Panhe Nature Trail connects the San Mateo Campground to Trestles Beach on the Northeastern San Onofre State Beach border. 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 were the original inhabitants of Southern California (12,000BC-1542 AD).
In 1769, the first close contact between the Acjachemen, Spanish explorers, and the Catholic Missionaries occurred 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 today.
How To Get There
First, 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 essential to mention that there is a fee to park in both places.
You may pay per hour in the parking lot near Carl’s Jr, while the campground parking lot 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, cross the street to see a fence, and follow the path east.
Panhe Nature Trail Photo Tour
Looking to the right, you can determine 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, inhibiting growth from other species under and around the tree.
An excellent example of Southern California’s genuinely unique plant ecosystem is 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.
After a fire, this plant helps the community by adding rich nitrogen to the soil, benefiting 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 fenced in to discourage unwanted visitors.
Mule Fat got its name because, in the early days, this was the bush you would tie your mule to when resting. I bet you can guess what happened to the mules after being fastened 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. Natives would use this plant to help with inflammation and gout and help with constipation.
San Mateo Campground
As we end our hike today at the San Mateo Campground, I want to remind you that the original Panhe Village is about two more miles east of this location.
If you would like more information, please see the link below.
Walking up the stairs, we come upon the San Mateo Campground Amphitheater, 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.
This display shows how all California Missions connect via one inland route, El Camino Real- The Royal Road.
I took a little video 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, 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 also be showcasing this part of the trail. 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!