|Minimum Stay||2 nights|
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The Retreat is a short 55 minute, traffic free drive from downtown San Diego. This Private Vacation Retreat with it’s main Cabin and private “Doll Houses” is located on the historic Pacific Crest Hiking Trail, across the street from Lake Morena Park and adjacent to the Cleveland National Forrest that boasts boating, bicycle trails, hiking trails and off highway vehicle areas.
The property and grounds is named “San Diego's Lake Morena Vacation and Entrepreneur Retreat” because the property a great place to take a retreat to “get away from it all” and “Old Towne” because the property design and layout is inspired by an old western town “main street” and small mining villages and "Entrepreneur Retreat" because property is frequented by business owners, inventors, investors, university groups, business coaches, musicians, professional athletes, etc.
The property is comprised of multiple lots on two of the larger parcels nearby the lake frontage so it has an “estate” sort of feel but also direct access to lake, hiking and biking trails and the Pacific Crest Trail that runs from Mexico to Canada which travels directly in front of the property. The property sits across from the county park and campground facilities so there is plenty of activity to watch from the front or quiet, private seclusion in the back.
The Cabin was originally built as a family summer vacation spot and the second owners custom built three “doll houses” that housed an award winning, million dollar, private doll collection that many locals in the area still talk about. Some memorabilia from the doll collection remain but the “doll houses” have been repurposed to antique displays, play areas, art studio, a media room. The “church” is a place where mediations or private ceremonies can be conducted.
The recently updated cabin has a kitchen, living room, breakfast area, main bedroom with queen bed, bathroom downstairs and an upstairs loft that sleeps two adults or more kids. The cabin was built by the owner of a local lumber company and constructed with custom "ship lap" lumber whose craftsmanship is like a work of art and enjoyable to sit and look at. There is a small TV and DVD player upstairs but no other TV in the Cabin to distract from the natural beauty. Cabin does have wired / wireless high speed ATT internet available (and included) and ATT mobile phones are really the only wireless carrier that works well in the area (and works well w/ full bars 4G). So you can make calls via Skype, etc and there is a “hard line” phone in the cabin you can use to make and receive calls. See more about the property and area services (fire, sheriff, medical, communications, etc.) at end of property description at “Property, Travel, Communications, Security and General Information” section.
The Three “doll houses”…
Custom crafted structures built for practicality and fun. They range in size from the smallest, “Lucy’s Toy Shop” (which has toys and games for guests to use), to the “Mountain Empire General Store” which has food, drinks and has a media center. “The Church” is built on a raised foundation and large enough to accommodate small group events or other activities.
There is a Carriage House (Utility Building) at the rear of the property that contains a vehicle storage, work shop and attic. The storage attic and attached balcony deck is not available for guest use and the shop is used by facility maintenance and owner storage so access is not normally included.
Who Is The Property A Correct Fit For?
1. Individual or Couple that wants some alone time, away from the city, to get a new perspective, do some reading or do some adventuring.
2. Entrepreneur, writer or artist desiring the creative space for ideas to flow.
3. Family with kids looking for a place to get away from ‘mainstream’ vacation spots so focus can be on family, relationships and outdoor activities.
4. Outdoor enthusiasts; bicyclists, trail hikers, fishermen, ATV enthusiasts and even Pacific Crest Trail Hikers that would rather sit on front porch and watch hikers going to and from Canada and Mexico.
5. A out of state or international visitor (or even local San Diegan) that wants a staging spot to explore the east county, learn about its history, weather, geographical beauty and people.
The property is great for a family get together where the parents want to sleep comfortably in the cabin and the kids sleep and play outdoors, in one of the “doll houses” or at the campground across the street.
Also perfect for the family or group of friends sending off or welcoming back a hiker from the Pacific Crest Trail. You can meet them as they walk by, hold up signs of encouragement or just surprise them with a warm bed and roof over their head for their journey that is just starting off or about to finish. If hikers are finishing the trail they can drop their excess gear and you can pick them up at the Mexican Border the next day and have a celebration!
What To Do at and Around Property?
Casual - Activities…
- The obvious relax stuff… read a book on the deck, sun bathe, take nap a 20 foot granite boulder… you know… the usual.
- Walk the property grounds and check out…
- The oak trees and how they have grown around and sometimes leaning on the boulders.
- Bird watching – Woodpeckers, Blue Jays and lots of other song birds and birds visiting during seasonal migrations.
- Go flower, bug and butter fly watching.
- Have a picnic or cold beverage on the grass or on top of boulders.
- Check out the ‘doll houses’, how they were constructed and what is inside.
- Watch hikers walking in front of cabin on Pacific Crest Trail. If they are walking south… they will look well worn, very tan and usually smiling since are just about one day from being done with the 2,650 journey. If they are walking north they are at mile 20, just starting the trek, so full of smiles, energy, optimism and enthusiasm (at least for now).
