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Lake Hodges Overlook

Escondido, California

based on 10 reviews



6.73 miles

Elevation Gain

1407 ft

Route Type



Added by Dane

Amazing view of Lake Hodges in the Elfin Forest with creek viewing areas. There are botanical garden trails and beautiful lush trees.

Elfin Forest is one of the most beautiful and unique trails in all of San Diego, CA. The parking is free as well as the overflow parking area. There is an Interpretive Center located in the staging area where you can speak to park rangers, learn about the wildlife and trail locations. The parking area and Interpretive Center is open from 8:00am-7:30pm.

The trail head begins at the Escondido Creek at 492ft elevation. The creek runs year round from Lake Wohlford to the Pacific Ocean. There are beautiful streams and small waterfalls that are easily accessible for viewing.

Beginning the hike to the top you can either take the Botanical Garden trail or the Way Up trail. If you decide to take the Botanical Garden trail be sure to grab a map at the Interpretive Center so you can locate the many listed species on the trail.

The Way Up trail (1.41 miles) is moderately steep and has a few picnic resting stops along the way with shade. It is still rideable up hill either mountain biking or horseback riding. Once the switchbacks end you continue on a flat wide trail until you hike your last hill (50 yds) to the Lake Hodges Overlook 1.200ft). The view of Lake Hodges is unbeatable.

On your way back be sure to stop at the picnic area just below the overlook where you can find restrooms and a much needed water fountain. The staff and rangers are super friendly and go above and beyond to assure you have a great experience. Be sure to bring plenty of drinking water with you. As this trail is in Escondido it can get hot and dry in the afternoons.

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Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Picnic Area

Lake Hodges Overlook Reviews

The distance isn't very long but the effort it takes to climb the steep hillside makes it a good workout. Pretty views your whole way up.

This hike has easy access and well maintained paths. We used to hike it weekly as a workout with our crew just be careful can be busy on the weekend and during the summer there are a high chance for rattlers.

We took the Up and Up route instead of the Botanical Trail and got to enjoy some great views along the switchbacks. While there weren't any left when we got there at noon, there was a box next to the bridge for sharing hiking sticks. That thoughtfulness mirrored the community I observed along the way.

hard to imagine but this little pocket of awesomeness is so removed from everything else, it's hard to imagine you are in San Diego. Go here after work (before the time changes) and you'll be so happy you did.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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