Portions are steep which may make this route a strenuous run.
From the wide Soledad Road
, you'll see the offshoot to the left for the Cherry Canyon Trail.
Singletrack in nature, you'll wind your way up Windmill Canyon. In spring, lush displays of paintbrush, lupine, and island coreopsis all compete for your attention as you gain elevation. After about half a mile on the trail itself, a switchback will help you to climb out of the canyon to a series of grassy plateaus, affording views of sandy-bottomed, ice-blue Betchers Bay.
As you traverse the humped fields of the island, you could see a resupply plane landing on the rustic airstrip below. You may also connect at this point (by turning right and uphill) to Telephone Road
- a wide fire road that leads you up to Black Mountain and even lovelier views of Santa Rosa Island. If you choose to continue straight, keep an eye out for an adorable member of the recovering dwarf Santa Rosa Island fox population.
After 1.7 total miles on the Cherry Canyon Trail, you'll descend steeply down towards the Coastal Road
. The use of trekking poles here is helpful for many.
Note: Reversing the Cherry Canyon Trail route is possible; however, note that the steep trail up from near Water Canyon campground is challenging to identify if you do not know what you are looking for. There is an interpretive sign there that is a good marker for the Cherry Canyon Trailhead. From this direction, remember it is singletrack and goes straight up from the Coastal Road
junction – NOT from the Water Canyon Road.
At first glance, a long grazing history makes this island look like much of California. However, it is an oasis of wildflowers, endemic plants, and animals.
Santa Rosa Island Foxes, whose populations were once endangered, have recovered to historic population sizes. A sighting isn’t rare, and is always special. The Island Foxes, unique and endemic to each island, have undergone dwarfism and are about the size of a house cat. Don’t feed them! They are very bold and very adorable. Raisins and chocolate are deadly and painful ways for these foxes to die - don't drop your GORP!
Torrey Pines, found nearby on the Torrey Pines Trail
are considered to be one of the rarest pines in the world. Huge pine nuts are teeth-cracking hard. This remnant population is a holdover from the Pleistocene era.