San Diego Trails: Del Dios Highlands Preserve

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve: Olivenhain ...

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San Diego Trails – Del Dios Highlands Preserve

Del Dios Highlands Preserve in Escondido is a fantastic place to “take a hike”, especially those who consider a hearty workout to be a good way to spend a few hours (it’s class as “moderately strenuous” whatever that means, I suppose it depends on how fast you choose to hike). The Del Dios Highlands trails is only 1.3 miles (one way), and you can choose to carry on a further 1.8 miles (one way) on the Lake Hodges Overlook trail after that.

What Might You See at Del Dios Highlands Preserve

Well of course, that kind of depends on when you visit. If you go on a clear day you could possibly see the Pacific Ocean, but if not you’ll just have to make do with blue water views over the Olivenhain Reservoir and Lake Hodges. The place is absolutely awash with beautiful wild flowers in the spring time and early summer . . . watch out for wild lilac, the fragrant blue sage blooms and the wonderfully vibrant yellow wallflower shrubs.  A well trained eye might also spot red Mexican pinks, purple wild pea, scarlet monkeyflowers and yellow rock roses, amongst many other things.

Hiking the Trail

Although the Del Dios Highlands Preserve isn’t very long, it does make up for it with its steep climbs, at least 500 feet in the first half a mile. If you manage the full 1.3 miles you’ll be rewarded with terrific views to the Olivenhain Reservoir, and continuing on to the Lake Hodges trail you can actually see the reservoir on one side of you, with the lake to the other, brilliant.  For the more energetic amongst you, you can actually join up with another 11 miles of trails with the Elfin Forest trail system. Don’t forget to pack a picnic and plenty of water!

Finding the Del Dios Highlands Preserve Trail

The trailhead is on Interstate 15, exit in Escondido at Via Rancho Parkway and head west for around 4 miles. You’ll come to a dead end at Del Dios Highway, where you need to turn south (left) towards the parking area.  Hikers, bikers and horseback riders are all welcome, and you can take your doggy friends too, as long as you keep them on a leash. You don’t even have to pay! Why are you still here? Go on, go now . . .  

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