rosie was in heaven! If we stay too long in CA we could stay here and follow your trails.
    Glad to hear your mom is improving, and so glad too that you can get an R&R in between.

  14. What, all that hiking so close to Julian and no PIE?? ;-) Sending continuing good thoughts about Mom.