Parks and Rec

Featured Park: Oakoasis County Preserve

Address: 12620 Wildcat Canyon Road, Lakeside, CA 92040
Phone: 619-561-0580
Hours: 8 a.m. to sunset
Total distance: 3-mile loop trail
Hike time: About an hour and a half
Difficulty level: Easy to moderate
Facilities: staging/parking area, portable bathrooms

Oakoasis County Preserve in Lakeside is a small preserve with big rewards. The San Diego County preserve offers views for miles and is home to a lush grove of oaks. It is a welcome oasis for families who want to enjoy a manageable hike and plenty of activities.

Before hitting the trail at Oakoasis, Supervising Park Ranger Kyle Icke takes you off the beaten path with this Q&A on the 400-acre preserve.

Q: What is Oakoasis best known for?

Oakoasis County Preserve includes nearly 400 acres of chaparral, manzanita, and woodlands. It’s ideal for hikers, horses and leashed dogs with a roughly 3-mile loop trail. Explore the woods, hills and enjoy views of the mountains on our well-marked trails. West-facing views include San Vicente Reservoir, sweeping views of the valley, and on a clear day, the ocean. Look east to see the entrance to El Capitan County Preserve.

Q: Are there oaks at Oakoasis?

Yes, the meadows are lined with coastal live oaks and the trail meanders through the preserve’s namesake, an oak oasis featuring a cluster of oaks above the water table.


Q: Can you camp at Oakoasis?

During the warmer months of March through October, we offer family camping on the second Saturday of the month, which just so happens to coincide with the monthly Star Party. Even after family camping is done for the year, the Star Party continues year-round in the parking lot. Also, on select weekends, an overnight campsite is available to groups and includes a covered pavilion with tent campsites, stunning views, and an optional cabin available for an additional charge. Reservations can be made by calling 858-565-3600.

Q: What’s cool or unusual about this location?

The large amount of rainfall during the winter has led to massive vegetation growth and an increase in animal activity in an area that was once scorched by the Cedar Fire. The beautiful, deep blue Lakeside lilac grows here in spring. Plus, after passing through the oak grove on your hike, you will come upon the remains of an old cabin and some rusted farming equipment, left behind by early settlers. This trail connects to the Trans-County Trail, a multi-agency work in progress that will one day connect the Salton Sea to Torrey Pines.

Q: How does Oakoasis compare to its big brother “El Cap” across the street?

Oakoasis is a favorite for families and evening stargazers. It’s a relatively easy, manageable hike – the opposite of El Capitan County Preserve which boasts an intense and very difficult 12-mile trail that attracts our region’s most seasoned hikers.

Q: What animals and plants live at Oakoasis?

Oakoasis County Preserve has many different plants and animals that live in the three habitats present in the park: oak woodland, riparian and chaparral. In the oak woodland you will find lots of coast live oak trees and annuals that like to live in the understory. Willow dominates the riparian habitat and draws many species of birds. Some birds from as far away as South America come to nest here. The chaparral plant community has many species of ceanothus including the Ramona lilac and scrub oak. Because there are three habitats, there are many areas of overlap and “edge zones.” A species that specializes in these edge zones is the Cooper’s hawk, which is a songbird predator.

Oakoasis 4

Q: What challenges are you currently facing?

The large amount of rainfall this past winter led to vegetation overgrowth and trail erosion. We are in the process of cutting back invasive species and reinforcing our trails for better hiking experiences

Q: What are some of the upcoming events and activities taking place at your park?

Every second Saturday of the month, we have a Star Party in the preserve’s parking lot. The San Diego Astronomy Association joins us for a twilight hike, a spectacular view of the stars in the big open sky and s’mores. In September and October, we will have our last Family Campouts of the year. It’s just $24 a campsite, and the preserve is ideal for those that are new to camping. In October, join us for our hair-raising Haunted Trail Hikes. Plus, every Sunday, join rangers at 10 a.m. for a guided hike known as the “Oakoasis Sunday Stroll.” RSVP by calling 619-561-0580.

Michelle Mowad is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact