Hiking the Coast to Crest Challenge

The Coast to Crest Trail, from Del Mar to the summit of Volcan Mountain, will be the backbone of the San Dieguito River Park once it’s completed, although you can currently hike along 45 miles of the planned 70-mile trail. With accessible trailheads in Del Mar, in the Del Dios Gorge, at Lake Hodges, and in the San Pasqual Valley, you can take your pick from trails that are short and flat to long and strenuous.

Stops along Lake Hodges, Bernardo Bay or San Pasqual Valley are incomplete without a visit to the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead. Located at the Sunset Dr. staging area in Escondido, the 1870 adobe is among the oldest structures in San Diego County and is a California state point of historical interest.

Called the Rattlesnake Viewpoint because native rocks were used to create a rattlesnake-shaped seating area and viewpoint, this spot is situated directly on the Coast to Crest Trail just west of the Lake Hodges Dam and offers sweeping vistas of Del Dios Gorge and an up-close view of the dam architecture.

Spanning Lake Hodges just west of I-15, the David Kreitzer Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge is the world’s longest stressed-ribbon bridge. An impressive combination of architecture, engineering and art, it is the epicenter of an international flyway for migratory birds where exotic species can be seen.


Located directly off the Coast to Crest Trail, Raptor Ridge provides an ideal view of the San Pasqual Valley, appealing to hikers as well as to the valley’s eagles, hawks, vultures and falcons. Cyclists can experience the thrill of downhill speed on the single-track segments of this trail.

Oak woodlands, native grasslands, and fields of wildflowers surround the 3,600 acres of the Santa Ysabel Preserves. More than 13 miles of multi-use trails wind through the various habitats in this scenic mountain preserve, with the Santa Ysabel creek running along the reserve’s entire northern boundary.

Volcan Summit, created by volcanic upthrust along the San Andreas Fault, provides breathtaking views of the San Dieguito watershed on one side and the Anza-Borrego desert on the other. It is also home to over 30 plant communities, 45 mammal species and 150 types of birds.

The trek from Santa Fe Valley, through Del Dios Gorge to Lake Hodges, over the David Kreitzer Pedestrian Bicycle Bridge past historic Sikes Adobe, and through San Pasqual Valley are 23 continuous miles of pure heaven right in our own backyard.

Trails at Volcan Mountain lead to the summit, rewarding hikers with amazing views of the Anza Borrego State Park, Cuyamaca State Park, Cleveland National Forest and the San Dieguito and San Diego River watersheds, including downtown San Diego and the Pacific Ocean.

All of this is made possible by the fantastic work of the team at San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy and their related organizations. SDRVC also offers recreational programming for families including Furry Friends Hikes for dog owners, Exec Treks with the Conservancy’s Executive Director Trish Boaz, Yoga at the Birdwing Open Air Classroom, Full Moon Hikes that are easy, family-friendly hikes and Trails & Ales: a popular hiking series pairing two of the best things about North County! Exploring Our Sense of Place is a unique eight-month program for people really looking to deepen their knowledge of the River Park and build a personal connection with nature and their surroundings. You can support their mission to complete the Coast to Crest Trail by becoming a member for $35 a year, volunteering at a work party or attending any of their guided hikes and other events hosted in the River Park. SDRVC.org