14209 Hwy 76, Pala, CA 92059
Hours: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., Thursday – Tuesday; Closed
Pedestrian access is available from sunrise to sunset, daily.
Day-use parking is $3.
No public vehicle access or restroom availability on December 25.
For safety reasons, parking within the preserve driveway outside the main gate is prohibited.
Acquired in 1973, Wilderness Gardens County Preserve is the oldest
Parks and Recreation open space preserve in San Diego County. Located
in the picturesque San Luis Rey River watershed, the vast 737-acre
preserve offers more than 4 miles of easy to moderate hiking trails
and is known as a birdwatcher's paradise.
Equestrians will appreciate the preserve’s staging area with picnic tables, portable restrooms and quick access to the trail system. The main trail is the most popular, and provides access to the preserve’s interior. The Alice Fries Trail is a half mile single-track trail that meanders near the San Luis Rey River. The Upper Meadow Trail provides a wonderful overview of the Preserve and San Luis Rey River corridor.
Listed on the County Historic Resource Board’s list of historic places, the foundation of the Sickler’s Grist Mill is a remnant of North San Diego County’s rich agricultural history and testifies to the resilience of those who pioneered the valley. Step into the on-site visitor’s center to learn more about the preserve’s colorful past. Be sure to bring water, a snack, and wear good footwear, and sun protection.