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The Santa Margarita River from the trail. It’s like an oasis.

Down by the Santa Margarita RiverView All Sizes

The Santa Margarita River from the trail. It’s like an oasis.

Tranquil Santa Margarita RiverView All Sizes

JOURNAL : April 25, 2009

Hiking the Santa Margarita River Trail

Fallbrook > California > United States

Series Hiking the Santa Margarita River Trail
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The Santa Margarita trail follows its namesake river through the Santa Margarita River Canyon just north of Fallbrook, California. It's a leisurely day hike through a lovely desert oasis.

How to Get There

From the 15 freeway take Mission Road west until well into Fallbrook. A couple of block past the intersection of Mission Road and Main Avenue take Pico Avenue/De Luz Road north. After about a mile on De Luz, turn right on Sandia Creek Road (yum, watermelon creek!). Another mile and there's a dusty parking lot on the right, just before a bridge. See the map at the bottom of the page.

Hunt, June & Jasper

Hunt, June & Jasper

Our friends June and Hunt invited Jennifer and I on this pleasant afternoon walk. Our German Shepherds Jasper and Windsong nosed many friendly dogs along the trail.

Jasper heads over for a drink...

Jasper heads over for a drink...

Jennifer tries the water

Jennifer tries the water

After a few hundred yards the river hugs the trail closely. Shady trees create a welcome respite from the inexorable Southern California sun. Swimmable pools collect often and the temptation to jump in the cool, refreshing water is often overpowering.

A well-camouflaged rattlesnake on the Santa Margarita trail.

Rattlesnake on the TrailView All Sizes

¬°Cuidado la Vibora!

The shaking of its maraca alerted us to the presence of this rattlesnake more than the sight of it would have. As you can see, this pit viper was shrewdly camouflaged against casual observation.

The Santa Margarita River from the trail. It’s like an oasis.

Santa Margarita River CanyonView All Sizes

A brown Swift lizard near the Santa Margarita trail.

Swift Lizard

Another denizen of the desert, this swift lizard has a similar brown stripe pattern

About a half mile the trail branches off and one fork lopes over dry hill with a single shady tree at the top and down into the forest again. Embedded deep into the riverbank was a rusted but hardy 1957 Ford Country Squire station wagon.

We found this old rusted 1957 Ford Country Squire station wagon embedded into the riverbank of the Santa Margarita River Canyon.

A 1957 Ford Country SquireView All Sizes

Jennifer looks out over the Santa Margarita River Canyon.

Jennifer looks out over the canyon.

A huge boulder on the trail

A huge boulder on the trail

Look Forward to It

On the way back we lounged about on the smooth rocks and dabbled in the cool water. The Santa Margarita river is a great spot for a family picnic. Bring swimwear!

Windsong & Kanoa

Windsong & Kanoa

Santa Margarita River Canyon

The buffet through the stern skylight

Cruise Ship Buffet

On each side of the long dune are lakes and marshy areas. This trail was very steep on each end and formed a narrow isthmus through a scenic marsh. I had to be very careful not to slide off into the water.

Oregon Dunes

Old Plantation Building on St. John, USVI

Plantation Building

Aerial view of Mokuleia, Waialua, Haleiwa and the North Shore from the Glider

Waialua and Haleiwa

Fields Outside of Yangshuo

Yangshuo

Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Playa Norte

Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy

Santa Maria Novella

Homer Boat Harbor on the Spit.

Homer Boat Harbor

Waimea and Southern Kauai

Waimea, Kauai

Random Adventures!

The Ferry Chenega near Whittier, Alaska

The Ferry Chenega

A group of rocks just offshore from the coast near Ocean View Blvd and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Monterey Bay Coast

Downtown Seattle

Downtown Seattle

Paku’i & Ahiki Peaks of Olomana, with Waimanalo in the background

Paku’i & Ahiki

Smithsonian Castle, National Mall, Washington D.C.

Smithsonian Castle

Orange groves from perhaps 500 feet up in a hot air balloon.

Orange Groves