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

Email: sdrp@sdrp.org

 

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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.

Trails in the San Dieguito River Park

Coast to Crest Trail

We do have trail maps! Please scroll down to get to them.

The San Dieguito River Park goal is to create a multi-use trail system for hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders that will extend from the ocean at Del Mar to the San Dieguito River's source on Volcan Mountain, just north of Julian. This is a distance of approximately 55 miles. This linear trail system has been named the "Coast to Crest Trail". 

Click here to read about volunteering on our Trail Maintenance Team.

Click here to read the Trails Event Policy, with Application Form.

Click here to read the Geocaching Policy and separate Registration Form

Click here to read the Mobility Policy, which describes Park rules about other-power-driven mobility devices, and which trails can accommodate them.

Click here for the Reach the Beach Feasibility Study (Feb 2012, updated April 2012)

Click here for the Old Survey Road 97 Historical Significance Assessment

Click here for a link to the Ruth Merrill Childrens Interpretive Walk along the Highland Valley Trail.

Future trails will be aligned along existing rights of way and back country dirt roads whenever possible, in order to minimize impacts to the natural environment.

Specific trail alignments will be developed in cooperation with landowners and leaseholders in order to minimize impacts to existing uses, such as farming, cattle ranching and private residences. Trails will be adequately separated from existing uses through setbacks, significant elevational separation, and/or fencing; signage will be provided along the trail to inform users to stay on the trail and to respect adjoining private property. The Park has a Volunteer Patrol program to help ensure that park regulations are observed.

Motorized vehicles are prohibited on park trails, except for service or emergency vehicles. For exceptions see Mobility Policy above.

Some portions of the Coast to Crest Trail have been completed and are open to the public. In addition, some auxiliary trails within the San Dieguito River Park are open to public use.  Auxiliary trails are not part of the Coast to Crest Trail system.

Public Use Trails

The following trails are available for public use and are within SDRP's focused planning area:


Read below for a description of the trails, directions and to view and download trail maps.

1. Piedras Pintadas Trail - Lake Hodges Area
OPEN

Trailmap: Piedras Pintadas Trailmap
Trailhead location: South of Lake Hodges, West of I-15, in Rancho Bernardo, CA.
Directions to Trail: : I-15 North towards Escondido, exit Pomerado Rd/West Bernardo Road. Take West Bernardo Road west. Trail head and parking at Bernardo Bay Natural Area across from retirement home.
Use: Hiking and Mountain Biking Only.
Difficulty: Easy/Medium
Length: 3.8 miles round trip.
Vertical Climb: 318’ low elevation to 426’ high elevation
Features: Wildlife, Native American Rock Art, etc.
Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash only.
Interpretive: Yes – Kumeyaay Lifestyles and Use of Native Plants
Trail Manager: San Dieguito River Park JPA 858-674-2270

2. Highland Valley Trail - Lake Hodges Area
OPEN

Trailmap: Highland Valley Trailmap
Trailhead location: South of Lake Hodges, East of I-15, in Rancho Bernardo, CA.
Directions to Trail: I-15 North towards Escondido, exit Pomerado Rd/West Rancho Bernardo Road. Take Pomerado Dr. East.
Use: Hiking and Horseback riding only.
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 4 miles round trip.
Vertical Climb: 341’ low elevation to 429’ high elevation
Features: Oak tree shade.
Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash only.
Interpretive: Yes. The first mile of the trail is the Ruth Merrill Children’s Walk. Call the River Park office for free copies of the teacher’s guide (English and Spanish versions are available.)
Trail Manager: San Dieguito River Park JPA 858-674-2270

