William Heise County Park, located four miles from Julian by car, is a forested jewel of the San Diego County Park system. It has one of the best campgrounds I've seen, with piped water, abundant flush toilets, and individual showers in the common restrooms. The campground is not a secret - for example, for the weekend of 22-24 October 1999 all 41 tent sites, 61 RV sites, and several "youth areas" (for Boy Scout Troops, etc.) were booked at least several days in advance. Hence your visit to the park will vary depending on whether you go on a weekend or weekday.
The Park contains three short loop trails 0.8, 1 and 1.25 miles long that are almost completely shaded, and the 2.25 mile Desert View Loop Trail that still is ~20% shaded by trees and very tall manzanita bushes. I can't recall being shaded by manzanita bushes in any other location except Agua Tibia. The 0.8 mile Nature Trail has beautiful permanent identifiers for a number of plants, including, for example, several different species of manzanita.
From SR-79 ~1 mile west of Julian, take Pine Hills Road south to Frisius Road. Go east directly into the Park. The route is well signed, and takes about 10 minutes from SR-79. Information 858-694-3049; reservations 877-565-3600 (inside San Diego County); 858-565-3600 (outside San Diego County). There is a $2 day use parking fee, paid at the entrance kiosk using self-pay envelopes when the kiosk is not staffed. One can park either just outside the entrance kiosk; continue ~0.6 miles through the campground to the Canyon Oak Trail Parking by Campsite #64; or continue slightly farther to the Trail Parking by Campsite #77.
County of San Diego's William Heise County Park and Map.
William Heise County Park from San Diego Magazine.
Desert View Loop Hike, T. Chester
Copyright © 1999-2004 by Tom Chester.
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Last update: 24 February 2004.