A tale of two trails: Double Peak in San Marcos pulls double duty-San Diego UT

Sunset at Double Peak Park

Image by jimmsgi via Flickr

BY DOUG WILLIAMS-San Diego Union Tribune

Double Peak Trail in San Marcos draws mountain bikers as well as hikers.

SAN MARCOS — In literary terms, the trip up Double Peak can be told in two ways.

There is the novel, and then there is the short story.Preview

The long version makes for a nice morning or afternoon outing up Double Peak Trail — just one piece of the city of San Marcos’ extensive trail system — that ends at the 1,644-foot summit.

At 5 miles round trip, starting from Discovery Lake Park, the trail is long enough and steep enough for a good workout, but also family-friendly enough that almost all ages can do it – with a few rest stops, perhaps.

For those who live nearby, it’s a release valve.

It’s a trail Brad Freese of San Marcos says he tries to do “at least once a week.” I enjoy it,” Freese said, pausing as he headed uphill on a recent late afternoon. “It’s nice to be 10 minutes from home and essentially have the chance to get out on a trail, out in the open, without having to go out to the Cuyamacas or someplace like that. It’s very nice.”

The trail begins at Discovery Lake, where hikers – and mountain bikers – take off on a wide path that crosses a spillway bridge and then climbs steadily toward the new hillside homes of the Stone Canyon development.

Here, the way is paved and you hardly feel as if you’re headed into the wilds, but the views — looking back down on the little lake and new homes — are immediately rewarding.

After following the signs through a small section of the housing development, you’ll come out the other side onto a well-groomed dirt track. Follow the trail signs as you head higher on switchbacks cut into hills covered with such plants as manzanita, scrub oak, a few remaining wildflowers and coyote bush.

Below, built into canyons, you’ll see red-tile roofs and blue backyard pools of the new development, a contrast of colors against the dry, wild vegetation of browns and light greens.

But remember to keep your eyes on the trail. Even though you may not feel like you’re out in the wilds, critters are about. As I focused on a roadrunner up ahead on the trail, I nearly stepped on a rattlesnake. Be careful out there.

Eventually, about a half-mile from the top — as hikers pass through a gate that carries a sign warning of recent mountain lion sightings — the dirt trail intersects with a paved, two-lane road. And it’s here where the short-story version of Double Peak is unveiled. You find out you could have driven to the top.

The long story: A 2.5-mile uphill walk.

The short story: A quick drive from San Elijo Road on the other side of the mountain to Double Peak Drive to Double Peak Park. READ MORE VIA SD UT

 

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