UPDATE - 29 May 2003: This is now a virtual cache. I've placed and replaced the cache three times now, but obviously somebody has seen fit to wreck the fun for others, and done so several times. It's still a cool little hiding space (see hint), but there is nothing in it now EXCEPT for -- well, you can tell us what you find in there, trivial though it may be. I am still pleased at the number of people who've discovered the Ranch House and its history and environs. Happy hunting!
BACKGROUND. Why “Ranch House” cache? Because when you find it, you’re within a few walking minutes of the historical Adobe Ranch House, a Los Penasquitos Canyon landmark built in the early 1800s that was a bonafide working ranch until the 1960s. The area is a natural preserve right smack in the middle of civilization. There are rabbits and ground squirrels galore, and – though I haven’t seen any – signs advertising possible skunks and snakes. I did see three deer in the canyon last summer… but that’s another story.
The cache is just off a trail that leads to the Ranch House.
GETTING STARTED. The best way to the cache is to enter the preserve by turning into Canyonside Park Driveway from Black Mountain Road. Park at the west end of the baseball field. Start your trail walk where you see the Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve sign by the swinging gate protecting the trail. Nearly all of your short walk will be on trails and you should have little trouble finding the cache.
THE LOCATION. This cache is very kid-friendly, no bushwhacking required, and flat terrain all the way. The bonus, as usual, is the location, where you can hike, bike, or ride horses to your heart’s content. There’s a creek nearby, and three miles down a trail from the cache is the famous waterfall, a popular respite for scads of hikers and bikers. If all you do is visit the Ranch House, you won’t be sorry you stopped by for a rest or a picnic. They offer free guided tours Saturdays at 11 AM and Sundays at 1 PM. Also, stop at the Ranch's gift shop for a souvenir or two. The rangers are friendly and helpful, and they'll answer any questions on the history of the Ranch, its archaeological digs, and its role in San Diego's history.