- Watch one of the local wild turkey rafters (wild turkey pack called a “rafter”) of around 15-20 turkeys walk around feeding on grass and things with the Toms puffing up their feathers guarding over the hens and poults (baby turkeys). Around sunset the turkeys take off from the field and road behind the cabin and fly up to the top of a large oak tree on property of neighbor to the south. It is quite a site to see and if you don’t see it you will hear it happening as it takes a lot of flapping and squawking to get a big turkey up to the top of a tree!
- Take some pictures… Exit front of cabin, turn right, then left to follow Pacific Crest Trail to grove of trees and boulders that have nice view of lake and mountains behind. Great place for family photographs, wedding pictures, etc.
Intermediate - Activities
• Walk to park and take the 20 minute ‘interpretive’ hike that shows the local varieties of plants, trees and brush along with nice views of the area.
• Rent a boat at Lake Morena Park.
• Hike the trails nearby lake.
• Hike the trail that goes towards Lake Morena Dam and an abandoned hunting lodge.
• Continue on that trail and go left at the fork towards the Morena Butte Trail and Hauser Overlook Trail. This is a loop trail that takes you through meadows and groves of huge old growth pine trees.
• Drive to one of the three museums in Campo…
o 1. Train Museum
o 2. Mountain Empire History Museum
o 3. Motor Transport Museum
• Drive to the US / Mexican border and take photo in front of metal fence. Border patrol agents do not mind but will make sure you are not picking up any packages or bringing back additional guests.
• In Campo, near the post office and Sheriff substation, see historic Camp Lockett where during WWII Italian prisoners of war were held.
• Drive north to Pine Valley or Mount Laguna to explore or eat.
• Drive east to Jacumba on Highway 94, see where the historic San Diego and Arizona Railway was built and where it crosses the road in multiple places.
More Vigorous - Activities…
o Bring your own 4WD, ATV or rent them and explore around Corral Canyon OHV (Off Highway Vehicle Area) and local “truck trails”.
o Find, climb and take your photo on top of skull rock! (20 minute walk from cabin)
o Rock climb up rock face to Morena Butte Trail.
o Hike to Mexican Border on Pacific Crest Trail (20 miles, a full day hike).
o Drive to Tecate, Mexico, park on US side, cross border and take short walk to downtown central park and 5 minutes past downtown to free Tecate Beer Brewery Tour.
The Owner purchased this cabin in 2013
Saw the vision for connecting the cabin with 'doll houses' to create a park like, private 'retreat' that was close to San Diego community but far enough away to feel like you are 'away from it all'. Property is across street from Lake Morena reservoir, county park, OHV area and national forest land with all the boating, fishing, hiking, biking and OHV fun that has to offer. Read the reviews to get your answer to 'why this property'?
Wild Turkeys walk around during the day and owls fly silently by at night. Sit in the front to see the activity of hinders walking by on the PCT and activity in the campground or sit in the private back yard.
We had six adults stay. Everything was amazing and honestly everything was as expected great!! Thanks, V.C.
The cabin and its doll houses make a quaint little retreat in the woods. Though it did turn out to be a bit too much of a drive into San Diego each day, it would have been an awesome vacation as a stand alone destination. The owner was very kind, and checked in by email periodically to make sure we were okay. It was really nice having a space for cooking meals, and separate rooms for our kiddos and ourselves. It was also really helpful to have wifi in the cabin. I really enjoyed the Owls at night, and my kids really liked all the toys that they could play with. My husband enjoyed the cabin itself, and the feel of his own private retreat in the woods. The beds were comfortable, and there was plenty of space for a family of four to enjoy. If I could make some suggestions, I would ask for some more blankets, some newer linens, and some wash cloths. But overall, it was lovely, and I hope we get to go back soon.
The house itself is in decent shape, but the real advantage is having lots of space, access to the park across the street, and an excellent value if you can get a couple friends together.
I would rate it 4 stars for the comfort factor (needs a couch!) but I have to give it 5 stars because the owner, Chris, has been impeccably professional throughout the entire rental experience.
I have to admit that this had to have been the best place we have stayed at through VRBO.
From the moment we arrived we felt like we were home. The cabin was everything that was mentioned in the post and then some.
Would highly recommend for anyone.
We needed a rental that was close to our relatives who live in the area. We wanted a cabin that would comfortably sleep a family of 4. The cabin exceeded our expectations. It was very clean and the backyard was perfect for kids. There was plenty to keep them busy including the separate exterior buildings with different themes and the large backyard. The cabin is sparingly furnished, but that worked out well for us since we spent most of our time outside. The owner was very responsive and the cabin included a folder with clear instructions on the property and its amenities. We will definitely be staying here again and plan on recommending the cabin to other relatives and friends.
