Boden Canyon Ecological Reserve

visitors at Boden Canyon

small black snake with light lateral stripes
California striped racer
(Coluber lateralis lateralis)
CDFW photo by Tim Hovey


Boden Canyon Ecological Reserve is an approximately 1,200-acre property. Vegetation communities in the canyon include southern mixed chaparral, coastal sage scrub, coast live oak woodland, Engelmann oak woodland, southern coast live oak riparian forest, and south coast willow riparian forest.

The canyon also supports a variety of common upland game birds and migratory birds as well as mule deer and turkey. Among the sensitive species occurring in the reserve are Engelmann oak, San Diego horned lizard, Arroyo toad, Coastal western whiptail, Two-striped garter snake, Red diamond rattlesnake, Loggerhead shrike, least Bell's vireo, and golden eagle.

For more information, call the South Coast Region San Diego office at (858) 467-4201.

Recreational Opportunities

Wildlife Viewing  Hiking Trails Hunting with Shotguns Quail Hunting Turkey Hunting

Activities: wildlife viewing, hiking, and upland game bird hunting

The reserve may be accessed between sunrise and sunset. There are established trails for walking or hiking. Please respect the rights of adjacent land owners.


Fires: In October/November of 2003, three of the worst fires in California history engulfed southern California. The majority of the Crestridge Ecological Reserve, about 80% of the Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve, and a small portion of the Boden Canyon Ecological Reserve burned. The vegetation will resprout and the wildlife will return, and the ecosystems will be surprisingly rich over the next few years. However in the immediate and near future, the areas are more vulnerable in this post-fire condition so we ask that visitors to these areas pay special attention to staying on designated trails and staying out of designated closed areas to allow the natural regeneration to occur.

NOTE: Visitors are responsible for knowing and complying with all regulations pertaining to the use of Department lands.

Refer to the Public Uses on State and Federal Lands section of the Waterfowl, Upland Game, and Public Use Regulations (PDF) booklet for both statewide and property-specific regulations.

no drones icon
You may not operate a drone on CDFW Lands without a Special Use Permit.


To access Boden Canyon Ecological Reserve using the directions provided below you will pass through a U.S. Forest Service (USFS) gate that is sometimes temporarily closed during heavy rain events. Please check with the Cleveland National Forest Service Palomar Ranger District office at (760) 788-0250 for temporary road closures and other questions concerning use of USFS lands adjacent to Boden Canyon Ecological Reserve.

Driving Directions Map (PDF)

Starting from the intersection of Highway 78 and Highway 67 in the town of Ramona:

Take Highway 78 north approximately 1.7 miles to where the road curves west and turns into West Haverford Road. Turn right (east) on west Haverford Road and proceed approximately 0.8 tenths of a mile to where the road curves north and becomes Pamo Road. Follow Pamo Road north past the old Ramona dump (Dump Road approx. 1.1 miles). At this point the road narrows, becomes windy and heads downhill. Continue following Pamo Road to the bottom of the grade approximately 1.5 miles past dump road. At this point you will see a U.S. Forest Service (USFS) kiosk on the left (west) side of the road. Turn left (west) onto Orosco Truck Trail and continue past cattle guard/USFS gate. Within a few hundred feet of crossing the cattle guard the road forks. Take the right fork across the creek and continue across the cement bridge. Follow the windy dirt road (Orosco Truck Trail) uphill for approximately 2.7 miles. At this point the road forks again. Take the left fork (USFS Route 12502) and proceed approximately 0.5 miles to gate. You will need to park and continue down the road on foot. Please park so that your vehicle does not block access to the gate. As you walk down the road you will encounter another closed Forest Service gate. Proceed past this gate and enter Boden Canyon Ecological Reserve.

Area History

Natural canyon communities like Boden Canyon historically existed along the cismontane foothills of San Diego County, but most of the similar low-lying canyons have been irreparably damaged by long histories of heavy agriculture and urban fringe development. In addition, Boden Canyon occurs within one of the longest natural wildlife corridors occurring within coastal San Diego County and plays a role in maintaining a regional habitat linkage extending east to Pamo Valley and northward to Riverside County through U.S. Forest Service lands.

The multi-agency Land Management Plan (LMP) aims to preserve and further restore this nearly intact representation. Various properties have been acquired by the City for water resources development and the protection of biodiversity, and by the County to offset impacts associated with a Department of Public Works road project.

The Wildlife Conservation Board completed three phases of acquisition in 1998 and 1999. The funds used were from Proposition 117, the Habitat Conservation Fund (also known as the Mountain Lion Initiative). The property was designated as an ecological reserve by the Fish and Game Commission in 2000.


Boden Canyon is an important element of the Multiple Species Conservation Plan (MSCP), a State Natural Community Conservation Plan/Habitat Conservation Plan, which identifies the area as a core resource area and important biological linkage to adjacent areas. It is also located within the Focused Planning Area for the San Dieguito River Valley Regional Open Space Park - an assemblage of open space and park lands which will one day extend from the ocean near Del Mar to the Anza-Borrego Desert east of Volcan Mountain.

Land ownership within the canyon is a mosaic of state, county, and city parcels. Over 2,000 acres is set aside for resource conservation.

Common goals of Boden Canyon property owners include managing the lands collectively to maintain and enhance biological values while providing for a sustainable amount of public access that would not detract from the biology of the region. The interspersed ownership lends itself to a unified management program approach that is almost essential to effectively serve these interests. This collective management allows for unified monitoring, maintenance, patrol, and enforcement over an area that would otherwise be difficult for any single entity to effectively manage due to the site's relatively remote location, limited access, and large size.

Map of Boden Canyon ER - click to enlarge in new window
Click to enlarge


South Coast Region (Region 5)

San Diego County

approximately 9 miles east of Escondido

Access: The appropriate way to access Boden Canyon is from Orosco Ridge located on USFS land adjacent to Pamo Valley. See driving directions at left for proper access route. 

Topographical Map

CDFW Lands Viewer