The Coast to Crest Trail is an ongoing project to create a major hiking network through San Diego. When completed it will run 70 miles from the coast at Del Mar to Volcan Mountain outside of Anza-Borrego Desert. Fun Diego Family is breaking this trail into sections. This article covers a 5-mile portion of the Coast to Crest Trail at Lake Hodges.
20175 Lake Dr, Escondido, CA 92029 or 12655 Sunset Dr. Escondido, CA 92025
Length: 5 miles, 10 miles out and back
Elevation: 100 ft gain and loss
Type: one-way point-to-point
The San Dieguito River Park was established in 1989 as a protected area that runs 55-miles from the beach at Del Mar to Volcan Mountain near Julian. It is a Joint Powers Authority consisting of the County of San Diego and the cities of Del Mar, Escondido, Poway, San Diego, and Solana Beach.
When completed the Coast to Crest Trail will run 70 miles through the heart of the park. As of 2019, 48 miles have been completed. There are another 20 miles of auxiliary trails that split off from the main trail. Our house is right near the portion of San Dieguito River Park next to Black Mountain Open Space Park.
The San Dieguito River Park website has some suggested hikes. Fun Diego Family is doing a complete series of hikes in this area that will follow some of these hikes. However, we are trying to break down the trail into segments of about 5-miles or less. This will keep any out-and-back hike under 10-miles.
This hike is part of what the San Dieguito River Park site describes as the Coast to Crest Trail at North Shore Lake Hodges, a 7.65-mile portion of the trail. To limit the hike to 5-miles we are only going from Sikes Adobe to Del Dios Community Park. What we do is take two vehicles and park a car at one end and drive the other car to the starting point. In this case, we started at Sikes Adobe.
Sikes Adobe is a historic house built around 1870. They are in the process of building this into a complete historic farmstead. Currently, tours are available on Sundays from 10:30 to 3:30. During this time there is also the North San Diego Farmer’s Market going on in the park.
There is plenty of free parking around both Sikes Adobe and on the other end, at Del Dios Community Park. This is a flat hike and is also very popular for mountain bikes. There are kiosks where you can pick up brochures and hiking guides.
The start of the hike will take you along the I-15 interstate a short distance until you reach Lake Hodges. At this point, the trail crosses under the freeway along the North Shore of Lake Hodges.
A short distance past the freeway you will come to the very cool David Kreitzer Lake Hodges Bicycle Pedestrian Bridge. This 1,000-footbridge was built in 2009 and crosses the lake. It is not part of the Coast to Crest Trail, but we have auxiliary hikes that go across the bridge.
In this hike, you continue on the trail as it goes along the lake border and loops around Bernardo Mountain. At about 1.5 miles (1.65 miles according to the map) you come to a turnoff for the Bernardo Mountain Summit Trail. Once again, this is a separate auxiliary trail off of the official Coast to Crest Trail. This is also where you have the option for checking out Felicita Creek where there are a bench and small picnic area.
Continue hiking along the main trail along the lake. After about another mile, the trail splits. If you go to your right it is a short uphill trail that meets back up with the main trail in a mile. We usually go to the left but either way comes to the same point.
At about 3.5 miles you will come to the Lake Hodges Boat Dock. This is a large parking area with restrooms and picnic tables. For a short distance, the trail follows along the road before it narrows for the final stretch.
Del Dios Community Park is 1.2 miles up the lake shore from the Boat Dock. Once again this is a large picnic area with plenty of parking and restrooms.
Right past Del Dios Community Park you definitely want to check out Hodgee. For many years there have been rumors that a Loch Ness type creature existed in Lake Hodges. This creature has been dubbed Hodgee.
In early 2018, local artist Ewing Mitchell unveiled a 16-foot sculpture of Hodgee carved from a eucalyptus tree stump. You can find out more about the legend of Hodgee here.
This total walk is just under 5 miles. Of course, if you are heading back from where you started it will be a full 10-mile hike.
The scenery changes quite a bit based on time of year and the amount of rainfall. We did this hike in early January, but came back in late April 2019 after a great deal of rainfall.
Lake Hodges is a great place for bird-watching It is an important stop for migratory birds on the Pacific Flyway. Springtime the lake level will be higher and you are likely to see more birds. In April we saw dozens of bird nests filled with eggs.
For more detailed hikes on the Coast to Crest Trail go here.