Friday marked the completion of a new hiking trail in the Ramona Grasslands Preserve.
The four-mile trail through chaparral and oak woodlands will loop around the southwest portion of the 3,500-acre property. It offers 350-degree views for hikers, bikers and horseback riders.
The preserve has never been accessible to the public due to the wide variety of sensitive native species.
San Diego County received a grant to construct the trail, in the hopes that the restoration would protect the Santa Maria Creek and its surrounding habitats. The final project is jointly supported by The Nature Conservancy and the county.
When the city began construction of the trail, they discovered an endangered population of Stephens kangaroo rats. Development came to a halt until city officials could relocate the rats to a protected habitat.
“Protecting the Ramona Grasslands has been a substantial effort, and by opening it up for low-impact recreational uses such as this hiking trail, the public can enjoy this special place while still protecting the amazing nature it has to offer for future generations,” said The Nature Conservancy Senior Project Director Chris Basilevac.
The area is relatively protected from wind and is home to several native grasses and natural ponds. Animals in the preserve include the endangered, the San Diego fairy shrimp, and the arroyo toad.
The trail begins just east of Archie Moore Road and before Highlander Drive.