Nature Reserves
Nature Reserves preserve the natural flora, fauna, and physical features of the land.
In addition to having nearly 1,500 acres of open space within our community, Cielo at Rancho Santa Fe is fortunate to be surrounded by thousands of acres of land that is being preserved by governmental agencies and non-profit conservancies.
Here is more information about these organizations.

San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy

The San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy (SDRVC) is a non-profit organization focused on preserving and protecting natural resources in the San Dieguito River Valley. They acquire land, create trails, restore habitats, and provide educational programs.
SDRVC recently acquired 117 acres adjacent to Upper Cielo, which will preserve this open space and native habitat.
(Click here to read the Rancho Santa Fe Review's article about this acquisition.)
Since 1986, the Conservancy has worked to develop and complete the planned 70-mile Coast to Crest Trail. When complete, the Coast to Crest Trail will be a multi-use trail connecting the ocean at Del Mar to Volcan Mountain north of Julian. It will allow the public to explore the entire length of the San Dieguito River Watershed and all its diverse, natural beauty. Interpretive panels and signage will provide educational opportunities along the trail.
To learn more about the San Dieguito River Conservancy and their projects, visit
Graphics courtesy of

Escondido Creek Conservancy

The Escondido Creek Conservancy is a non-profit organization focused, since 1991, on preserving the health and vitality of the land, resources, and wildlife within the Escondido Creek Watershed. This watershed encompasses 75+ square miles and extends from above Lake Wohlford, through the City of Escondido, Harmony Grove, Elfin Forest and Olivenhain, Rancho Santa Fe, and into the San Elijo lagoon in Solana Beach and Encinitas.
One of the largest preserves within the Conservancy is the Keithley Preserve in Rancho Santa Fe, which encompasses 905 acres adjacent to the northern edge of Cielo. Approximately 788 acres were Cielo parcels acquired from 2012 to 2018, preserving this open space in perpetuity.
To learn more about the Escondido Creek Conservancy, visit
Map courtesy of Escondido Creek Conservancy.

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve

The Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve (EFRR) is located at 8833 Harmony Grove Road, Escondido, CA 92029.
This 784-acre open space park and recreational area offers approximately 11 miles of hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails, as well as picnic areas and scenic mountain viewing points.
This Reserve was established by the Olivenhain Municipal Water District (OMWD) in partnership with the San Diego County Water Authority (Authority) and the U.S. Department of the Interior-Bureau of Land Management in order to preserve wildlife and natural resources for future generations.
Since 2008, the Escondido Creek Conservancy has partnered with OMWD to create an educational center, educational programming, and environmental management of the Reserve.
For additional information about the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve, including trail maps, botanical guides, and more: click here
Trail map courtesy of

Del Dios Highlands Preserve

Del Dios Highlands County Preserve is a large parkland, northeast of Cielo, located at 9860 Del Dios Highway.
This preserve is an inviting 774 acres of open space with plenty of opportunity to see and experience nature. There is a 1.5-mile trail for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding, and a QR Fit exercise trail.
It was acquired and is being preserved for future generations by the County of San Diego in partnership with the Escondido Creek Conservancy and the San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority.
To learn more, visit
Photo courtesy of
Map courtesy of

Lake Hodges Recreational Area

Lake Hodges was created with the building of Hodges Dam on San Dieguito Creek in 1918. The City of San Diego purchased the dam and reservoir in 1925.
The lake is a recreational area that is open a few days a week from February through October for water activities (such as boats, canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards), picnicking, and fishing.
Lake Hodges trail is a 16.5 mile trek along the northern edge of the lake and is available year-round for hiking, walking, running, and mountain biking. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

The Lake Hodges area is home to a great diversity of animal and plant life and is part of the County of San Diego’s Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) to preserve these natural wonders for generations to come.
To learn more about the Lake's recreational activities, visit
Photo courtesy of
Trail map courtesy of
Cielo is perched on hilltops nestled in-between two major watershed pathways (Escondido Creek and San Dieguito River) that are both being protected as designated open space. This has created an amazingly unique residential community with unparalleled viewpoint opportunities as well as easy access to outdoor recreational activities in these natural environments.