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The San Dieguito River Park
18372 Sycamore Creek Rd.
Escondido, CA 92025
Phone: (858) 674-2270
Fax: (858) 674-2280



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River Park mailing list

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The River Park has converted from a print-based distribution system to a web-based system. If you are interested in receiving e-mail notices when the quarterly activity schedule is posted to the website, and news of special events occurring in the Park, click above to send us an e-mail.

Lake Hodges

Lake Hodges is located between Escondido and Rancho Bernardo. Most of it lies west of I-15, but as you cross it on I-15, you can see the lake on both sides when the lake is full. The lake is owned by the City of San Diego Water Department which operates the lake's recreational activities. Daily permits are needed for fishing or boating. Questions about lake use should be directed to (619) 668-2050. Fishing season is generally February to November on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Call (619) 465-3474 for recorded fishing information. The San Dieguito River Park is in the process of enhancing the trails around the Lake, and constructing new ones that may be needed.

Lake Hodges Bicycle/Pedestrian Bridge: 

Click here to see Construction Photos!

The San Dieguito River Park hired T.Y. Lin International bridge engineers to design an innovative, beautiful and low-impact bridge for pedestrians and bicyclists over Lake Hodges.  Construction was completed in May 2009. It crosses the lake from north to south, about 1,000 feet west of the I-15 freeway bridge.  The bridge is 990 feet long and twelve feet wide.  The project was funded with Federal, State and local funds: $3,000,000 federal TEA grant, with Caltrans District 11 as the River Park's state partner on the project; $1,500,000 State River Parkway Bond Act funds (Prop 13) and $625,000 from State River Parkway Bond Act funds (Prop 40); and $500,000 from SANDAG. Additional $2,000,000 in Federal/State RIP funds were awarded by Sandag on 3/17/06, and $1,875,000 in SANDAG Transnet funds on 3/23/07. The preferred bridge type was a stressed-ribbon design. The advantages of this design style are that there are only two piers in the lake (each span is 330 feet long) and the profile is thin - only 16" deep. Thus the bridge has minimum visual impact. The bridge is part of a larger planned bikeway project, discussed further below.

General Schematic for Stressed-Ribbon Style

click for larger image

A Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) was circulated on January 13, 2005, with written comments due by February 16, 2005. A Public Hearing was held on May 20, 2005 at 9:30 a.m. at the County Administrative Center at 1600 Pacific Highway, Room 302/303, San Diego. At that time the JPA Board of Directors approved the MND and the project.

Because the project is located on land owned by the City of San Diego and in the jurisdiction of the City of San Diego, it was necessary to obtain a Site Development Permit from the City of San Diego. The San Diego City Council approved the Site Development Permit on September 20, 2005.

Bridge planning began when the level of Lake Hodges was very low. Shortly before construction began, rains brought the lake to full capacity. This impacts the bridge project because of the extra cost associated with construction in high water conditions. The contractor needed to build a temporary construction trestle across the lake to enable heavy equipment to reach the sites of the piers where the contractor had to build cofferdams to keep water out during construction. For more details on the project, click here for the Mitigated Negative Declaration for the Lake Hodges Bicycle/Pedestrian Bridge.

West Bernardo Bike Path

The West Bernardo Bike Path is the extension of the David Kreitzer Lake Hodges Bicycle/Pedestrian Bridge to the south up West Bernardo Drive to Rancho Community Park Drive. This project cost $1,775,000 and was funded from two grants - a $350,000 State Environmental Enhancement Mitigation Program grant and a $1,425,000 Transnet Grant from SANDAG.

The bike path is 2,600 feet long in total. 760 feet of the bike path was built on a cantilevered viaduct because the section of West Bernardo Drive next to the lake was too narrow otherwise to accommodate the width of the bike path.

The contractor on this project was Tri-Group Construction. Construction began January 2010. It had to shut down from May to September due to bird nesting restrictions. Construction resumed September 16, 2010 and was finished in March 2011. See photo below, showing the bike path leading to the beautiful David Kreitzer Lake Hodges Bike/Ped Bridge.

