Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve: The creek provides a relaxing riparian backdrop for this popular loop trail. I'd call it more of a valley han a canyon. It's a popular 3720 acre oasis of a nature preserve amid the traffic of Southern California. It's home to birds (we heard many and saw few), cougars and coyotes. The scenery varies from forest to open grass areas. Most of the trail is open to the sun, with not much shade.
You can choose the distance of your loop depending on where you cross the creek. There is a small waterfall along the creek.
Take I-5 to Carmel Valley Road and drive east for 0.2 miles. At El Camino Real, turn right and continue for another mile to Carmel Mountain Road. Turn right travel 0.6 miles to Sorrento Valley Road and turn left. Another 0.3 miles brings you to Sorrento Valley Blvd. Turn left again (at the traffic signal) and go 1 mile to the staging area.
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