Map showing location of Santa Margarita River County "Park"
The Santa Margarita River County "Park" in Fallbrook is a beautiful spot next to the river just downstream from the Santa Margarita River Trail. The "Park" is county-owned land, but has no signs indicating that it is a public area or giving any identification at all except for an old sign which says "No trespassing by order of the Board of Supervisors". Ken Weaver (see below) tells me that this sign is a leftover before the trails were put in, and should be ignored. If anyone from the county is reading this, please set the wheels in motion to take the sign down. Locals may wish to take a more direct approach.
The Park is probably most of the triangle formed by the River, De Luz Road and Sandia Creek Drive. (If you have any more precise information, I'd love to know it!) There is no identification of this Park on any map that I know of.
Park at the 2-car-length-wide strip on the north side of De Luz Road immediately west of the intersection of De Luz Road and Sandia Creek Drive, at what appears to be an old corral. Go through the pedestrian opening to the right of the closed white gate. The most direct trail to the river heads north beginning at the beautiful 70' wooden bridge across a creek constructed by Todd Dooley, a 17-year-old FUHS junior in spring 1997. There are a few intersections to pay attention to if you want to retrace your route rather than explore the park. It is a short (5-10') easy walk to the River.
As of November 1997, Mary Fillerup informed me that the trail is quite hard to spot. I checked it out on 15 November, and the trail has certainly gotten overgrown, indicating that the trail does not receive much use. I was able to follow the trail, but it requires having a rough idea of where the trail is and the ability to discern a faint trail. You can't even immediately see the bridge as you enter! Here are some more explicit directions to get you started:
When you go through the pedestrian opening to the right of the white gate, head straight toward the trees that are just to the right of the white fence in front of you. You will quickly see the bridge. About 7 paces after the bridge, the trail curves left and heads along, but toward, the white fence to your left. The trail is marked every so often by faded orange plastic strips tied to random plants, but these are indeed hard to spot. They serve mainly to verify that you are following the correct faint trail.
If you go there, think about taking along some hedge clippers or a hand pruner and doing some trail maintenance.
I'm told that another trail leads west that does not cross the wooden bridge that gets to the River in a slightly longer distance, but I haven't taken it yet.
The Nature Conservancy's regional office in Temecula and the Fallbrook Public Utility District co-sponsored a "River Awareness Day" on 26 April 1997 which was very successful in introducing me, as well as others from as far away as Temecula, Vista and Leucadia, to the park. Nancy Backstrand, President of Friends of the Santa Margarita River, conducted tours. See Steve Waterstrat's article in the North County Times, 4/27/97, B1.
For information about the Friends of the Santa Margarita River, call Nancy Backstrand at 909-677-7341 or Ken Weaver at 760-723-2448.
Copyright © 1997 by Tom Chester.
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to me at this source:
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Last update: 16 November 1997.