San Diego Trail Tramps - Scheduled Hikes for 2011

  Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve to Olivenhain Reservoir

Date: September 18th, 2011  09:00 AM -  05:00 PM
Hike Group:
Info. URLs: Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve website, Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve Trail Map
EFRR Brochure with map and suggested hikes, Friends of Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve Brochure
The Escondido Creek Conservancy, Weather Forcast for the Elfin Forest Rec Reserve area
The 784 acre Reserve is located at 8833 Harmony Grove Road, Escondido, CA 92029, in the rural community of Elfin Forest, North County San Diego, west of I-15 and south of Highway 78.
Directions: Directions to the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve (EFRR)
Pay particular attention on how to get there. It's easy to get lost! Mapquest the above address for more details.
This proposed hike is 7.6 miles, out and back, 4 hrs. round trip, elevation gain/loss: 1500', moderately strenuous, marked trails/obvious routes, easy terrain, great views. For more detailed info. on the area, refer to "Afoot and Afield in San Diego County" by J.Schad, 4th Edition, Chapter 7, Coastal Strip and Foothills: Escondido, Trip 8, pp.79-81.

The Reserve offers approximately 11 miles of hiking, mountain biking, equestrian trails, primitive picnic areas, and scenic mountain viewing points. In addition, the natural beauty of the Reserve includes such native plant communities as oak riparian, oak woodland, coastal sage scrub and chaparral. (Chaparral is sometimes referred to as an "elfin forest".) Reserve hours are from 8:00 a.m. to approximately 30 minutes before sunset.

March through October is snake season! Elfin Forest is home to red diamond, southern Pacific, and speckled rattlesnakes. Pets traveling off-trail are the most susceptible to bites. Please make extra efforts to keep your dog on trail and in view. Dogs are allowed on leash, on weekends. Please review the Reserve rules & regulations for more details on weekdays.

Poison oak is very common within 20 yards of either side of Escondido Creek. The oils that cause severe skin irritation remain on the leaves even after the plant has died. Therefore, it is very important to always use caution when in the vicinity of the creek.

If hikers leave from the Hillcrest carpool at 9:00 am, they'll arrive at EFRR about 10:00 and can browse thru the new Elfin Forest Interpretive Center until about 10:30, then start hiking.

Above: Elfin Forest Interpretive Center, designed by renowned local artist James Hubbell.

The "Way Up Trail" provides the only, short but steep, access via switchbacks, to the mesas and ridgelines surrounding the reservoir. 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.

Read more at Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve Trail
Great Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve Photo Gallery!


Google Earth:
Google Earth streams the world over wired and wireless networks enabling users to virtually go anywhere on the planet and see places in photographic detail. This is not like any map you have ever seen. This is a 3D model of the real world, based on real satellite images combined with maps, guides to restaurants, hotels, entertainment, businesses and more. You can zoom from space to street level instantly and then pan or jump from place to place, city to city, even country to country.

Below is the Google Earth .kmz file for the hike itself. To preview a 3D model of this actual hike in Google Earth, right click on the link and save the file to your desktop. Then double click that desktop file and it should launch Google Earth if you already have Google Earth installed on your computer. (If you do not have the free Google Earth application already installed, first go to

After Google Earth launches, scroll down to the bottom of the "Places" column on the left and locate the hike file "ElfinForestRecReserve.kmz" in the "Temporary Places" folder. Click the side arrow to the left of "ElfinForestRecReserve.kmz" to expose the "ElfinForestRecReserve Hike" tour file. Then select that file, and click on the triangular "Play Tour" button just below and to the right of it. Enjoy!


If you'd like to check out the elevation profile of the hike, just right-click the "ElfinForestRecReserve" file and select "Show Elevation Profile". Move your cursor over the profile and watch the arrow move along the loop hike to determine the altitude at any point.