Volcan Mountain Foundation

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San Diego County, California

Trails, Maps and VMF's Volcan Mountain Nature Center

VMF's Volcan Mountain Nature Center
The Volcan Mountain Foundation (VMF) owns and manages nearly 400 acres on Volcan Mountain, adjacent to preserves managed by San Diego County Parks & Rec, and the San Dieguito River Park (Coast to Crest Trail).  VMF's Volcan Mountain Nature Center, near the headwaters of Santa Ysabel Creek, is the focal point of VMF's Education-Outreach and Resource Management activities.  When visiting the nature center, the focus is on getting outside and discovering and exploring the unique natural resources that the Volcan Mountain range provides to the region of San Diego County and its residents and visitors.

Facilities include the Sky Island Trail and Viewpoint, the Watershed Trail, and the Outdoor Classroom in the lower grove.  In 2013-2014 a Native Plant Nursery was developed with generous funding from a San Diego Gas & Electric Environmental Champions grant.  The main building at the Nature Center serves as an orientation point, indoor classroom and interpretive facility for local natural and cultural history.  Significant infrastructure upgrades for the building were made possible by generous funding through an Environment Grant from The San Diego Foundation

Planning a Visit to VMF's Volcan Mountain Nature Center
Volcan Mountain Foundation staff and volunteers play an important role as ambassadors to discovering Volcan Mountain.  Check out VMF's Events Calendar for regularly scheduled discovery hikes, informative presentations and volunteer trainings at the Nature Center and County preserves on and around Volcan Mountain.  Teachers, youth leaders, and groups of all ages interested in discovering Volcan Mountain are encouraged to check out VMF's Outdoor Education page and contact VMF's Engagement Coordinator at the VMF office to schedule a customized visit (760-765-2300 or info@volcanmt.org; susan@volcanmt.org).  At this time there is no general public access to VMF owned and managed property.

Getting to VMF's Volcan Mountain Nature Center-22850 Volcan Road, Julian, CA 92036
The Nature Center is located in the San Diego County backcountry's historic gold-mining and apple-farming town of Julian, CA--approximately an hour to hour and half drive from most parts of San Diego County.  Once in the Julian area there are two main ways to approach the Nature Center for visitors from coastal and inland communities and one more for visitors from desert communities.  It is recommended to allow at least an hour and a half driving time, more during busy weekends and holidays.

Via RamonaSanta Ysabel (from all coastal and north inland communities)
From the intersection of Highways 78 &79 in Santa Ysabel, head east (SE) on Highway 78 approximately 3 miles to the junction with Wynola Road.  Turn left onto Wynola Road and continue another 3 miles just past Julian Orchards Drive to the 'scissor-intersection' of Wynola and Farmer Roads.  IMPORTANT:  This 'scissor-intersection' can be tricky if you're not following the directions.  Do NOT turn right onto Farmer Road across from Julian Orchards Drive.  Just after you pass Julian Orchards Drive, turn left onto Farmer Road, and then follow directions below from Wynola and Farmer Roads.

Via Julian (from south coastal and south/central inland communities)
From the 4-way stop sign intersection of Washington and Main Streets in Julian, head north on Main Street.  Main Street becomes Farmer Road as you head past the fire station.  Continue north on Farmer Road approximately two miles to the 'scissor-intersection' of Wynola and Farmer Roads.  Briefly turn right onto Wynola Road, then quickly turn left onto the continuation of Farmer Road, then follow directions below from Wynola and Farmer Roads.

Via Banner/Banner Grade (from desert communities)
From Banner, head west (NW) on Highway 78 up Banner Grade for approximately 5 miles to the intersection with Wynola Road.  Turn right onto Wynola Road and continue another .8 mile to the 'scissor-intersection' of Wynola and Farmer Roads.  Turn right onto Farmer Road, then follow directions below from Wynola and Farmer Roads.

Continuing from the 'scissor-intersection' of Wynola and Farmer Roads
Head north on Farmer Road approximately 2 miles to meet a VMF ambassador at the gated entry to Volcan Road and the parking area just beyond the gate.  This is the main entrance to VMF's Volcan Mountain Nature Center (22850 Volcan Road, Julian, CA 92036), but also a shared access for other Volcan Mountain property owners.  You will pass the trailhead for the Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve, Camp Cedar Glen and the Farmer Road staging area for Santa Ysabel Preserve East.  

San Diego County Department of Parks and Recreation

San Diego County Parks & Recrecation manages both the Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve and the Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve, offering outdoor enthusiasts rewards on many levels.  During your hiking, biking, and riding adventures within the preserves, you’ll experience native grasslands, cedar groves, oak woodlands, flowing streams, and fields of wildflowers.

Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve

The Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve, encompassing nearly 3,000 acres, is located on Farmer Road 2 miles north of Julian.  The 5-mile round-trip Volcan Summit Trail climbs to an elevation of 5,300 feet, offering spectacular 360 degree views from the desert to the coast.  To begin the journey, visitors pass through an inspiring gateway designed by renowned artist, James Hubbell.  The Five Oaks Trail offers a scenic alternate route branching off the main trail 1/2 mile from the Gateway.

Santa Ysabel Preserves

More than 21 miles of multi-use trails are offered within the combined 5,400 acres of the Santa Ysabel Preserve East and West.  Santa Ysabel Preserve East is accessible from Farmer Road, 3 miles north of Julian, and from Highway 79 about 2 miles north of Santa Ysabel.  Santa Ysabel Preserve West is located approximately 2 miles west of Santa Ysabel.

Santa Ysabel Nature Center

In 2019, the San Diego County Department of Parks and Recreation opened the Santa Ysabel Nature Center as part of the 6,437-acre Santa Ysabe Preserves. The center is located at: 22135 Highway 79, Santa Ysabel, CA 92070. The 6,000 square foot facility on 84-acres donated in 2010 by The Nature Conservancy, features an information desk, restrooms, a water refiling station and access to Wi-Fi. Visitors can learn and discover in an exciting exhibit space with hands-on and interactive touch-screen education displays with information about local history, habitat and wildlife. Outside, explore nature play attractions and 2 1/2 miles of trails, and enjoy programs in the amphitheater under the Engelmann oaks.

San Dieguito River Park and the Coast-to-Crest Trail

The Volcan Mountain and Santa Ysabel trails include sections of the developing Coast-to-Crest Trail.  As part of the San Dieguito River Park (SDRP) these trails will eventually connect with others to form SDRP’s 55-mile long Coast-to-Crest Trail, connecting the headwaters of the San Dieguito River at Ironside Spring on Volcan Mountain to the Pacific Ocean at Del Mar. 

Please check for current preserve hours, detailed directions, trail maps and information on the San Diego County Department of Parks and Recreation website: www.sdparks.org.