Three definite habitats form the 200 acres of San Timoteo Nature Sanctuary (STNS), in San Timoteo Canyon between Alessandro Road on the east and San Timoteo Canyon Road on the west: riparian, grassland, and hillside chaparral. Yes, riparian, with a dense cover of willows and cottonwoods – a year-round flowing stream runs through Redlands, along the south side, below the famed Smiley Heights. For millennia, home to and “highway” for regional Native Americans, today the Sanctuary gives Redlands residents and visitors an escape from the chaos of civilization.
Through STNS, two historic trails form a four-mile loop, end to end. The Cocomaricopa Trail, named for the original trail of the Native Americans through the canyon, follows close to the edge of the creek on an abandoned Flood Control District access road, while the Carriage Trail, built by the Smiley Brothers at the turn of the last century, traces in and out of the hills below Smiley Heights ridge where the brothers had established their world-famous botanical garden, Canyon Crest. The brothers built the Carriage Trail from the ridge into the canyon as a route for visitors to take when going on picnics in and beyond San Timoteo Canyon. The brothers lined the road with eucalyptus trees and planted eucalyptus groves to provide shade for carriage horses and guests as they traversed the land.
Long after the last guest passed through there, the brothers used the Carriage Road to access the grassland in the canyon bottom where they farmed dry-land crops.
The Carriage Road – now Trail – was used regularly through the entire 20th century by hikers, bicyclists, and horseback riders – just like it is today.
Redlands Conservancy holds the conservation easement on this City-owned land, giving the Conservancy legal interest in what happens there. Since the Conservancy obtained the easement in 2011, we have restored both trails for safe use, established way-finding signs, created the Bobcat Bowl Amphitheater as an Eagle Scout project to provide a pleasant gathering place for outdoor education programs, worked with County Flood Control District to maintain the riparian habitat, and worked with Inland Empire Resource Conservation District to reduce invasive vegetation and replant native vegetation.
Many more projects await time and money: interpretive signage, trail-side benches, regular trail-care activities, more invasive vegetation removal programs, and construction of a safe, attractive parking area on the east end.
San Timoteo Nature Sanctuary is open every day, dawn to dusk, to hikers, bicyclists and equestrians. When you enter, please sign in at the wooden box; when you enter, you will disappear into a wild place to refresh your soul. Don’t disturb the wildlife.
To get even more out of your time in the Sanctuary, learn more about the Canyon’s history. Click here to read “San Timoteo Canyon: The Dust Never Settles”. It tells the stories of some of the notable events in the history of San Timoteo Canyon.
Click here for a map of trails and driving tours in Redlands, including the Sanctuary. If you’d like a guided tour of the Sanctuary, please call us at (909) 782-6208 – we’d love to show you around!