The Hoyt Park Trail in Scripps Ranch offers a chance to escape traffic and crowds in a quiet canyon shaded by eucalyptus trees. It is a short distance from the Scripps Ranch Village Shopping Center and less than a mile south of Miramar Lake. An easy hike popular with weekend recreationists and weekday walkers of all ages, it centers on Hoyt Park, a grassy field with a children’s playground at the intersection of Aviary Drive and Canyon Lake Drive.
Like many San Diego communities, Scripps Ranch has extensive open space set aside for neighborhood parks, nature trails, and wildlife preservation. Hoyt Park, an open space park managed by the City of San Diego Parks and Recreation Department, plays a major role in Scripps Ranch Fourth of July festivities, which include a parade and races for runners and cyclists. The park also hosts the Scripps Ranch Symphony in the Park summer concerts, which attract families on blankets and folding chairs.
The Hoyt Park Trail offers multiple choices. You can hike the entire mile-plus trail between Scripps Ranch Boulevard on the west and Red Cedar Drive on the east, with Hoyt Park in the middle. Or you can choose the Hoyt Park West Trail, between Hoyt Park and Scripps Ranch Boulevard. A third choice is to hike the Hoyt Park East Trail, between Hoyt Park and Red Cedar Drive.
The trails have diverse segments, such as an east-west trail at the bottom of the canyon along concrete drainage ditches and creek beds. In other segments, trails are higher on the canyon walls. There are trails wide enough to accommodate several hikers abreast, single-file trails, and north-south trails that allow hiking out of the canyon to nearby streets.
Whatever route you take, eucalyptus trees on the floor and sides of the canyon surround and tower above you. They provide a privacy screen between hikers and canyon-top homeowners. They also block the sun, giving the hike a twilight atmosphere regardless of the time of day and making it cooler in hot summer months. Eucalyptus are non-native trees from Australia introduced in California in the 1850s. Some people value them for their shade and contribution to wildlife habitat. Others argue that they inhibit the growth of other plant species, are vulnerable to losing limbs or falling in storms, and can worsen wildfires that threaten suburbs.
Differences of opinion notwithstanding, eucalyptus trees and their thick ground covering of bark, twigs, leaves, and other mulch can be found throughout Scripps Ranch. Signs greeting visitors to the community feature a likeness of the eucalyptus tree, which is also represented in the logo of the Scripps Ranch Civic Association (SRCA).
Other non-native plants along the Hoyt Park Trail include many palm tree species, pepper trees, and iceplant. But the trail also offers a rich variety of California native plants. They include coast live oak, scrub oak, pine, sycamore, and willow trees, along with mule fat, lemonadeberry, toyon, broom baccharis, prickly pear cactus, agave, and sage.
The neighborhoods around Hoyt Park provide real-life examples of the backyard nature display in the Coast to Cactus exhibit at the San Diego Natural History Museum. When nighttime comes to yards, alleys, and streets, so do coyotes, raccoons, opossums, skunks, rabbits, and other small mammals. The canyon encompassing Hoyt Park helps nurture some of this wildlife along with numerous bird species, such as crows, hawks, ravens, mourning doves, California gnatcatchers, owls, hummingbirds, sparrows, and woodpeckers. Lizards, butterflies, and many other insects can also be found, depending on the season.
HOYT PARK TRAIL
Explore a popular hiking trail in Scripps Ranch
- Driving directions: (Scripps Ranch) From I-15, exit onto Carroll Canyon Road. Go east for about 0.5 mile. At the second stoplight, turn right on Scripps Ranch Boulevard to go up the hill. Continue east up the hill on Scripps Ranch Boulevard for 0.5 mile. Turn left onto Aviary Drive at the four-way stop signs. Go down the hill for a short distance and turn left at Canyon Lake Road. Hoyt Park is on your left. Street parking is available except during special events. You can pick up the Hoyt Park West Trail near picnic tables in the southwest corner of the park and the Hoyt Park East Trail by crossing Aviary Drive to the other side of the street. Hiking length: Hoyt Park West Trail 0.6 mile, Hoyt Park East Trail 0.6 mile, for a total of 1.2 miles. Difficulty: Easy, with an elevation gain/loss of less than 400 feet. There are no facilities.