My family and I had a great vacation in this incredible property located on the Pacific Crest Trail. The cabin and separate exterior buildings are very accommodating and comfortable. We are a family who enjoys the out doors and having the Pacific Crest Trail campgrounds across the street was an added bonus..... Thanks for sharing this wonderful property. We are looking forward to our next stay. I just can't say enough about this beautiful place.
The Lake Morena Village area was created after the Lake Morena Dam was built in 1912 and was a popular destination for the Hollywood elite at the time. There are streets around Lake Morena Village named after stars and areas in Hollywood like the intersection of “Hollywood and Vine” st just a few blocks away from the property.
For many years the area was comprised of small lots and tent cabins used for hunting camps and summer vacation rentals. Eventually the smaller lots were jointed to create larger parcels to build custom homes and the Lake Morena County Park was created to provide access to the lake, nearby trails and camping near the lake. Lake Morena Village that has a gas station (w/ convenience store) and the “Malt Shop” (convenience store and restaurant) that is a 10 minute walk from the property. To the west is Lake Morena, Lake Morena Dam, miles of open space, public land, off highway vehicle areas and lots of areas to explore. To the east is Campo that has more museums than restaurants (3 museums and 1 restaurant), post office, sheriff substation and border patrol station.
The Campo / Lake Morena area is rich in California, Mexico, Native American and U.S. history: The Diegueño (now called Kumeyaay or Tipai-Ipai, Kamia) lived there long before (12,000 years ago) European settlement so it wasn't until the early 1870s when a permanent Non-Native American settlement was established in the Campo Valley area. The area was settled by people migrating west from Texas, so much so that the area at one time was called "Little Texas".
On 4 December 1875, a gunfight between the citizens of Campo and a group of Mexican bandits, who had earlier killed the former Governor of Baja California Antonio Sosa in a robbery, took place at Gaskill's Store (now a museum). That famous incident caused the first soldiers to be stationed in what would be Camp Lockett.
World War I saw troop build ups in response to the Zimmermann Telegram - the 1917 diplomatic proposal from the German Empire offering a military alliance with Mexico, in the event of the United States entering World War I against Germany. The German Empire proposal was for “generous financial support and an understanding on our part that Mexico is to re-conquer the lost territory in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.”
San Diego and Arizona Railway (SD&AE) running from San Diego through Mexico to El Centro, CA was started by John Spreckels December 14, 1906 and completion November 15, 1919.
The railroad provided easy access to the area so by 1925, the small town of Jacumba Hot Springs had a world class hotel that many of the foremost movie stars and celebrities of the time regarded as a prime destination for relaxation.
In 1942, The Buffalo Soldiers (African American Soldiers) of the 10th Cavalry Regiment moved into Camp Lockett assigned to the southern defense of the Western Defense Command. Camp Lockett was expanded with more housing, infrastructure, a hospital and in 1944 a POW camp that housed Italian and German prisoners of war was created and POWs who worked in all phases of hospital operation, including services, maintenance, and construction.
In 1985 the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum revives the historic San Diego & Arizona Railway name, inaugurating its Golden State demonstration passenger trains from Campo, California east to Miller Creek and west to Division and Tunnel 4 at the Mexican border.
Campo area is rich in minerals with active quartz and gold mines. The Motor Transport Museum is located at the former processing station for gypsum that is used in the building, food and medical industries.
2012 there were plans to reactivate the San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railway (SD&AE) rail line to transport freight between Mexico, through Campo area to the east towards Arizona. Pacific Imperial Railroad, Inc. (PIR) signed a 99 year lease to rehabilitate, reopen and resume service, manage, operate, and maintain the entire Desert Line.
|Rate Period||Nightly||Weekend Night||Weekly||Monthly||Event|
My Standard Rate
2 night minimum stay
|Refundable damage deposit||$50|
Use of property for wedding ceremony or commercial use requires prior approval. Prior to rental acceptance, renters shall acknowledge information provided and agree to rules at document “Property, Travel, Communications, Security and General Information:”
Here is list of basic rules:
1. No pets.
2. No smoking inside any building (cabin, doll house, office, etc.)
3. No smokeless tobacco use on the property.
4. No fires except in Cabin Fireplace, BBQ or Chiminea.
5. Keep fires at a reasonable level and do not leave unattended.
6. Do not move BBQ or Chiminea. They are located at best fire safe locations. If you bring your own BBQ then locate it near the existing BBQ by the rocks. Do not dump hot ashes in garbage. Be fire safe.
7. If there is evidence BBQ or Chiminea was placed on the wood deck or otherwise moved your deposit will be forfeited automatically and you will be charged and pursued legally for any damage caused to the property. (Sorry to sound so harsh but a past guest started a large chiminea fire on the deck that damaged the deck and almost started a tree fire.)
8. Trees: Do not climb, attach any object or otherwise do damage to any tree.
9. Main lease signer is responsible that all other guests follow all the rules.