3. North Shore Lake Hodges - Lake Hodges Area
OPEN

Trailmap: North Shore Lake Hodges Trailmap
Trailhead location: : For Del Dios East Trailhead: I-15 North towards Escondido, exit Via Rancho Parkway. West on Via Rancho Parkway, turn left on Lake Drive (just before reaching Del Dios Highway). Turn left into Del Dios Community Park parking lot. For Del Dios West Trailhead: Follow Del Dios East Trailhead directions until you reach Lake Drive, continue west on Lake Drive until reaching parking lot across from Hernandez Hideaway. For Sunset Drive Trailhead see directions for Mule Hill/San Pasqual Valley Trail below. For David Kreitzer Lake Hodges Bicycle/Pedestrian Bridge, f rom I-15, exit at West Bernardo/Pomerado Drive, go left (west) on West Bernardo Drive. Park in the Bernardo Bay Natural Area parking lot at the top of the hill. Walk down the new West Bernardo Bike Path to reach the bridge. It is 0.7 of a mile from the parking lot to the north side of the bridge.
Use: Hiking, Mountain Biking, and Horseback riding. (Horses are NOT allowed on the David Kreitzer Lake Hodges Bicycle/Pedestrian Bridge.)
Difficulty: Easy/Medium
Length: 14.8 miles round trip.
Vertical Climb: 305’ low elevation to 425’ high elevation
Features: Views of Lake; birds.
Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash only.
Interpretive: No
Trail Manager: San Dieguito River Park JPA 858-674-2270

4. Crest Canyon Trail
OPEN

Trailmap: Crest Canyon Trail
Trailhead location: : Northern Del Mar overlooking San Dieguito Lagoon at Coast.
Directions to Trail: Take I-5 north to Via de la Valle. Go west on Via de la Valle, then south on Jimmy Durante Blvd., turn left on San Dieguito Drive just past the bridge over the San Dieguito River. Drive about .6 mile to kiosk. Park on side of road.
Use: Hiking only
Difficulty:
Easy/Moderate
Length: 1.15 miles one-way
Vertical Climb: 62’ low elevation to 311’ high elevation
Features: Coastal bluffs
Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash only.
Interpretive: No
Trail Manager: City of San Diego. Call 858 538-8082 for information.

5. Clevenger Canyon / San Pasqual South
OPEN

Trailmap: Clevenger Canyon
Trailhead location: Rugged mountains east of San Pasqual Valley, south of Hwy 78.
Directions to Trail: Follow directions for Hwy 78/Bandy Canyon Trailhead for the Mule Hill/San Pasqual Valley Trail, except continue 5.3 miles past the Wild Animal Park.
Use: Hiking only
Difficulty:
Moderate/Strenuous
Length: 3.2 miles one way
Vertical Climb: 650’ low elevation to 1755’ high elevation
Features: Long views; vigorous climbs.
Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash only.
Interpretive: No
Trail Manager: City of San Diego. Call 858 538-8082 for information.

Clevenger Canyon/San Pasqual North
OPEN

Trailmap: Clevenger Canyon
Trail location: Rugged mountains east of San Pasqual Valley, north of Hwy 78.
Directions to Trailhead: Follow directions for Hwy 78/Bandy Canyon Trailhead for the Mule Hill/San Pasqual Valley Trail, except continue 5.8 miles past the Wild Animal Park.
Use: Hiking Only
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 10 miles one way; however, large portions of the trail system on the top of the mesa have been obliterated by fire and cannot be identified.
Vertical Climb: 510’ low elevation to 1879’ high elevation
Features: Long views; vigorous climbs.
Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash only.
Interpretive: No
Trail Manager: City of San Diego. Call 858 538-8082 for information.

6. Mule Hill Historical / San Pasqual Valley Agricultural Trail
OPEN

Trailmap: Mule Hill Trailmap
Trailhead location: San Pasqual Valley, East of I-15.
Directions to Trail: Sunset Drive Trailhead: North on I-15, exit Via Rancho Parkway, go east. Take a right at Sunset Drive (first light) and drive to trailhead parking lot at the cul de sac or park along the street. For Ysabel Creek Trailhead: Follow directions for Highland Valley Road Trail; after turning from Pomerado onto Highland Valley Road, continue on Highland Valley Road for 4 miles, take left on Bandy Canyon Road to Ysabel Creek Road. Trailhead is on the corner. For Hwy 78 Trailhead: Exit Via Rancho Parkway, go east. Take right on San Pasqual Valley Road. At intersection with Hwy 78, take a right, following the signs for the Wild Animal Park. Go 2.75 miles past the Wild Animal Park, cross over the bridge and take a right at Bandy Canyon Road. Take another right into the dirt lot, and follow the signs for the trailhead parking area.
Use: Hiking, Mountain Biking, or Horseback riding only.
Difficulty:
Easy/Medium
Length:
10 miles one-way.
Vertical Climb: 324’ low elevation to 760’ high elevation (the trail is generally flat, with one steep section that increases 400’ elevation in 3400 foot distance.)
Features: Historical resources; Proximity to agriculture; Pastoral views
Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash only.
Interpretive: Yes
Trail Manager: San Dieguito River Park JPA 858 674-2270