I-15 Trail Undercrossing:

The San Dieguito River Park completed construction of an important trail linkage in 1995. This trail is an 8 foot wide concrete Class I bike path with adjacent 4 foot wide dirt hiking/equestrian trail. It connects trails on the east side of I-15 with trails on the west side of the freeway via a trail undercrossing constructed under the freeway bridge at Lake Hodges. The trail was constructed on top of the existing "rip-rap" (or boulders) that support the freeway bridge. This linkage permits people to park on the east side of the freeway at the Sunset Drive cul de sac (take the Via Rancho Parkway exit east) and access the existing trail on the north side of the lake west of the freeway. Funding for the undercrossing project was state, federal and local. There were $420,000 in state Environmental Enhancement Mitigation grant funds, $715,000 in federal Interstate Surface Transportation Efficiency Act funds (ISTEA), and $60,000 in design funds from the SANDAG Bicycle Facilities Committee.

Kids enjoying the new undercosssing at I-15

These kids are enjoying the I-15 Trail Undercrossing.

Piedras Pintadas Cultural Resource Management Plan:

The San Dieguito River Park completed a protection plan for the significant Native American cultural site south of Lake Hodges known as Piedras Pintadas. As part of the protection plan, appropriate trail access and interpretive signage about Kumeyaay lifestyles was installed. Project funding was $250,000 from a state legislative grant, matched by $250,000 from a San Dieguito River Park trust fund at the City of San Diego. Future plans include the construction of a rock art replica. This area is located on the south side of Lake Hodges, west of I-15. Take the West Bernardo Drive/Pomerado Drive exit west, park in dirt parking area signed as the Bernardo Bay Natural Area. Please see the Piedras Pintadas Trail Map. In addition, the Park has published an informative book, The Painted Rocks, which is aimed for children in grades 3-6, but is of interest to all ages. Call (858) 674-2270 for more information about the book and how you can purchase it.

Bernardo Bay Natural Area:

Bernardo Bay Natural Area is an open space area owned by the City of San Diego Water Department and designated as a cornerstone property in the City's Multiple Species Conservation Program. The Bernardo Bay Natural Area is located south of Lake Hodges and west of I-15. The area is currently heavily used, but most trails have not been clearly designated, and many trails have been created randomly by users. These "volunteer" trails usually are badly eroded and can degrade the biological and cultural resources of the area, in addition to being unsightly.  Future plans include a Master Plan for this area that would designate the trails to be kept and the ones to be closed.  A life-size replica of Kumeyaay rock art has also been proposed for this area.

Mule Hill Historical Trail: Mule Hill and Sikes Adobe

Mule Hill is an historic site located east of I-15, on the north side of the Lake. It is the location of an 1846 Mexican-American War battle between the Californios under the leadership of General Andres Pico and the Army of the United States, under the leadership of General Stephen Watts Kearny. The San Dieguito River Park completed construction of the Mule Hill Historical Trail in June 2002.  There are two interpretive stations along the trail (about 1 1/4 mile from the trailhead at Sunset Drive) that tell the story of the battle fought at the site, as well as interesting facts about the Town of Bernardo and the old San Diego to Yuma Road.  The trail is a multi-use trail for hikers, bicyclists and equestrians.  The trail connects Sikes Adobe with Mule Hill, making this trail a rewarding experience for history buffs.

Highland Valley Trail

The Highland Valley Trail is a pleasant 2 mile long trail east of I-15, south of Lake Hodges. The trail is for hiking and horseback riding only. The trail was built by the San Dieguito River Park using state grant funds with the cooperative efforts of the City of San Diego, the Urban Corps, the Boy Scouts and many other community volunteers.

Ruth Merrill Children's Interpretive Walk

The first mile of the Highland Valley Trail forms the base of the Ruth Merrill Children's Interpretive Walk.  The walk features markers at various locations that are keyed to a self-guided pamphlet.  The trailhead offers a flyer that briefly explains what can be observed and learned at each marker.  However, the pamphlet, which is available at the River Park office, and is offered in both English and Spanish, provides much more information.  Teachers in particular are encouraged to contact the River Park office to obtain pamphlets for their students.

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