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Hello everyone! This is a friendly reminder that any of these fun places we may visit, we are a guest at. Please treat both businesses and trails with the utmost respect. We here at Hidden San Diego follow the 'Leave no Trace' mantra, meaning whatever you bring with you comes back with you. If you see trash on a trail, please do your part to help remove it. Remember, we are not picking up trash from another person but instead cleaning up for Mother Nature. Happy adventures!

Cara Way
San Diego, CA 92131

Phone: (619) 685-0005
32.944705, -117.106622

Hike: There are a few trails that begin from this spot

Dog-Friendly: Yes    Kid-Friendly: Yes

The 1986 murder of twenty year-old Cara Knott by California Highway Patrol Office Craig Peyer was a case that shook the San Diego region like an earthquake. It frightened women young and old, it horrified parents who wanted to believe their daughters were safe in our community, and it engendered a gut level distrust of police that persists in many to this day. It still evokes a visceral reaction from hundreds of thousands of San Diegans, and it was every bit as shocking back then as was the Chelsea King and Amber Dubois murders that brought the region to its emotional knees a quarter of a century later.

cara knott memorial garden hidden san diegoOne tangible manifestation of the Knott tragedy is the San Diego Crime Victims Oak Garden  located near the site where Cara’s body was dumped just northeast of the intersection of Interstate 15 and Mercy Road.

To reach the park, exit Interstate 15 at the Mercy Road/Scripps Poway Parkway exit, go east and make a U-turn at Scripps Highland Drive 300 yards from the freeway, take the first right into Cara Way and proceed north to the park.

The creative force behind the oak garden concept was Cara’s grieving father Sam Knott who lobbied for the better part of a decade to have the area dedicated to his daughter. His work reached fruition in 1996 when the site was dedicated as the Cara Knott Memorial Oak Garden.

It was re-dedicated in 1999 as the San Diego Crime Victims Memorial Garden, undoubtedly with the blessing of the Knott family. In that year, Sam Knott transplanted scores of Oak saplings that the family had grown from acorns in their back yard.

Since its dedication the park has grown into an oasis where the lives of dozens of victims of crime and violent death are commemorated. It is the gathering point for periodic events in which family and friends of those who are remembered here gather and continue the process of recovery. It has also become something of a destination for followers of paranormal phenomena.

Personal Experience: I've lived in this area for much of my life and have driven on Scripps Poway Pkwy numerous times each month. I am quite familiar with the Cara Knott case and was also aware of the memorial created in her name. I had briefly searched for the location in the past but was unable to find the location. When I finally did find it, I was shocked to find this seemingly hidden road right before the 15 North freeway, called Cara Way.

This area is both beautiful and also brimming with pain. The story of Cara and her father is heartbreaking and you can feel the grief everywhere. I recommend that if you do visit this area, to come with something to help make it more colorful and beautiful. It doesn't seem to receive too much upkeep, but could definitely use the love.

The bridge is the starting point of a great hiking trail know as the Rancho PQ Trans County Trail.  If you continue taking the trail you will pass Eichar's Grave and eventually end up at the PQ Waterfall.  This is a full day trip if you want it to be!

Hidden below the 15 freeway is this smaller bridge. This is the bridge that Cara Knott was thrown off of after a patrol officer strangled her:

The memorial garden is difficult to walk through, although a beautiful tribute to so many lives lost:

A nice gazebo to relax at:

cara knott bridge

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13 Reviews

Comments

  • Admin
    Rating Overall Rating Difficulty Finding

    I’ve been wanting to somehow coordinate a beautification of that place. It’s so sad these days. I am an art teacher and have thought of having my students make little ornaments and such to re-vamp it. If you know anyone that would like to be part of this, let me know!

    July 30, 2014

  • Karthik
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    I went there today and I had a very nice time today, when i went there i could feel the sadness all around me but still the importance. I almost thought I was in the wrong place but the most important thing to find the memorial is to keep going straight and go down all the way to Cara way

    August 2, 2015

  • You
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    I’ve been here many times

    September 5, 2016

  • Martha
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    June 2017 – The oaks have grown up so the grove is lovely. The best way to get there (if you have the time) is from the park at the southern end of La Tortola. Take the dirt road to the left off the park and walk to the stream. Cross the stream on stepping stones. Turn left on the south side of the stream. The path follows the stream east to the freeway. Going under the freeway, you can see the “art” and other detritus left by a different community of lost souls. When you emerge east of the freeway you can see the bridge that Cara was dumped off of, and not much farther is the oak garden.

    June 26, 2017

  • Ralph
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    Is there a list of the names of people that have memorials here? I noticed that some of the memorials have a number with the name so I was wondering if someone keeps track of the names at the memorial. I would like to get the names if possible.

    August 20, 2017

  • John walsh
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    New years 1987 I swear I met Cara’s sister in Boston on new years at the Metro in Boston Mass, after that I came across the horrible crime it has been 31 years since then, I would just like to thank her for the dance that night,

    January 13, 2018

  • Anonymous
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    I went there today and saw a lot of beautifully painted rocks. The oaks are happy for the rain they got just wish all the gardening tools were still around to do cleanup with. Great place to have a bite to eat and relax .

    January 22, 2018

  • May 23, 2019 Dianne
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    I see so many comments here and other websites that the memorial is in need of cleanup. I have not been there as of yet and would love to. I can remember this incident as if it happened yesterday. And yes I was one of those scared 20 year olds scared to death to drive up and down the 15 or so much as look at a CHP or trust them. It would be so nice if CHP officers would raise money in honor of Cara & make it an official memorial site and clean up crew volunteers go in once a month from the CHP and clean it up. IDK. just a suggestion.

    May 24, 2019

  • Anonymous
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    If the area is in really bad shape, maybe a cleanup could be part of an Eagle Scout project? I don’t know all that entails, but it certainly seems doable.

    August 26, 2019

  • Gigi E
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    Just recently visited this memorial with my sister. We’ve lived in the area our whole lives and knew the memorial existed. At the time we learned of it, the garden was the Cara Knott memorial garden. It has been renamed to Crime Victim’s Memorial Oak Garden. It could use TLC. The overgrown plants have taken over some of the memorials. I love to garden to fun, it’d make my soul incredibly happy to plant native wildflowers and bring colorful garden ornaments to the area. If anyone plans to coordinate a beautification project, I’d love to be a part of it. Friends of Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve would be great to coordinate a project with.

    December 8, 2019

  • Anonymous
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    I might also add that Cara’s father had a heart attack at the site. So so sad. The off ramp was once called Mercy Road and it was closed for a while after this happened. Craig Peter has preyed on many people, but especially Volkswagens. He was a graduate of Kearny, which is where I graduated. Kind of creepy! Cara was a wonderful artist. I didn’t realize that this had been turned into a memorial for many. ?

    April 25, 2020

  • Jeff
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    Who owns this park, who maintains it and how can we volunteer to help?

    June 11, 2020

  • Ma
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    This tragedy is just one negative reminder of how some pigs still get away with cold blooded murder. He is going to be free out of prison soin because of covid 19. …what an injustice. Leave that slimebag peyer in prison 4 life!

    May 4, 2021

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Cara Way, San Diego, CA 92131, USA

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