7. Riverpath Del Mar
OPEN

Trailmap: Lagoon Trailmap
Trailhead location: Del Mar
Directions to Trail: Take I-5 north to Via de la Valle. Go west on Via de la Valle, then south on Jimmy Durante Blvd. Just past the bridge over the San Dieguito River. The trail is located along the south shore of the river, west of Jimmy Durante Blvd.
Use: Hiking only
Difficulty: Easy
Length:
1/4 mile
Vertical Climb: Flat
Features: River views, benches
Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash only.
Interpretive: No
Trail Manager: City of Del Mar.

8. Volcan Mountain
OPEN The Preserve is open to mid-summit from
sunrise to sunset year round (weather permitting). The trail
from mid-summit to the summit is open from April through
November from 9:00am to 6:00pm on weekends only. The Fire
Road Trail is open to hikers, mountain bikes and equestrians;
the Five Oaks Trail is open to hikers only.

This trail is occasionally closed during the winter months. Please call County Trails Manager first if in doubt.

Trailmap: Volcan Mountain
Trailhead location: Farmer Road, north of Julian.
Directions to Trail: From Julian, take Farmer Road 2.2 miles, turn right on Wynola Road for 100 yards, then left, back onto the continuation of Farmer Road. Proceed a short distance and park on the shoulder of the paved road by the Preserve’s sign on the right side of the road
Use: Hiking, mountain biking, equestrian.
Difficulty:
Medium
Length:
1.5 mile one way (docent-led trips to the summit are 2.5 miles one way, offered once a month. Click here for schedule.)
Vertical Climb:
Features: Wildlife, James Hubbell-designed entry monument
Dogs Allowed: No
Interpretive: No
Trail Manager: County of San Diego.

9. Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve East and West
This trail is occasionally closed during the winter months. Please call County Trails Manager first if in doubt.

East Trailmap: Santa Ysabel East Trail Map
Trailhead location: Farmer Road, north of Julian.
Directions to Trail: From Julian, take Farmer Road 2.2 miles, turn right on Wynola Road for 100 yards, then left, back onto the continuation of Farmer Road. Go one mile past the Volcan Mountain Preserve Sign to the Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve staging area on the left side of the road. Park on the road or in the parking area.
Use: Hiking, Bicycling and Equestrian.
Difficulty:
Medium
Length:
8 miles one way. There are also two shorter loops.
Vertical Climb:
Features: Large oaks and sycamores.
Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash only
Interpretive: No
Trail Manager: County of San Diego, call 760-765-4098.

Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve - West
OPEN Daily 8 a.m. to dusk
This trail is occasionally closed during the winter months. Please call County Trails Manager first if in doubt.

West Trailmap: Santa Ysabel Preserve West
Trailhead location: Hwy 78 about two miles west of Santa Ysabel
Directions to Trail: From Ramona, head east on Hwy 67/78 for about 10 miles. Trailhead is on left, just before going down the hill toward Santa Ysabel.
Use: Hiking, Bicycling and Equestrian.
Difficulty:
Medium
Length:
6.5 miles
Vertical Climb:
Features: Large oaks.
Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash only
Interpretive: No
Trail Manager: County of San Diego, call 760-765-4098.


