DOS PICOS PARK
Two words characterize Dos Picos Regional Park:
Oaks and mountains. Its name, Spanish for “two peaks,” is derived from two prominent mountains nearby. In the shelter of these mountains, the small valley harbors a park filled with oak trees, some of them up to 300 years old. Dos Picos is surrounded by ranchland and steep rocky slopes, which help preserve its secluded atmosphere. The peaceful, shady park is particularly well-suited for campers and picnickers. It is located 46 miles northeast of San Diego.
The First Inhabitants
Twentieth-century visitors have enjoyed Dos Picos for two decades, but they are by no means the first to be attracted to the area. Native Americans were living here 7000 years ago, lured by the abundant oak trees. These people, the Ipai, gathered their food from what nature provided – in this case a bountiful supply of acorns. Meal ground from these acorns was a staple of their diet.
Dos Picos Regional Park was designed for campers and picnickers. Each campsite and picnic bench is fitted into the 78-acre area as naturally as possible. Tent sites, RV sites with partial hookups, and a caravan area offer alternatives for overnight stays. A holding tank, disposal station, and hot showers are additional amenities for campers. Visitors will enjoy the nature trail, horseshoe pits, play areas, and soccer field. Anglers might visit Lake Poway or Lake Sutherland, both a short distance away. Hikers often visit nearby Mt. Woodson. In the town of Ramona are the Guy B. Woodward Museum and Collier Park. The world-famous Wild Animal Park is 30 minutes away.
Dos Picos was home to much animal and plant life back then, and fortunately for us it has remained a natural haven. Coyote, fox, possum, skunk, and raccoon are all seen in the park. The wide range of habitats supports a large number of birds. Great blue herons, great egrets, and several species of ducks can be found on the pond. The oaks are home to red-shouldered hawks, woodpeckers, scrub jays, and western bluebirds, among others. California quail are afoot in the early mornings, while the evening skies are filled with the sounds of resident barn, screech, and great horned owls.
Not all the winged creatures are birds: many butterflies and moths live in or pass through the park. Especially interesting is the huge Cecropia moth. This colorful member of the silkworm family feeds at night on the native Ceanothus, or California lilac.
Supporting the abundant wildlife is a mixture of chaparral, open grassland, and oak woodland. Coast live oak is the predominant tree, although Engelmann oaks occur throughout the park. The chaparral consists of Scrub oak, California buckwheat, Chamise, Manzanita, Ceanothus, and White and Black sage.
Visitors often remark on the huge boulders that dot the hillsides. These were formed when the granitic rock that makes up the mountains was brought to the surface by movements of the earth’s crust. Over eons, exposure to the wind and rain has worn the granite to its present configuration.
Dos Picos County Park offers both day picnic areas and overnight camping areas. There is room for RV’s with complete hook-ups as well as tent camping. There is also a caravan camping area sitting on top of the hill for group camping with a new enclosed picnic area.
Dos Picos County Park has lots of shaded picnic tables with BBQ’s, horse shoe area, nature hiking trails, a large pond/lake for fishing, group picnic area with stage, and lots of open grass areas. There are quite often weddings and car shows going on. A beautiful backdrop for any special occasion! During certain times of the year, the rangers host an educational campfire about the wildlife of the area in conjunction with animal rescue services.