Marian Bear Park
From Wikipedia: Marian Bear Memorial Park parallels the San Clemente Canyon Freeway (State Route 52) (along northern canyon slopes), between its junctions with Interstate 5 (on west) and Interstate 805 (on east) at the ends. The park provides a natural setting in the midst of a busy urban area. The 467 acres of dedicated natural parkland include finger canyons and mesas on the south side.
The main canyon and its tributaries continue to support a population of resident wildlife including raccoons, skunks, rabbits, amphibians, reptiles, and birds, and serve as a pathway for coyote, fox, and other native mammals. Along the length of the canyon are coast live oak, California sycamore, and native willow tree woodlands, with an undergrowth of native and other plant species. The chaparral and riparian California native plant communities are closely defined by their microclimates and underlying soils.
The Native American Kumeyaay people had historically inhabited the area of San Diego County for 10,000 years. Evidence of their presence still remains in San Clemente Canyon.
In the late 19th century, this area was named Clemente Canyon for a native American rancher. During the 1970’s its natural ecosystem and habitats were threatened by plans to place the San Clemente Canyon Freeway (State Route 52) along the canyon floor.
Marian Bear, an active community leader and environmentalist, worked to preserve the canyon in its natural state. She was the driving force behind realigning the highway from the canyon floor to the north hillsides above it. In the 1980’s another community campaign resulted in an additional 72 acres in the southeast section added, for the present total of 467 acres.
Over 40 million years ago an ocean covered San Clemente Canyon during the Eocene epoch of the Paleogene period. Horizontal lines of round rocks at many levels, separated by clay and sand, represent the various levels of the ocean washing sand away and leaving rocks at surf level.
Fossilized mollusks, such as snails and clams from that period are still found in the canyon’s walls. The fossils are preserved in the sandstones and siltstones of the Scripps Formation that is best exposed in the roadcuts along Regents Road and Genesee Avenue.
From their website: The public can enjoy over three miles of mostly flat trails along the length of the canyon. More challenging hiking is available on the trails in several of the finger canyons leading up to the mesa tops. Biking is permitted on the maintenance roads in the canyon; no equestrian use is permitted. Major entries to the park are off Genesee Avenue and Regents Road where parking and picnic areas with restroom facilities are available.
A Park Ranger assigned to the park area provides interpretive programs, public assistance, guidance, enforcement, and protection. Volunteers are always welcomed in the maintenance and operation of the park.
When visiting the park, please observe the following rules:
Keep dogs on a leash throughout the park.
No fires or overnight camping.
No firearms, air rifles, slingshots, or projectile devices.
No glass containers.
No alcoholic beverages.
No off-road vehicle activity.
Personal Experience: These photos were taken December 2015. I am certain it is not nearly as green in summer, although there are a lot of shaded areas that most likely stay green all year long. We walked several miles and could have gone much further. Not only that but there are trail entrances from both sides of the parking lot. We took the trail that headed west. We found a lot of magic and beauty during our hike but I would recommend hiking in the cooler months if you want to replicate a trip like ours below.