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The San Dieguito River Park
18372 Sycamore Creek Rd.
Escondido, CA 92025
Phone: (858) 674-2270
Fax: (858) 674-2280



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The River Park has converted from a print-based distribution system to a web-based system. If you are interested in receiving e-mail notices when the quarterly activity schedule is posted to the website, and news of special events occurring in the Park, click above to send us an e-mail.

Volcan Mountain

Volcan Mountain is located at the eastern end of the San Dieguito River Park. It is the location of fern-filled Ironside Spring, the headwaters of the San Dieguito River. As recently as the 1990's it was primarily under one private ownership known as Rutherford Ranch. The ranch rolled across the crest of the Volcan Mountains and reached into the desert at San Felipe Valley, it linking the San Dieguito River Park on the west with the Anza Borrego State Park on the east, thus providing a natural corridor from the desert to the ocean.

Thousands of years ago, Native Americans crossed the Volcan Mountains on their journeys between the desert and the sea. Settlers from the east built their homesteads on ranch territory. Tax records indicate the earliest known cabins were built in the mid-1860s. Although the ranch supported vineyards, orchards and agricultural crops, it was primarily used for grazing cattle and sheep. Human activity has been limited, leaving the ranch relatively undisturbed.

Six sensitive habitats, 22 sensitive plant species and 39 sensitive or locally rare animal species occur within the Volcan Mountain area. Mountain lions, bobcats, mule deer, coyotes and grey foxes are common in this wild country. Bald eagles and golden eagles breed on the mountain.

View from Volcan Mountain

In the mid-1990s, the owner entered into an agreement with The Trust for Public Land, a non-profit land conservancy. The Trust for Public Land took over the bank note owed by the property owner, and received an option on a large piece of the property. The Trust for Public Land worked with the San Dieguito River Park, the County of San Diego, the California Department of Fish & Game, and the private 501(c)(3) organizations, the Volcan Mountain Preserve Foundation and the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy, to assist those agencies in finding the funding to gradually acquire the property. In the last decade, approximately 9,000 acres of the former Rutherford Ranch on Volcan Mountain have been brought into public ownership. In 2007 The Nature Conservancy began negotiations to acquire most of the remaining 1,800 acres. The purchase agreement, signed by all parties in 2008, provides for a three phase acquisition. The first phase of 275 acres will be completed before the end of 2008.

The County of San Diego and the Volcan Mountain Preserve Foundation lead organized tours to the summit of Volcan Mountain. Check the Volcan Mountain Preserve Foundation's website for more information.


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