A Stroll on the Wild Side: San Timoteo Nature Sanctuary

Getting to the Redlands’ San Timoteo Sanctuary from Palm Springs was a pleasant 40-minute drive, offering a welcome escape from the sweltering desert heat. Upon arriving at the parking lot, which was easy to find, we were a bit concerned by the numerous shattered glass fragments scattered along the length of the lot. Despite this initial worry, we were eager to explore the sanctuary and chose from the various hiking options available.

Cocomaricopa Trail

We settled on the Cocomaricopa Trail, a 2.3-mile easy trail that winds through the flatland along the creek. The trail, which starts at the sanctuary’s entrance, is adorned with beautiful orange poppy flowers that beckon hikers forward. Shared by horses, hikers, and bikers, the trail offers a bike bell at the beginning for bikers to use and return at the end, a thoughtful gesture that helps hikers enjoy the hike without constantly worrying about oncoming cyclists. Along the way, we encountered several bikers who courteously let us know about the shared nature of the trail.

As we meandered through the rolling hills, we couldn’t help but notice the large, impressive homes with their spectacular views, making us a bit envious. The dirt path was easy to traverse, lined with lush green trees and inviting shrubs adorned with beautiful yellow flowers basking in the soft sunlight. The trail was also home to numerous lizards sunbathing in the larger holes along the path. We couldn’t help but notice the abundance of bird droppings and animal feces, sparking a lively debate among us about whether they belonged to a mountain lion, rabbit, or lynx, which kept us entertained and distracted from the distance we were covering.

The Creek

About 30 minutes into the hike, we reached the creek, a small, muddy flow that ran alongside the trail, its soothing sound providing a peaceful backdrop to our hike. We also caught sight of the Carriage Trail winding through the hills, making a mental note to explore it on our next visit, as it resembled a slithering snake through the landscape.

Further along, about a mile into the hike, we encountered a large open space with a noticeable crack in the ground, as if it had been eroded or experienced an earthquake. Our kids had a blast jumping back and forth over it, adding a bit of fun to our hike. Nearby, the creek widened into a wide flood control area with a small stream running through it, showing signs of wear and tear. “It has seen better days,” my wife remarked, but we continued along the path until we reached a wooded area with tall trees providing much-needed shade.

Past the wooded area, we came to a clear path that led us to a pond, marking the end of the 2.3-mile one-way trail. But the adventure wasn’t over yet—we still had to hike all the way back to the car. We started the return journey, stopping for a water break and letting the kids enjoy the pond, where they searched for fish and watched the birds.

The Pond

The pond, while not as impressive as we had imagined, was a satisfying sight, indicating to me that it was time for my wife to turn around. When she’s determined to finish a trail, it’s hard to convince her to turn back. We retraced our steps, this time facing an uphill hike, which surprisingly wasn’t as challenging as we had anticipated. By the time we reached the car after the roughly 5-mile hike.

As we bid farewell to the sanctuary, a wave of relief washed over us—our car, miraculously unscathed amidst the broken glass saga, awaited our return. And so, with memories made and muscles weary, we departed, leaving behind the sanctuary’s embrace but carrying its spirit within us. Until next time, San Timoteo, until next time.

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