Lake Ramona is an artificial reservoir located in Ramona, California. The lake is accessed via the City of Poway in San Diego County. The trail is great for wildlife viewing, wildflowers, fishing and offers views the hills surrounding Lake Ramona and Lake Poway.

Lake Ramona Trail Hiking Guide

Up above the higher elvations of the City of Poway is a small range of coastal hills. These coastal hills separate the high valley plateau and mountain foothills from the coastal valleys. Nesteled in this hills are a variety of hiking options and a couple of artificial reservoirs. One of these reservoirs forms the very small, Lake Ramona.

The only way to access Lake Ramona is via trail just under three miles long. The distance carries with it about 1,300 feet of elevation gain. There are two ways to get to the lake. One way is via the Lake Poway to Lake Ramona trail that begins in the same parking lot as the popular, Potato Chip Rock hike. For the purpose of this article, this guide focuses on the route via Lake Poway although there is a significant amount of overlap between the two.

Another option is to hike up via the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve which is also located in Poway. This option is a little shorter and a littler flatter at the bottom but still carries it around the same elevation gain. Blue Sky Ecological Reserve is a 700 acre preserve that encompasses most of Warren Canyon leading up to Lake Ramona.

On A Personal Note:

The trail leading up to Lake Ramona offers two lakeside views close to the heart of San Diego. As the trail leads down from Lake Poway it eventually intersects with a portion of Blue Sky Ecological Reserve. This reserve is primarily down in Warren Canyon and features an arroyo with lush vegetation, shade providing trees, and a seasonal creek.

For those with an appetite for fishing, Lake Ramona is an option. The hike leading up to the reservoir leaves this lake less accessed than other places. All that is required is a valid  California Fishing License. Please keep in mind to leave as minimal of an impact as possible when visiting the outdoors and to practice Leave No Trace Principles.

Looking for another hike close to San Diego with lakeside views? Try the Lake Miramar trail in Scripps Ranch around a large city reservoir.

On An Important Note: 

Warren Canyon has a seasonal creek that is a water source for larger wildlife. This is including mountain lions. Please be alert of your surroundings and aware of your children if they’re hiking with you. In June of 2020 a small child was attacked by a mountain lion in the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve.

Do you have any updates to the hiking trail or want to share your hike/pictures? Please leave a comment below.

  • Overall Difficulty: 50% 50%
  • Overall Views: 80% 80%
Lake Ramona Trail Quick Facts:
  • Max Elevation: 1,404 feet.
  • Elevation Gain: 1,348 feet.
  • Estimated Distance: 5.8 miles.
  • My Distance: 5.7 miles. 
  • Estimated Time: 2-4 hours.
  • My Time: 2 hours 15 minutes moving; 2 hours 33 minutes total.  
Lake Ramona Trail Directions:
There are a couple of trail directions for hiking Lake Ramona. This trail guide focuses on the Lake Poway access. Another option is via Blue Sky Ecological Reserve.

Lake Ramona via Lake Poway.

Open in maps. Access to the trail is very simple. There is a large parking lot at the bottom Lake Poway. The parking lot is gated and opens at dawn and closes at dusk. For those who can’t show proof of Poway residency, there is a $10 parking fee. The fee is only applicable on weekends on holidays. All other days are free. The park is closed on Christmas and Thanksgiving. If the parking lot is full, there is an overflow parking lot at the bottom of the street. For more information you can check the city’s website. Lake Poway is also open Wednesday-Sunday for boating and fishing.

Lake Ramona via Blue Sky Ecological Reserve

Open in maps. This trail entrance is located a few miles away from Lake Poway and near the bottom of Warren Canyon. The reserve is open sunrise to sunset daily. The parking lot hours from November-May are from sunrise to sunset. For all other months the lot is open from 6:30-sunset. There is no fee for parking. 

Lake Ramona Trial Pictures:
Who Lake Ramona Trail Is For:
Novice Hikers: This is a great trail for those who are newer to hiking yet want to push their limits a little more. There is over one thousand feet of elevation gain in about one mile. Those who are completely novice may have difficulty with the elevation gain in a short distance. 

Advanced Hikers: The distance is on the shorter side but it’s a great trail to see some lakeside views and wander alongside a lush arroyo. 

Expert Hikers: By no means is this a difficult trail but it is a nice with the feeling of being immersed in nature. It’s a good trail for being so close to civilization. 

It’s always a good idea to be aware of what type of hiking level you’re at.

Best Time Of Year To Hike Lake Ramona:
Like many coastal valley trails, the best time of year to hike Lake Ramona is during the winter and throughout the spring. The cooler temperatures during winter will make this trail refreshing. Winter and spring rains will bring life to the canyon. Wildflowers are commonly seen and water can be flowing through the creek into late spring. 

Summer can be very hot and make this trail even more difficult. If you’re in good physical condition, this trail is short enough that it could be completed in the cooler hours of the morning before it gets hot. On some days during the summer the City of Poway will close the recreation area due to excessive heat. The color won’t be as lively during the fall but the temperatures will be more comfortable. 

It’s always a good idea to check the weather before heading out on a hike.

Lake Ramona Trail Conditions:

This trail is in great condition. One portion of the trial is near lake poway is managed by the City of Poway which manages the area near lake Poway. About a third of the way into the hike the trail becomes managed by the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve. There is a paved portion of trail for about half a mile near Lake Ramona at the very top. This part of the hike is on property managed by the Ramona Municipal Water District.  

The hike starts near lake Poway on a dirt utility road. The road gives way to a narrower trail that leads down a small canyon that joins Warren Canyon. Leading down the base of Lake Poway will reveal a small riparian area with a small and very seasonal creek lush with oak trees and a small picnic area. Shortly after this picnic area the trail crosses over onto the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve property. 

It’s not long before the trail once again intersects with the Green Valley Truck trial. This is a dirt utility road that runs through Warren Canyon and makes up the trest of the trail to lake Ramona. Warren Canyon is a lush riparian area fed by a seasonal creek. Because this is a water source, wildlife viewing of larger wildlife such as coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions can be seen here. 

There is a fork in the trail with a sign indicating Lake Ramona. Follow the utility road up to the top to the lake. The last portion of the trail is paved right before reaching the lake. Rattlesnakes are common here. Poison oak is all along the heart of Warren Canyon near the creek and also coming down through the arroyo from Lake Poway. The trail is wide enough to avoid any poison oak exposure but it’s something to be aware of.