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    Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve: Botanical Loop

    Escondido, California

    Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve Botanical Loop

    Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve: Botanical Loop Professional Guide

    Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

    "This well-maintained trail offers a quiet, easy loop that makes it perfect for any age. The “Botanical Trail Guide” published by reserve staff lends an educational element that makes this foray into nature even richer."

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    Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve: Botanical Loop Trail Trip Reports

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    La Habra, CA
    Explorer | 30 pts
    4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars
    Great challenging hike, the big mistake was starting at 3pm. Very hot and humid day along with the limited shade made it rough but we persevered. Made the trip and back in 3.5 hrs. Well worth the effort!
    Ladera Ranch, CA
    Explorer | 40 pts
    5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars
    This hike was absolutely beautiful! It was kind of busy as to be expected on a Sunday, but not definately not crowded and didn't take away from the views along the trail and at the peak. Prepare yourself if you are out of shape because you will be exhausted, but the views of the lake and the magnificent boulders and vegetation make up for it. It took me 2.5 hours but I chose to jog back down the mountain (when possible) to make things exciting ;)
    Santa Susana, CA
    Adventurer | 210 pts
    4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars
    Did this hike at 6:30AM, it was a cool day so we did it in just over 2 hours (RT). Could'nt see much but it was a hard yet envigorating hike.
    Cleveland, OH
    Pathfinder | 180 pts
    5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars
    I did this hike on the first hot day of the season; it was about 80 degrees F inland and SUNNY! I'm glad I brought a ton of water, because this is a hard hike. It has an elevation change of 2300 ft to summit, with an out-and-back total of about 7 miles. The physical exertion is greatly rewarded by the awesome views along the path and at summit. It was a fairly busy trail (I would pass people every 10-15 minutes), but it did not feel crowded and touristy; it's a hard enough hike that a majority of people are not fit enough to complete it. It took me about 3-3.5 hours roundtrip, with about 20 minutes at the summit and many quick 1 min breaks throughout for water and pictures. It was a great experience for the scenery, as well as to prove to myself that I can handle that strenuous a hike :) 5 stars for the total experience of scenery, atmosphere, and difficulty.
    Carlsbad, CA
    Explorer | 30 pts
    5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars
    I did this hike this morning and had a wonderful time! This trail is deffinately a difficult one, but well worth the effort. In all, it took about 3 1/2 hours to complete given a 5 minute break 1/2 way to the summit and a 10 minute break at the top. I reccommend starting the trail early in the morning (7 or 8ish) to avoid the temperature heat up at about 10am. Also, bring plenty of water and a good snack (fruit or sandwich) for the top. You'll thank yourself when you get there! The trail is a steep and steady incline from the start, so pace yourself and take in the beautiful scenery. This really is a fun hike. I'll deffinately be going back up soon. :D
    Thorndale, PA
    Pathfinder | 110 pts
    5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars
    I did this trail twice last weekend and loved it. Do not underestimate it though. It is a tough 7+ miles. No water is available on the trail, so bring a lot! The lower part of the trail is well maintained, but the upper portions are not as well kept. The area took a hit during recent wildfires (2007) as almost all the tress are just charred remnants. As a result, you are climbing in the direct sun for most of the hike. As the guide mentioned, there is a tree at the top of the first peak. It seems be the only one that survived the fires and its shade provide a nice place to catch your breath. There are several smooth rocks where you can grab a seat. It is neat to see the wildflowers and plants already working their way back from the ashes.

    Another result of the fires is that many of the markers have been destroyed. After you start up the Mt Woodson portion of the trail, after a steep portion, you will reach an area that level off and the trail splits. The markers' burned remains are laying in the grass. If you want to go to the summit, go to the right. If you go to the left, that trail will work its way back down to rt 67. If you want to add a few miles to your hike, there are some great views along the trail to the left, but it doesn't loop around. You will have to back track to get back to the mountain trail or to Lake Poway.

    If you go to the right you are on the stretch run to the summit. Once you get up to the top, don't be afraid to wander around between the radio and cell towers. They are each fenced off individually, so you don't have to worry about going places where you would get in trouble. There are several great views from different angles. My favorite is through the 2nd paved area to the right. If you cut through there, there is a large smooth boulder that protrudes off the peak and provides plenty of room to sit down and take in the amazing views.

    Overall a great hike and a great workout.
    San Diego, CA
    Pathfinder | 80 pts
    5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars
    I hiked this a few times and loved it so much I turned it into a weekly trail run. This round trip route to the peak from the Lake Poway Recreation Area avoids the inconvenient car shuttle required for the one-way route between Lake Poway and the fire station on Route 67. The scenery on the Lake Poway side of the mountain is fantastic starting with bluff views of beautiful Poway and Ramona Lakes, then onto trails with curious twists and turns which at times meander through a canopy of trailside vegetation over head high offering nice shade, then you’ll see interesting garage-sized boulders scattered about. Closer to the peak a short (several hundred feet) marked side trail is worth taking to the Scenic Overlook, then return back to the main trail and continue up for a spectacular view on a clear day from the peak, if you can ignore the cell phone and microwave antennas everywhere at the top. Look also for the amazing car-sized “potato chip” flake of rock that seems to float horizontally in the air, cantilevered from only one end. Warning: do not underestimate this hike, avoiding it on hot days and always carrying at least 100 oz of water, plus bring a hearty snack in case you need a pick-me-up at the top due to energy depletion. Yes, rattlesnakes are sometimes about; keep your eyes on the trail ahead, looking to see what’s resting where you’ll be stepping. On weekends the Lake Poway Recreation Area charges about $4/vehicle for non-Poway residents, which can only be avoided by parking in the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve, located on Espola Road, about 0.6 mile north of Lake Poway Road. Savings come at a price because the hike into the Reserve to a right turn (marked) taking you to Lake Poway adds a non-trival ~1.5 miles + 300 vertical feet (each way) turning this 7-mile into a 10-mile hike over several thousand cumulative vertical feet. See you at the top!

    Trail Information

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    60 Hikes within 60 Miles: San Diego

    Trail Type
    Skill Level
    30 minutes
    Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve
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