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Double Peak — San Marcos

Double Peak/Discovery Lake hike begins here.
Double Peak/Discovery Lake hike begins here.

Something is blooming nearly every month of the year on this network of trails to and around Double Peak in San Marcos’ Cerro de la Posas Hills. About 80 percent of the “trails” are fire or service roads, usually paved and up to ten feet wide. The main exception is the Secret Trail, a well-maintained footpath through the chaparral.

The trail to the peak crosses Discovery Lake dam and proceeds rather sharply up a hillside toward a collection of mini-mansions after hiking about 0.5 mile. The trail continues through the housing development, paralleling Stonewall Street, for 0.1 mile. When Stonewall turns right, the trail goes left, leaving the houses behind as it passes a large water tank, then resumes the climb up the mountain. At 1.15 miles into the hike, there is a brass plaque set in concrete, marking the start of the San Elijo Hills 10K. The trail forks here. Go right to take the direct route to the peak. However, the trail to the left, known as the Lakeview Trail, is more interesting. It is almost level as it contours around the chaparral-covered ridges, providing views of South Lake in one of the canyons below and of the more distant California State San Marcos, set in the rapidly urbanizing city of San Marcos.

The “single track” Secret Trail begins off to the right 0.5 mile after leaving the San Elijo Hills 10K plaque. It is steep for a short distance as it goes up a ridge, but then it reaches the end of the paved road heading to the left. The Secret Trail continues to the right from this point. It is well maintained and easily navigated as it passes through tall ceanothus, scrub oaks, and mission manzanita. In many places the chaparral arches over the trail, creating a shady tunnel through the mini forest. The Secret Trail ends just below Double Peak Drive, a newly built road that leads from the community of San Elijo Hills to Double Peak Park. To reach the peak, follow the trail that parallels this road for about 0.25 mile. On a clear winter day the ocean view from the peak may include Catalina Island, while to the north the snowcapped summits of the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains may be visible.

After taking in the remarkable views from the peak, go 0.5 mile back down the trail alongside Double Peak Drive, past the Secret Trail, to another trail going off to the right. After going less than 0.1 mile on this trail, there is a dirt path leading off to the right. This leads back down to Discovery Lake and, if you take it, you will have gone 4.6 miles when you reach the lake. However, you could take the trail leading off to the left, known as the Ridgeline Trail, that follows the spine of the ridge to the microwave relay towers. This will add another 3 miles, out and back, to the hike. Take this side trail if your main goal is exercise. It is popular with mountain-bikers and runners as well as walkers. Look for mariposa lilies, roadrunners, and meadowlarks as the trail passes construction for a new San Elijo Hills development.

Canyoneers are San Diego Natural History Museum volunteers trained to lead interpretive nature walks that teach appreciation for the great outdoors. For a schedule of free public hikes:

http://www.sdnhm.org/education/naturalists-of-all-ages/canyoneer-hikes/

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Double Peak/Discovery Lake hike begins here.
Double Peak/Discovery Lake hike begins here.

Something is blooming nearly every month of the year on this network of trails to and around Double Peak in San Marcos’ Cerro de la Posas Hills. About 80 percent of the “trails” are fire or service roads, usually paved and up to ten feet wide. The main exception is the Secret Trail, a well-maintained footpath through the chaparral.

The trail to the peak crosses Discovery Lake dam and proceeds rather sharply up a hillside toward a collection of mini-mansions after hiking about 0.5 mile. The trail continues through the housing development, paralleling Stonewall Street, for 0.1 mile. When Stonewall turns right, the trail goes left, leaving the houses behind as it passes a large water tank, then resumes the climb up the mountain. At 1.15 miles into the hike, there is a brass plaque set in concrete, marking the start of the San Elijo Hills 10K. The trail forks here. Go right to take the direct route to the peak. However, the trail to the left, known as the Lakeview Trail, is more interesting. It is almost level as it contours around the chaparral-covered ridges, providing views of South Lake in one of the canyons below and of the more distant California State San Marcos, set in the rapidly urbanizing city of San Marcos.

The “single track” Secret Trail begins off to the right 0.5 mile after leaving the San Elijo Hills 10K plaque. It is steep for a short distance as it goes up a ridge, but then it reaches the end of the paved road heading to the left. The Secret Trail continues to the right from this point. It is well maintained and easily navigated as it passes through tall ceanothus, scrub oaks, and mission manzanita. In many places the chaparral arches over the trail, creating a shady tunnel through the mini forest. The Secret Trail ends just below Double Peak Drive, a newly built road that leads from the community of San Elijo Hills to Double Peak Park. To reach the peak, follow the trail that parallels this road for about 0.25 mile. On a clear winter day the ocean view from the peak may include Catalina Island, while to the north the snowcapped summits of the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains may be visible.

After taking in the remarkable views from the peak, go 0.5 mile back down the trail alongside Double Peak Drive, past the Secret Trail, to another trail going off to the right. After going less than 0.1 mile on this trail, there is a dirt path leading off to the right. This leads back down to Discovery Lake and, if you take it, you will have gone 4.6 miles when you reach the lake. However, you could take the trail leading off to the left, known as the Ridgeline Trail, that follows the spine of the ridge to the microwave relay towers. This will add another 3 miles, out and back, to the hike. Take this side trail if your main goal is exercise. It is popular with mountain-bikers and runners as well as walkers. Look for mariposa lilies, roadrunners, and meadowlarks as the trail passes construction for a new San Elijo Hills development.

Canyoneers are San Diego Natural History Museum volunteers trained to lead interpretive nature walks that teach appreciation for the great outdoors. For a schedule of free public hikes:

http://www.sdnhm.org/education/naturalists-of-all-ages/canyoneer-hikes/

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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