Monday, April 30, 2018

Secret Canyon Trail, Pine Creek Wilderness

As avid hikers who lived in San Diego for decades you'd think we would have hiked every single trail within a hundred miles of the city. But there actually are a few trails left for us to explore, and Secret Canyon was a lovely new find. I think we'd missed this beauty because its total length is about 16 miles. Fortunately our buddies Martin and Estella had hiked a portion of it and were happy to introduce us to this wonderful place.

Set in the 13,000 acre Pine Creek Wilderness, the northern trail head is accessed off Old Highway 80 near Pine Valley, CA. We hiked almost three miles one way, alongside pretty Pine Creek, under the impressive Nello Irwin Greer Memorial Bridge, to a rock flume built in 1895 but never completed.

Spring is the prettiest time to hike in San Diego, and even though we've had a very dry winter Pine Creek was flowing gently, grasses were abundant, the trees were all leafed out, and the yucca blooms were exploding all over the hillsides.

Pine Creek is small but beautiful!

Chaparral covered hillsides, oak lined creek bottoms, and the fresh leaves of spring right in the creek bed.

A truly lovely day on the trail!

About 1.5 miles in we see the Pine Creek/ Nello Irwin Greer Memorial Bridge.
Named after the man who designed Interstate 8, at 450 ft tall it is among the tallest bridges in the US.

Built in 1974 it was the first segmental balanced cantilever bridge in the US.

Estella and Chelsea enjoy the beauty of Pine Creek.

The yuccas were taller than us!

The unused flume built in 1895 made a great trail barrier.

Chelsea hitches a ride on Estella.

A perfect spot for lunch.

Last look down Pine Creek as we return to our car.

We were vigilant on the trail looking for rattlesnakes and ticks. We did see one tick during our lunch stop, so all of us were careful to do a tick check post hike. Despite that, Hans felt a pain in his belly the next morning and I discovered a tick in his belly button!

It was a challenging, but successful, removal. Fortunately the tick was only attached for a short time so he is probably safe from tick borne illnesses...We saved the carcass in case he starts showing any symptoms that we need to worry about. Next time we hike we'll use an insect repellent to make sure we avoid the creepy crawly things!

Regardless, springtime hiking in San Diego is awesome and we highly recommend Secret Canyon trail!


  1. Look at all that green! And a creek to hike beside is the icing on the cake! Interesting facts about the bridge Lisa. Glad the tick was found and of several things we do not miss about living in Georgia! Long sleeves and long pants with masking tape around the ankles was really hot in the summer, but necessary! Looking forward to more beautiful pictures and hikes...

  2. I can only think of one worse place for a tick bite...
    Nice hike, hope you rewarded yourselves with a couple IPAs :)

  3. You've let the secret out! The canyon will need a new name :) It is Spring, but still I was surprised at the amount of water in Pine Creek. Just one tick and no contact with the sumac, a very nice day on the trail.

  4. So fun to find a beautiful new hike in your old 'hood and to share it with friends. San Diego looks sooo lush and green. I don't think of ticks in southern California...those nasty little things are everywhere now! Glad to hear the operation was a success. :-))

  5. It was nice to see the green around the creek. Nice hike.

  6. What a beautiful hike through all the green! We've found two ticks in our travels - on on Tessa in Mississippi and one in the Jeep in Boulder City (don't tell Pam!) but we check for them all the time. Glad Hans discovered his hitchhiker quickly!!

  7. The trail is lovely but the geek engineer in me would hike it just to see that amazing bridge! Bummer about the tick, but good you got it out right away.

  8. It was so nice to see you out on the trail again!! Looked like a lovely hike with friends. Perfect little stream crossings! Yuck! Ticks are just everywhere. I hope lyme disease doesn't get as bad as it is back east. Good that Hans felt the tick before it got too deep and you were able to remove it.

  9. We've driven the exploRVistas caravan over that bridge, but we're unaware of what was under it. My, that is a beautiful hike, Hans and Lisa!

  10. What a beautiful hike Lisa! I had the willies when you started talking about ticks as Terry had to be treated for Lyme a few years ago after finding a bulls-eye on him. He seems to be a tick magnet. Glad you were able to get that nasty critter off of Hans.

  11. Found you from Linda's Lens and so glad I followed the link, what superb places to hike ahd see