||Area C-2, Trip 13, pp. 69-70, 2-3 alternate hikes, 3-7 miles roundtrip, with a possible total elevation gain/loss of 1900'. For those carpooling from San Diego, we'll meet there around 10:30 to start the hike. To get there from San Diego, take 163 north (It turns into I-15.) towards Escondido. Take the San Pasqual Road Exit and head northeast, following the signs to the San Diego Wild Animal Park. Pick up Highway 78 east, go 5.6 miles past the San Diego Wild Animal Park entrance (at 5.3 miles, you'll pass the turnoff on the south side of the road.), pull off into the parking area on the north side of the road. It comes up fast, so watch for it as you're driving up the hill. Check out our Maps section for more directions on how to get there.
A 13-mile network of hiking trails was opened here in the fall of 1991. On a clear day, the coast-to-mountain views can be stunning on these trails. We'll start from the parking lot on the north side of Highway 78, 5.6 miles east of the San Diego Wild Animal Park entrance. From there, we'll hike 0.3 miles down the trail to Santa Ysabel Creek, which lies only 200' below. There, we'll take a break amid oaks and sycamores and check out the creek, before returning up the trail to the cars. Then we'll drive the 0.3 miles west, back to the parking lot on the south side of the highway, then pick up the trailhead. We'll zigzag 0.6 miles to the first marked trail junction, and head up the right branch for a relatively easy climb to a 1550-foot knoll. With luck, from here we'll have a good ocean view.
Depending on how things go and how fast we cover the first trail, some hikers may opt to proceed up a more rugged trail on the left branch. It's about 3 times the length of the first trail, and, after dropping down into a spooky ravine, ascends to a 1755-foot viewpoint for another view to the west. Continuing straight on the trail, leads to a 1635-foot "bump" on a ridge half a mile northeast. That's where you get a really stupendous view of upper San Pasqual Valley, a slice of ocean horizon in the west, and the distant mountains to the east.