Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve Trail

Escondido, California 92025

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve Trail

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve Trail Professional Review and Guide

"The 750-acre Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve serves two purposes: water management and recreation. The newly constructed Olivenhain dam and reservoir within the reserve holds 8 billion gallons of water—an extra, temporary supply for the region in case an earthquake severs or damages aqueducts that transport water from Northern California. The water storage scheme also helps to regulate the local demand for electricity. At times of peak electrical energy usage, water released from the Olivenhain reservoir generates supplemental electricity as it falls toward Lake Hodges. During periods of lesser demand, often at night, water in Lake Hodges can be pumped back up the hill to replenish the supply in the Olivenhain reservoir."

More Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"The 800-acre Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve has 17 miles of multi-use trails. About 10 miles are open to and appropriate for mountain biking. The reserve encompasses a stretch of Escondido Creek in San Elijo Canyon, an oak valley and several surrounding ridges. What this means is that the riding is up and over the ridges, down and back out of the canyons and valleys, making for some steep climbing and descending. Trails surfaces are hard-packed, rutted, rocky and almost always technically challenging. This is not a place to take beginning riders."

"Delicate springtime flowers in this rugged terrain may surprise you. The Way Up Trail earned its namesake because of its continual uphill tread leading into the Equine Incline, which heads first down and then up, looping back to the Way Up Trail."

"The 784-acre Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve serves two purposes: water management and recreation. The Olivenhain Dam and Reservoir within the reserve holds nearly 8 billion gallons of water (24,000 acre-feet), providing an extra, temporary supply for the San Diego region in case an earthquake severs or damages aqueducts that transport water from Northern California. This capacity is estimated to be enough to meet the needs of 192,000 people for a year.

The water-storage scheme also helps regulate the local demand for electricity. At times of peak electrical energy usage, water released from Olivenhain and falling toward Lake Hodges below generates supplemental electricity. During periods of lesser demand, often at night, water in Lake Hodges can be pumped back up the hill to replenish the reservoir."

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve Trail Reviews

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3/21/2018
Great calorie burning hike. Very nice climb to the peak with a picnic area above the lake. Lots of trails to choose from with beautiful vistas. I recommend the botanical loop on the way back down it’s a nice path and goes through the creek to a nice water hole.
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9/23/2011
I was very excited to hit this trail early in the morning and get some good exercise. The climb up “The Way Up” trail was fantastic with a lot of rocks to negotiate. For the most part, the route was pretty easy to follow except that it stopped at the Lake Hodges Overlook. There is a Lake Hodges Overlook loop trail once you get there but the trail pretty much stops and you have to turn around. I was bummed, but still managed to get some great sights and a good burn. Word to the wise, check the Ranger maps before you hit the trail to see which trails have been closed and don’t just follow your Trails.com map..LOL
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6/4/2011
This trail no longer exists! The middle section is under the Olivenhain Reservoir. You can do a loop around the lake, but that involves trespassing through private property. Stick to the Equine Incline loop and the Lake Hodges Overlook Loop. Beautiful trail!
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12/1/2009
The way up trail is the only access and it is steep switchbacks. It gives you access to a wide range of much gentler trails at the higher mesa and views over Lake Hodges. This is a great trail for a morning workout. It is often busy with dogs, mountain bikes, and hikers.
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11/29/2009
As mentioned in other reviews, the "Way Up Trail" provides a short but steep access to the mesas and ridgelines surrounding the reservior. Though rocky at times, the trail is plenty wide and offers nice views of the Harmony Grove area as you climb. Once you arrive at the upper picnic grounds, you'll find water, restrooms, picnic tables and burgeoning shade trees. I imagine that in a few more years, the trees will finally provide shade that is much needed in the summer months. The entire area is well loved, fortunately not too much as of yet. The water district has done a great job of creating and maintaining a little gem of a hiking area in north county inland San Diego. It's worth your time to visit this place.
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11/16/2009
I walked the way up trail with a loaded hiking pack ( testing it out ) - it was a good amount of exercise up the steep grade. I encountered around 10 groups of people during the hike, so it is not too crowded considering the proximity to the city. This seems to be a popular trail for mountain biking.
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7/24/2009
Good hiking by San Diego standards. Short trails near entrance along a lush creek under live oak. No parking fee. Switchback ascent is well maintained, with a covered bench lookout 2/3s up and some benches under live oak near the reservoir.
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9/27/2008
Great Hiking. Steep grade in the Beginning. Rocky at times. Great Views. The creek crossing is nice.
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1/4/2008
it starts off with a bitch of a climb. good luck trying to pedal the whole way up. the decent is worth the climb though
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12/25/2001
Elfin is still a great ride if you head up to Mt. Israel via the technical and rocky drops and switchback climbs that head west from the ridge overlooking the parking lot. I drive all the way in from Riverside to climb this hill, and many local racers love the short but challenging pitches it presents. Urban sprawl and dam projects abound, but that's what happens when we are passive and think "other people" will attend the city hall meetings and pay attention to their local politics. Grag your ankles, people, because Sen. Barbara Boxer is heading south with her Wilderness Area reform bill, and that means no mo' mountain bikes.
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Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve Trail Photos

Trail Information

Escondido
Nearby City
Dog-friendly
Accessibility
7.6
Distance
1,500 feet
Elevation Gain
Out-and-back
Trail Type
Moderate
Skill Level
4 hours
Duration
November through May
Season
Views
Features
Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve
Local Contacts
USGS Rancho Santa Fe
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Nov 2018