Lake Perris on the Rocks  LbNA # 29940

Placed DateApr 9 2007
LocationPerris, CA
Planted Bypunky    
Found By old folks
Last Found Dec 11 2010
Hike Distance?

Although the lake has only been here since 1972, the Lake Perris area is the site of at least two millennia of Native Californian occupation. Excavations conducted in the 1970’s indicate a low, but gradually increasing seasonal population in the area as early as 2,300 B.P. (350 B.C.). Several groups are known to have stayed here, though the Luiseño and Cahuilla people are generally acknowledged as having a closer aboriginal affiliation to the area. Although they are distinct and separate social units, the Cahuilla and Luiseño are linguistically related and traditionally shared very similar lifeways. Both culture groups remain in the area, and these sites remain a significant part of their culture and history. Please keep this in mind while visiting- archaeology is irreplaceable. Don't touch the rock art, and don't let your dog dig any holes!

Let the archaeotour begin!

From 215, take the Ramona Expressway exit east toward Lake Perris. Ignore the main entrance- keep going on Ramona, past the dam, around the bend, for another 3.3 miles. Turn left on Bernasconi Road and park your car at the crest of the hill, just outside of the park gate (it is usually closed on weekdays, anyway).

Box 1- Head for those tamarisk trees to the west. Pretty cool boulder, huh? This type of rock art is called a petroglyph, meaning that it is carved into the rock. This one, known as the Bernasconi Petroglyph or Takwish Rock, is a very unusual form- it doesn't fit into the usual classification scheme used by researchers in this area, and there aren't any similar ones known. Please resist the urge to pour your drink in the top (people do...). Now look to the scraggly pines to the west. Head for the one on the right. There is a large granite boulder with dark inclusions behind the tree. Just a little further uphill is a smaller, flatter boulder. The box is under and behind this rock. Watch for snakes! Watch for bugs! If you want to check out a little more rock art, there is the remains of a pictograph between the large split rock by the telephone pole to the north of the tamarisk trees. The image is indistinct, but you can still see red paint.

Box 2- Walk, bike, or if the gate is open and you are inclined to pay $8, drive, one half mile to the start of hte paved bike path. From here it is 0.2 mile to a dirt path on the right, directly across from the second kids' playset. Take this path back to the pepper trees. Walk under the trees and look down- mortars! Native Californians traditionally subsisted on gathered seeds and other plants. Though this type of deep bedrock mortar was long thought to be used for grinding acorns, do you see any oaks? Me neither. The area was abundant in seeds and fruits, which would have been processed here. Excavations in 1972 indicate that this site was used for a long, long time. Ok, back out of the trees, just back to about the treeline. See the tall eucalyptus on the lake shore, taller than the surrounding pepper trees? There is often a bald eagle in those branches. Now turn around and face the hill. There is a tall, vertical rock in front of you, with a shiny green shrub to the left (I don't know what kind of shrub, sadly). The box is in the rocks at the base of that shrub. Watch for snakes! Watch for bugs! Watch for people!

Box 3- Continue to head east on the bike path. 1.2 miles from the peppertrees you will find the pictograph rock. pictographs are painted images, usually painted with a mixture of iron oxide and animal fat or some other binder. This type of image is classified by researchers as "San Luis Rey style". Elements common to these sites are chevrons, zigzags, cross-hatching, and diamond chains. The style is widely represented throughout Southern California, in areas used by several different cultural groups. From this rock, cross the ditch on your right and go to the fractured-looking boulder next to the dark green shrub (I still don't know what that shrub is, but the others are elderberry. It isn't an elderberry.) The box is in a crack in the back side of the rock. As always- Watch for snakes! Bugs! Fishermen!

Either head back the way you came, or ask a friend to pick you up at parking lot 12/Power Cove. It is about 2 miles. Have fun and let us know if you find it!