Panhe Nature Trail connects the San Mateo Campground to Trestles Beach on the Northeastern border of San Onofre State Beach. Here you may witness firsthand what ‘Old California ‘ used to be.
Would you like to join me for a tour?
Discovering The Panhe Nature Trail
Panhe was one of the largest villages of the Acjachemen (Ah-HAWSH-eh-men) native people who are the original inhabitants of Southern California (12,000BC-1542 AD).
In fact, in 1769, the first close contact between the Acjachemen, Spanish explorers, and the Catholic Missionaries took place at this spot. As well as the site for the very first baptism in California! The site is marked by a cross, which still stands to this day.
How To Get There
First off, there are two possible starting locations for the Panhe Nature Trail: the San Mateo Campground or the Trestles parking lot next to Carl’s Jr.
It is important to mention that there is a fee to park in both places.
The parking lot near Carl’s Jr you may pay per hour, while the parking lot at the campground costs 15 dollars all day. I suggest looking for parking off the street but seeing that Trestles Beach is so popular with the surfers, parking is limited.
Today, we decided to start from the Trestles Beach parking lot. Once parked, start walking south and cross the street to see a fence and follow the path east.
Panhe Nature Trail Photo Tour
Looking over to the right, you can make out where the Trestles Parking lot is located; again, this starting point is just across the street.
While this is an impressive tree, it wreaks havoc on the native species. For example, the Eucalyptus Tree secretes a sticky gum, which in turn inhibits any growth from other species under and around the tree.
Here is a great example of the truly unique plant ecosystem of Southern California- Coastal Sage Scrub.
Found only in coastal California and Northwestern Baja California, low-growing, drought-resistant deciduous shrubs characterize the community. Did I mention that it smells delightful as well?
The Acjachmen would use the California Buckwheat plant to treat headaches, upset stomachs, diarrhea, and clean wounds.
Did you know that the California Broom plant is in the pea family?
This plant species is critical to the California Sage Scrub community due to the symbiotic relationship of a certain nitrogen-rich bacteria that lives on its roots. You see, after a fire, this plant helps the community by adding rich nitrogen levels to the soil, which in turn benefits the entire environment.
Rich Native History on the Panhe Nature Trail
This area has been dug up through the years, and many Acjachmen artifacts and remains have been found. Down below is a sacred reburial site that is fenced in to discourage unwanted visitors.
Mule Fat got its name because, in the early days, this was the bush that you would tie your mule to when resting. I bet you can guess what happened to the mules after being tied for a while.
The denseness of the environment makes it a safe area for birds to nest.
Birds and butterflies especially appreciate the sweet stickiness of the Coyote Brush.
The Elderberry Tree’s berries are high in nutritional value and are rich in antioxidants. Native’s would use this plant to help with inflammation and gout and help with constipation.
San Mateo Campground
As we come to the end of our hike today at the San Mateo Campground, I would like to remind you that the original Panhe Village is about 2 more miles east of this location.
If you would like more information, please see the link provided down below.
Walking up the stairs, we come upon the San Mateo Campground Amphitheater, which is also the home to the Panhe Nature Trail kiosk. Here you can learn some valuable information to take with you on the trail.
For instance, here we have information about surf fishing which is popular in this area.
This display shows how all of the California Missions connect via one inland route, El Camino Real- The Royal Road.
Here is a little video that I took at the beginning of the Panhe Nature Trail, right after the San Mateo Campground Amphitheater.
End of the Trail
So there you have it!
How did you enjoy the scenery? I feel so fortunate to live here!
As I mentioned previously, the Panhe Nature Trail meets up with Trestles Beach Trail right across the street from the Trestles parking lot and will lead you straight to the beach.
Please check back soon, as I will be showcasing this part of the trail as well. Here is a sneak peek of the ocean view!
Thanks again, and please feel free to leave any comments or questions you may have below, as I love to answer questions!
Until next time!
I have always had a deep-seated passion for the Ocean Environment which ultimately led me to receive a degree in Marine Biology. Living in the San Diego area for over 30 years, I have extensively explored the 70 miles of San Diego’s coastline, and I am here to share! Please use my website to your advantage and have a look around at all the wonders that the beaches of San Diego can offer you!