This past weekend my Fiance and I did a 5.83 mile hike around Daley Ranch in Escondido California just outside of San Diego. The parking lot for the trail head can be found here.
We ended up going in the afternoon so we dealt with temperatures in the high 80's but on the plus side it was not crowded at all. Based on the parking lot it looked like everyone was there early in the morning and everyone was leaving as we arrived. While hiking we basically had the trail all to ourselves!
Daley Ranch Hiking Map and Elevation Profile
My Caltopo Daley Ranch Map can be viewed and downloaded here.
Daley Ranch Trail Guide
The start of the Daley Ranch hike has a beautiful entrance with a sweet sign over the trail head.
Leaving the parking lot you go right up the dirt path which quickly turns to pavement that steadily winds upward. This paved road you start on has a couple dirt off shoots trails that you can take but we stayed on the pavement at first.
The pavement eventually started going slightly down hill and at this point we took our first offshoot dirt trail which came up on our right to go explore and take a look at a small lake.
"Hiking" on pavement is not exactly my favorite type of hiking so I was happy we found the offshoot dirt trail which was nice and narrow and made me feel a bit more away from civilization. Also the lake was really nice to see in southern California, its really nice to see water features not dried up!
For the rest of the hike we were on dirt until the very end, and the trail continues on into the Daley Ranch where you can check out some local history. We didn't stop and take in the history much on this hike.. did I mention it was pretty hot out? Actually the Ranch would be a great place to stop for a break on a hot day as there is lot of shade there and also some picnic tables.
You can see the nice shady trees here as we approach the actual Ranch buildings:
As we passed through the ranch we briefly stopped to check out to sheds that were under going some restoration and than quickly continued on.
Once through the ranch we stayed right at the next to forks in the trail and then began to hit a little bit more of some steeper trail. Once you go up this shorter section of steep trail, it levels off pretty quickly and you are awarded for your efforts with another cool mini lake.
This next section is pretty flat but beautiful, as you approach the base of Stanley Peak. As you get closer and closer to the base of Stanley Peak you will see an old water tank which is a great land mark part of the way up Stanley Peak.
The high point behind the water tank in the picture above is Stanley Peak, which is our ultimate goal on this hike for some beautiful views.
The hike up Stanley Peak is not to rough, its basically 2 and half switch backs to get to the top and is never to steep. Despite that we still took a nice little water break part of the way up to enjoy the view of the water tank from another angle.
For not being that high of a peak or that challenging of a climb to the top, Stanley Peak is one of the best small peaks I have hit in the San Diego Area. It has some really cool rocks you can climb onto and the the view is really fantastic!
After a handful of fun photography on the top of Stanley Peak we started back down the trail and we kept our eyes on the water tank. We were looking for a small offshoot trail on our left that would take us right up the the water tank on the way back and turn our hike into a loop so we would not be repeating much of the trail.
My map only showed one side trail to the water tank which is the trail we took, but there was one we passed up, but both run into the same point and bring you to the base of the water tank.
One complete side not on this trip, I was testing out a backpack that I sewed myself, so I made Rachel take a picture of it out in the wild:
If you are interested in the backpack you can see how I built it here.
Back on the trail we continued towards the water tank which looked larger and larger the closer we got to it.
For perspective Rachel stood next to it here:
This was the last picture I took on our hike as we meandered our way back to the parking lot towards our car. The hike continued to be beautiful and we felt so far away despite being pretty much in Escondido. WE stopped for a brief bit on the way down as we watched a fox who was staring at us from the top of a hill. We eventually got bored of each other and went our separate ways.
Rachel and I were actually walking so fast on the way back that we missed the trail we were originally planning to take back to the car but there was another trail that pretty much went the same direction so we didn't have to turn around.
Overall this was a fantastic local hike, and I would definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a a few hours out in nature with some fantastic views and scenery.