Take a hike: San Elijo Hills planned with trails in mind-Sign on San Diego


When San Elijo Hills, a 1,921-acre, 3,400-home master-planned development in San Marcos began in the mid-1990s, more than half of its acreage — 1,115 acres — was set aside as permanent open space.

When its first residents moved in during 2000, their neighborhood’s amenities included 18 miles of hiking/biking/horseback riding trails, that also welcome leashed dogs.

The highest peak in North County is reached on one of those trails, the Double Peak Trail, covered in this column recently.

I explored another trail in the San Elijo Hills system that afforded amazing views virtually 360 degrees around. I enjoyed a splendidly clear day in early November, and since that kind of weather is more common in fall and winter, grab your hiking stick and head for these hills.

I carved out a loop trail that began at the Sunset Trail at the northern edge of San Elijo Hills Park, a 19-acre community park that fronts the town square. This park is also the maintrailhead for that 18-mile network of trails.

Most of the trails are paved, and my route followed the hills and valleys of this canyon-dotted terrain, making for some semi-strenuous ups and downs.

Heading out on the Sunset Trail, School House Way Access, I descended a short way to a T-intersection, where I turned right (north), hiking down and up some canyons. You’ll see a huge power tower ahead, which is basically where I headed.

The Sunset Trail eventually hits a suburban street, where gates prohibit vehicular access to these trails. Take a right here, past another gate across the road, and walk a short way up to the continuation of the trail on your left, here made from decomposed granite.

This trail winds up, again heading for that power tower. Where the grade is so steep that a sign here asks bikers to walk their bikes uphill, an alternate switchback trail immediately to the right takes hikers up to the same spot more gradually.

As you look around, you can see the Batiquitos and Agua Hedionda lagoons, the power plant on the coast in Carlsbad, and even a faraway glimpse of high-rises that are likely in the UTC area.

At the top of that switchback, the trail hits another intersection: left to Lake San Marcos trails and right to the Ridgeline Connector Trail. I took the left to see the lake. READ MORE VIA SIGN ON SAN DIEGO

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