Survey of Lusardi Preserve

August 6, 2009

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The Thomas Guide (page 1168 J4) shows Lusardi Creek and Rio Vista Rd., location of the entrance to Lusardi Preserve, according to the San Diego County Parks website. However, it does not show the preserve.

The official Lusardi Creek Preserve map shows the preserve and trails, but the streets are hard to identify.

I drove to the preserve entrance on Rio Vista Rd. and surveyed the preserve on my mountain bike. There is a sign roughly at the midpoint of the east-west portion of Rio Vista Dr. on the south side of the road, and it says "Lusardi Preserve". I couldn't find a parking space next to the sign, but I found parking on Rio Vista Rd. closer to Artesian Rd.

This is the only indisputably public access point. The other three access points shown on the official map are on what are aguably private roads.

I first checked out the trail leading to the view point. The view point is not marked, although the views are quite good. The trail peters out about a half-mile from the trailhead. Social trails and crude paths may plunge into the canyon.

I then checked out the trail running due west. It does not run parallel to Rio Vista Dr., as suggested by the trail map. However, I was able to find the trail easily where Rio Vista Dr. turns north.

The trail itself is rather narrow and has a few steep, unridable and overgrown parts. It emerges at a signed trailhead on a north-south dirt road labeled "Avenida de Pompeii" in the Thomas Guide. It is apparently an access road for power lines running north and south in this area.

I went north on "Avenida de Pompeii" to Artesian Rd. At this point, the road is signed as "private", which often means government-owned but not open to the public. Across the road, where the Thomas Guide shows the "San Dieguito River Park Coast to Crest Trail", the road and the power lines that it serves continue north. There is a gate across the road, with a rather well-beaten double track bypass around it. I checked it out, and it does go all the way to the part of the Coast to Crest Trail that I explored on May 25, 2009.

I then returned to the first trailhead by way of Artesian Rd. and Rio Vista Rd. and set out on the third trail, the one that does down to Lusardi Creek. It is actually an access road; I had seen a maintenance vehicle on it earlier.

Signs at the trailhead warn of a washout. At the bottom of the canyon, where the trail crosses Lusardi Creek, there is indeed a water crossing, where I dismounted and used stepping-stones to carry my bike across. A good four-by-four could probably cross with some difficulty.

The road goes up the other side of the canyon. Most of it was ridable or drivable, except for one section that was very steep. Side trails go off to the east, mostly to power line towers or view points. There is probably at least an informal connection to Santaluz Open Space, but I didn't explore that area.

There is indeed a trailhead sign and gate where shown on the official trail map. The road continues roughly southeast and emerges on San Dieguito Rd. just west of the San Diego city limits. A side trail leads to one of the leveled building lots on Rock View Ct.

I returned to Lusardi Creek and followed the other road downstream to Artesian Rd. The two stream crossings shown on the trail map exist, and they are easily passible concrete-paved dips. There is a gate where shown on the trail map, with a well-beaten path around it. Signage at Artesian Rd. includes both an open space preserve sign and a private-road sign.

Artesian Rd. crosses the San Dieguito River in an interesting wooded area. The connection between Artesian Rd. and Zumaque St. is still gated, but the gate is low and easily surmounted by a pedestrian or bicyclist. Bicyclists have been using this passage across the San Dieguito River for many years.

The preserve clearly isn't ready for prime time. However, as the Santaluz Preserve is developed, or the Coast to Crest Trail is extended, it may become part of something bigger.

The topo is of limited use because it does not show many new roads and streets built after the topo was last updated.

Transcript of survey.
Photo annotations.
Data plotted on topo.

Philip J. Erdelsky