Double Peak from Discovery Lake
- Location: Discovery Lake Park, San Marcos, north San Diego County. From Escondido and points east, take Highway 78 to Twin Oaks Valley Road. Turn left on Twin Oaks Valley Road, go 0.8 miles and turn right on Craven Drive. Go 0.6 miles and turn left on Foxhall Drive. Go 0.2 miles to Discovery Lake Park and park in the lot. From Oceanside, take Highway 78 to San Marcos Blvd. Take a sharp right, go 0.3 miles and turn left onto Bent. Go a total of 0.7 miles (Bent becoms Craven), and turn right onto Foxhall, and drive 0.2 miles to the park.
- Agency: City of San Marcos
- Distance: 4.4 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,100 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (steepness, elevation gain, terrain)
- Suggested time: 2.5 hours
- Best season: November – May
- USGS topo map: Rancho Santa Fe
- Recommended gear: hiking poles; sun hat
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield San Diego County
- More information: Article here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 6
If you don’t mind hiking on service roads and residential streets, the trip to Double Peak from Discovery Lake is quite enjoyable, providing scenic views and a good workout. If the air is clear, you can see the San Bernardino and San Jacinto ranges; even if visibility is poor, you get a nearly aerial view of the San Marcos area (the university in particular). There are several other possible routes to Double Peak – including car – but as anyone who reads this blog knows, earning it by hiking is more fun.
From the south end of Discovery Lake Park, follow the service road around the western corner of the lake. Head right and uphill at the first fork (the left route leads around the lake, a pleasant walk if you have time.) Bear left at 0.4 miles and you arrive at the end of a residential street, Via Vera Cruz. Head uphill, following either the street or the dirt path along side it. At the end of the street, bear left onto the signed trail, and continue up the mountain.
At one mile, you reach a junction marked with a plaque indicating “San Elijo Hills Loop.” Take a hairpin turn to the right and continue your ascent. For the next half mile or so, the grade is pleasantly moderate; you also get a nice view of the canyon below.
At 1.6 miles, you reach a junction with a paved bike path. Turn left, and almost immediately, you arrive at Double Peak Drive. Take a hairpin turn to the left and begin your final ascent.
At 1.7 miles, you pass a trail heading off to the left (your return route, if you decide to do a loop.) Shortly afterward, you come to another trail heading sharply uphill. You can continue up the road if you’re not feeling up to the steep climb (as suggested by a sign placed here), but the single track is the quickest route to the top. In 0.2 miles – and 200 vertical feet – you’ll be on the summit of Double Peak, where several picnic tables make a nice place to sit and enjoy the view.
You can return via the same route for a 3.8 mile round trip, but to add scenic variety and challenge, try continuing on, through Double Peak Park and the amphitheater. Pick up the signed single-track trail and head downhill on a steep, rocky slope. Just before you reach a paved service road, the trail bends sharply to the left and heads back toward Double Peak Drive. This stretch of the trail passes through some pleasant chaparral, resembling the landscape of the Santa Monica Mountains at times.
At a clearing with a bench, take a left, head slightly uphill, make a few switchbacks and finally rejoin Double Peak Drive (2.8 miles from the start.) Turn right and head back down Double Peak Drive, retracing your steps to Discovery Lake.
Text and photography copyright 2013 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All
readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result
from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.