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Rules, regulations and weather tips for offroad bikers and hikers in San Diego County.
As the population of America's eighth largest city swells and the open spaces diminish, the wilderness becomes more and more precious for residents and visitors alike.
State and local governments are determined to protect these assets, and whether biking through an inner city park or blazing the open desert, it's important to realize that strict rules and active enforcement are the only way to keep the trails open and the good times rolling.
Motor vehicle use, overnight camping, open campfires and seasonal closures are among the many aspects of modern times in the backcountry that are regulated. Advance reservations are recommended for all San Diego campgrounds, and many parks require permits for day use. Aside from all the legal rules posted prominently at all public parklands, the unwritten law of the backcountry is to take only memories and leave only footprints.
San Diego is famous for its mild year-round climate, but winter brings snow to the local mountains several times each year, and in the deserts summer temperatures can rise to 120 degrees or more. Any time you venture into the backcountry you should assume you are taking your life into your own hands. Carry drinking water, food, appropriate clothing and some means of summoning help (a cell phone is a good choice, but may not work in all areas). The best advice is to make sure someone knows where you're going and when you're supposed to be back. At the very least, leave a note with your intended time of return on the dashboard of your car.
Rattlesnakes and sidewinders are not uncommon in San Diego, though they rarely pose a problem to hikers who remain on the trail. Mountain lions, also known as cougars, tend to keep their distance from humans, but are dangerous nonetheless. On the friendlier side of the food chain, you also stand a chance of seeing deer, coyote, bighorn sheep, wild turkeys, roadrunners and other native wildlife.
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