The independent student news site of San Marcos, California

The Cougar Chronicle

The independent student news site of San Marcos, California

The Cougar Chronicle

The independent student news site of San Marcos, California

The Cougar Chronicle

VIEWS WORTH THE CLIMB

IMPRESSIVE HIKES NEAR CAMPUS

MALLANE DRESSEL
PRIDE STAFF WRITER

Elfin Forest

Fifteen minutes from CSUSM, Parking: Free 8 a.m. to 30 minutes before sunset, 1,000-1,800 feet of elevation gain

The trails are located on the east side of the San Elijo Hills on the edge of San Marcos and extend into Escondido. Bathrooms, water, and the Interpretive Visitor Center are all located at the trailhead. The hike starts with a relatively strenuous switchback 1.5-mile climb after passing a calm stream. There are 11-14 miles of hiking trails that run into several designated overlooks. The overlooks provide sitting areas that allow visitors to take in the view of snowy mountains, the ocean, Lake Hodges and the San Elijo reservoir.

Daley Ranch

Twenty minutes from CSUSM, Parking: Free, 1,000-2,000 feet of elevation gain

This hiking area is located at the end of the Highway 78 in Escondido. The trailhead and parking are located right next to Dixon Lake. There are 15-24 miles worth of hiking trails that traverse across rolling open grass hills, hide under tree canopy, and have the occasional steep climb. It gets hot on this trail, so a hiker should carry extra water since there is no longer a fill up point at the ranch and avoid hiking in the middle of the day.

Calavera

Twenty minutes from CSUSM, Parking: Free, 400-1200 feet of elevation gain

The trailhead is located off College Blvd. toward Lake Blvd. on the east side of Carlsbad. There is no designated parking area, but plenty of street parking in the neighborhoods. There is only 4 miles worth of trail around the lake, but much more rolling over the backcountry hills and the 22 million year old volcanic plug. The plug, also referred to as Mt. Calavera, has signs of past mining that creates an awe-inspiring reaction when looking up at its large cut away face. The peak features a magnificent view of the ocean especially during sunset.

Mt. Woodson

Twenty-six minutes from CSUSM, Parking: $5 Oct. – April. Free on weekends and holidays, parking in overflow lot, 2,000-2,500 feet of elevation gain

The easiest and quickest way to get to the trail is by entering from Lake Poway Park. This trail is an out-and-back that accumulates to seven miles total. This well-marked trail begins with a mile of dirt road then narrows down quickly into tight and steep switchbacks littered with stone steps. At the top of the mountain, the enormous boulders and the infamous potato chip rock astonish visitors.

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