 

10. Santa Fe Valley
OPEN

Trailmap: Santa Fe Valley/Del Dios Gorge Map
Trailhead location: Del Dios Highway. Turn south at Lemon Twist Stand (burned in Witch Fire) across from Calle Ambiente.
Directions to Trail: From the parking area, walk south (up the slope). The trail is on your right.
Use: Hiking, equestrian and mountain biking
Difficulty:
Easy/Moderate
Length:
3 miles one-way
Vertical Climb: Two sets of switchbacks at western end
Features: Views of San Dieguito River
Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash only
Interpretive: Yes
Trail Manager:San Dieguito River Park JPA 858-674-2270

11. Lagoon Trail
OPEN

Trailmap: Lagoon Trail (English) or Lagoon Trail (Spanish)
Trailhead location: Take I-5 north to Via de la Valle. Option 1: Go west on Via de la Valle, then south on Jimmy Durante Blvd. Just past the bridge over the San Dieguito River, take a right where the Del Mar Public Works Yard is located. Park where you can find a legal space. This is the closest access to the west end. From the parking area, cross Jimmy Durante Blvd., then cross the bridge to the north side of the river. Trail is on the east. Option 2: Go east on Via de la Valle, turn right on San Andres. Park anywhere along San Andres. Access trail at kiosk.
Trail Description and Use: From the west, there is a 1200 foot long boardwalk near the edge of the river, ending at a viewing platform/bench. The boardwalk is for pedestrian use only. The multi-use trail for hiking/bicycle use starts at the viewing platform and continues east for two miles, going under the I-5 freeway, paralleling the freeway on the east side, crossing wetland treatment ponds and turning left to parallel San Andres Drive. In the near future (after construction activity on the site ends) the trail will be extended to the western edge of Horsepark.
Difficulty: Easy
Length:
2 miles
Vertical Climb: None
Features: Views of San Dieguito River and tidal marshes; good birdviewing.
Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash only
Interpretive: Yes
Trail Manager: San Dieguito River Park JPA 858-674-2270

12. Del Dios Gorge
OPEN FROM SANTA FE VALLEY ROAD STAGING AREA TO LAKE HODGES DAM

Trailmap: Santa Fe Valley/Del Dios Gorge Map
Trailhead location: Del Dios Highway. Turn south at Lemon Twist Stand (burned in Witch Fire) across from Calle Ambiente.
Directions to Trail: From the parking area, walk south (up the slope). Trail is on your left.
Use: Hiking, equestrian and mountain biking.
Difficulty:
Easy
Length:
2 miles one way
Vertical Climb:
Features: Views of San Dieguito River in the gorge; interesting rock formations; this trail ends at the Lake Hodges Dam, but Trail Users are connected directly to the Hodges North Shore Trail without interruption.
Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash only
Interpretive: Yes
Trail Manager: San Dieguito River Park JPA 858-674-2270

13. Old Coach Trail Link
OPEN

Trailmap: Old Coach Trail Link
Trailhead location: Highland Valley Road, about 2.5 miles east of I-15. Name of staging area is Highland Valley-Old Coach Staging Area. No equestrian parking.
Directions to Trail: You can access two trails from this staging area. Either head south to access the City of Poway's Old Coach Trail (please note that at 2.3 miles in, there is a washed out bridge that is impassable, and you will need to return). Or head briefly east to cross Highland Valley Road and join up with the Mule Hill/San Pasqual Valley segment of the Coast to Crest Trail.
Use:
Hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians are allowed.
Difficulty: The initial Poway section is steep.
Length:
Varies.
Vertical Climb:
Features: Views of San Pasqual Valley.
Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash only
Interpretive: Yes
Trail Manager:San Dieguito River Park JPA 858-674-2270

14. Dust Devil Nature Trail (formerly known as Mesa Loop Trail)
OPEN

Trailmap: Dust Devil Nature Trail; see also Lagoon Trail map
Trailhead location: El Camino Real.
Directions to Trail: From Via de la Valle, go south on El Camino Real, go up the hill past the signal light at San Dieguito Road. Entrance to the staging area is on the right just before you get to the signal light at Stallion's Crossing. From Del Mar Heights, go north on El Camino Real. You will have to go through the signal light at Stallion's Crossing, go down the hill and make a U-turn at San Dieguito Road, going back up the hill. The entrance to the staging area is on the right just before you get back to the signal light at Stallion's Crossing.
Use:
This is a pedestrian only trail.
Difficulty: Easy.
Length:
Three loops, totaling 1.7 miles.
Vertical Climb: None
Features: Wildlife viewing.
Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash only
Interpretive:
Trail Manager:San Dieguito River Park JPA 858-674-2270

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