Favorite Trails in San Elijo Hills


One of my favorite places to hike is the Lake View Trail. It’s perfect for a quick hike with plenty of parking off San Elijo Road, just past the fire station, heading toward San Marcos. The parking lot is large, dirt, with restrooms, water fountains and picnic tables. One of the picnic tables is covered by a large canopy for shade. What a gift! The trail is dog-friendly, offering doggie bags along the way. Many trails in California don’t allow our furry friends to join us, but lucky for us, this one does.

This past Saturday we took the dogs with us for a quick hike in the sunshine. Starting at the trailhead, we read bulletins helpfully warning us of any dangers. One such warning was about mountain lions sighted in the area. The post advised us not to: “walk or ride alone, keep small children (and dogs) close to adults, if sighted, do not run away; back up slowly and give them their space, and call 911 to notify authorities where animal was last seen.”

A quick reference to National Geographic on our smart phone told us that the danger of spotting a mountain lion is slim.  Mountain Lions “usually hunt at night or during the gloaming hours of dawn and dusk,” and “statistics show that, on average, there are only four attacks and one human fatality each year in all of the U.S. and Canada.”

Good to know!

A helpful map showed us that the trail we were about to embark on was one of many of over 18 miles of trails that zigzag through San Elijo. We tightened our shoelaces and set off on the Lakeview Trail.

The trail is very well maintained. Wooden fences protect hikers from steep drops throughout, and the views are expansive. Immediately after embarking on the hike, we were treated to the sight of South Lake, nestled into the hills separating San Elijo from San Marcos. Its deep blue is an oasis in the warm browns, oranges and greens of our Mediterranean countryside. Beyond the lake, one of the new developments cropping up around San Marcos could be seen.

Quickly, the trail turns into a secluded path, shaded by brush and with wildflowers on the slopes above and below the trail. Red, white, purple and yellow wildflowers add dots of color along the way, giving beauty to the landscape.

Not all of the trail is shady, but good parts of it offer a reprieve from the sun. There aren’t too many steep climbs, either. For the most part, the trail dips and climbs lazily along the ridge. In this respect, it’s great for hikers of all ages and abilities. Rock lovers could spend a great deal of time oohing and ahhing over the unique formations visible in the side of the slope throughout.

Following the trail about a mile, you could end up on Double Peak Road. Using the sidewalks, a very steep climb alongside the road (not for the faint of heart!) will take you to the very top of the mountain and Double Peak Park, elevation 1644 feet. An easy drive will also get you there– make sure you bring your camera! Your efforts will be rewarded–there’s lots to do and see. Restrooms, a playground (which appears to be under construction) and even an amphitheater are available, with the very top of the peak offering 360 degree views spanning in all directions to Catalina Island, San Bernadino, San Jacinto and Palomar Mountains, the Encinitas Power Plant, Coronado Islands, and even Tijuana! There is a telescope and helpful map built into the ground to aid in your vision.

Satisfied at taking advantage of the beautiful weather and getting fresh air and exercise, we headed toward home.

The Lakeview Trail is open from sunrise to sunset. Parking is free. Described by the Official San Elijo Trail Guide, found here: “This trail is a soft-surfaced, moderate to difficult climb. It skirts the northeasterly edge of San Elijo Hills for a little over 1 mile. There are expansive views to South Lake and beyond. This trail connects the Discovery Lake Area with San Elijo Road.”

Happy Hiking!

Katie Beebe-San Elijo Life Staff Blogger

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