Elfin Forest Trail

Escondido, CA
Share review on:

Thanks! How would you describe the trail and its activities?

Join the largest community of outdoor enthusiasts.

Get Started

Upgrade to Pro

Unlimited access to National Geographic TOPO! & Trails Illustrated Maps

Learn More »

Elfin Forest Trail is a 6.8 mile out and back trail located near Escondido, California that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, mountain biking & walking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve
1966 Olivenhain Rd.
Encinitas
(760) 753-6466

Icon_


N/A:

2 Completed 2 Reviews

Great trail. Moderate difficulty. Plenty of variation with side trails and scenic overlooks. Came in mid-morning and main parking and overflow were full so several of us had to park on the highway. Not much shade after the first mile - strongly recommend plenty of water and sun block in the summer. Water and restrooms are available at the trailhead and the 1.5 mile point. Overall, one of the better trails I have been on in SoCal.

Person_placeholder


N/A:

3 Completed 3 Reviews

I absolutely loved this trail. We hiked up to the Lake Hodges Overlook. it was gorgeous. it ended up being just over 8 miles. This is definitely a hike I would do again and recommend to others. It is better to do this hike early to avoid too much sun. There is not much shade and with the summer months approaching, the heat in Escondido can be unbearable.

Person_placeholder

Lianda Ludwig

N/A:

1 Completed 1 Reviews

This is a pretty spot with water running. You have to cross the creek, so if you're not too sure on your balance, bring a walking stick if you don't want to get wet. Dogs are allowed, and unfortunately, some people let their dogs bark incessantly- just when you want to get some peace and quiet!
Didn't go "The Way Up", but took the Botanical Trail. It still had quite a bit of uphill. A nice, not too far away place to be in nature.

Picture?width=50&height=50


N/A:

2 Completed 2 Reviews

Beautiful view, hiked this once. Long but semi moderate hike. Not too steep, and very leisurely.

Person_placeholder

Megan M

N/A:

5 Completed 1 Reviews

Awesome views at the top are worth the endless switchbacks up.

Person_placeholder


N/A:

19 Completed 6 Reviews

I've done this hike a number of times and taken various branches from the top. Main thing to remember is that it's hot with little shade. The trail is very steep going up with a billion and one tight switchbacks. It's short lived though and worth the work. It's an excellent training trail that's free to all :-) If you aren't interested in the climb the garden trail is very beautiful, great for the young and the seasoned.

Icon_c6ab93526299dd8bb75f6cc5cd5b0854


N/A:

10 Completed 8 Reviews

I did this hike on a tuesday morning with my husband. the elevation gain is relatively quick on the way up trail, but I wouldn't say its as difficult as mt woodson. we printed up a map from home before we went out, as I've learned from my first few hikes that there is almost always more than one trail to go and explore. we ended up checking out most the trails and hiked a little over 8 miles total. when we got to the overlook of lake Hodges we send up our hammock and relaxed for a few minutes before going on witch trail and heading back. the trail itself is very well maintained and there are plenty of places to take a minute and rest if necessary. I definitely recommend doing the botanical trail on the way out and checking out the creek viewing area. it was a really peaceful way to end the hike and relax before leaving. when you are on the way up trail you may hear a little noise from the construction nearby but its not so bad. nice hike, but I don't know if it has enough to bring me back for more trips.

Icon_


N/A:

6 Completed 6 Reviews

It was my first time at Elfin Forest and I really enjoyed what ended up being a 7.2 mile hike. The Way Up Trail starts at a pretty creek. This section is moderately difficult and will get your heart pumping. There are a few benches on the way which makes for a good place to catch your breath and enjoy the view. There happens to be a lot of construction in the nearby area which was a bit noisy and there are quite a few power lines. It didn't bother me too much but if you're looking to get completely submerged in nature this might be a hindrance. Its good to know that the this trail is fairly busy too. Once you get to the top there are toilets and a picnic area overlooking Olivenhain Dam and Reservoir.

We keep hiking to Lake Hodges Overlook Loop. I liked this area the most. We were nearly the only people on the trail at this point. In contrast to the Way Up Trail the trails on the east side of the reservoir are full of moderately challenging but short ups and downs. I thought this area near the reservoir was very pretty. We saw what we think was a coyote. Pretty cool.

I'm glad that we checked out this trail. I will probably keep exploring other area trails before heading back to this one. That said I wouldn't dissuade anyone for giving this one a go.

Icon_


N/A:

8 Completed 2 Reviews

Love this hike it is a beautiful place. Grate place for a couple nice rest areas and lots of options on where to go.

Picture?width=50&height=50


N/A:

1 Completed 1 Reviews

PQ canyon is a peaceful, relaxing trail that bares a chance of encountering nature in its own element. You're certain to enjoy the landscapes while getting some fresh air and exercise. Use this place but respect that it's for everyone and keep it clean

Support