The Inaja Memorial NATURE TRAIL in Santa Ysabel
Our family absolutely loves the scenic and winding drive up to Julian, CA for some hot apple cider and warm apple pie on lazy Sunday mornings in the fall. Many locals from San Diego and surrounding cities have also been clued into the absolute treasure the sleepy town of Julian is – but there are still many treasures and adventures to be had. One of those treasured spots is the Inaja Memorial located in Santa Ysabel.
The Inaja Memorial Nature Trail in Santa Ysabel is a memorial to 11 brave firefighters who lost their lives while battling a devastating wildfire in November 25, 1956. This idyllic location pays respect to those men who lost their lives and is a great reminder for all generations to appreciate the land many have fought for. Along with these great memorials and placards, there is a wonderful nature trail to hike along and take in the fantastic views of rugged San Diego River Canyon.
The nature trail begins just past the picnic area and immediately rewards hikers with wonderful views. The trail is a winding one that hugs corners and dips behind wonderful rock formations that dot the chaparral and manzanita covered hillsides. Our oldest son, 6 at the time, immediately took off running on this trail happily exclaiming the trail is actually a “rollercoaster!”
The hiking loop leads to a very scenic summit that sits at approximately 3440 feet. From here, hikers are able to enjoy great views and even look through a viewing scope that points to various geographical points throughout San Diego. The kids enjoy feeling like pioneers looking into the scope as far as the eye can see in many directions.
From this highpoint, the nature loop leads back down towards the parking area where families can prepare for more days adventures.
Distance from downtown San Diego: About 58 miles. Allow 1 hour and 25 minutes (Santa Ysabel). From Ramona, drive east toward Julian on SR-78 to Santa Ysabel and continue approximately 2 miles further, heading up the hill. Look for the Forest Service sign for the Inaja Picnic Area on your right, just before the road curve, and exit there and park. CNF Adventure Pass required.