View the Pine Creek trail video: http://www.facebook.com/v/1334760865455
"I would rate this trail as a five-star experience...The trail is very scenic, with a chance to see wild turkey, cattle ranging in the canyon, and perhaps even a mountain lion."
By Billy Ortiz
February 20, 2011 (Pine Valley) -- As I cross the the tallest bridge in San Diego County standing 450 feet tall high above Pine Creek, my anticipation grows. Soon my friends and I will be soon be hiking under this massive bridge, which was built in 1974. The Coronado Bridge, at 200 feet tall, would easily fit underneath it.
Our hike along the Pine Creek on this warm winter day in February begins in a stand of old growth oak trees, one of which is at least six to eight feet in diameter. It is a magnificent tree. Also, we find ruins of what was once a rock house next to this old tree.
As we start hiking, we soon hear the sound of rushing water. Anxious to get to our destination, we pick up the pace and soon we are greeted by the sight of the creek slowly meandering through cotton willows, wild raspberry and oaks.
Today I have come prepared with an underwater camera to film fish in the creek. It doesn't take long before someone spots an object darting in the water. As we go from pool to pool along the creek, we begin to discover that there are young fish fry living in the creek.
We move on downstream and come upon an old rock dam that appears to be partially torn down. More than likely it was torn down in part by the Department of Fish and Game to allow fish to move upstream. Down the trail we come to another impressive site the underside of the Pine Creek Bridge. Wow, is it tall!
One would not want to spend too much time under the bridge, which could be dangerous. We found tire pieces, car parts and other Items that have fallen from the traffic high above.
To add to the excitement, our friend Brandon locates a geocache on the east side of the canyon, just under the bridge tucked away and hidden in the large area of rubble rock left over from bridge construction.
I find myself at home hiking more strenuous trails like El Cajon Mountain but I have to admit, it was a thrill to go on this Secret Trail/ Pine Creek Trail hike. I will be back.
The Pine Creek trail is very navigable for young and old. Experienced and the not so experienced can easily negotiate down the single-track trail. My 8-year-old grandson joined us and although he won’t admit it, I can see that he is having a blast.
The Pine Creek is thick with trees in some areas, but also offers clearings to view the hillside dressed in flat grey chaparral with hints of pink and light blue. There is also a road up a little higher on the north side for horse riding. The trail gives at least two options. One is approximately a five-mile loop ,the one we are doing today. The other for the more experienced is a 15- mile hike down Pine Creek trail all the way to Barrett Lake--a hike that we plan to do later this spring.
I would rate this trail as a five-star experience. It’s easy to get to, with plenty of parking. The trail is very scenic with a chance to see wild turkey, songbirds, cattle ranging in the canyon, and perhaps even a mountain lion—yes, we found mountain lion tracks along the trail. Also, upstream from the trail head is one of the oldest bridges in the area. You can still drive over it, but it’s wonderful to park and walk on, or even under.
View our video adventure of Pine Creek trail at http://www.facebook.com/v/1292771415745.
Until next time, we hope you enjoy our beautiful East County.