Double Peak from San Elijo Road (San Marcos)


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  • Location: 102 San Elijo Road, San Marcos, CA. From Highway 78, take the Twin Oaks Valley Road exit (13) and head south for 2.1 miles. Just as the road bends to the west and becomes San Elijo Road, look for the Ridgeline Trail Head parking lot, across from the school.
  • Agency: City of San Marcos
  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 500 feet
  • Suggested time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Best season: All year but hot during the summer
  • Dogs: Allowed on leash (exercise caution on warm days; some terrain may be difficult on their paws)
  • Cell phone reception: Good
  • Water: Available at restrooms and water fountains at the trail head and peak
  • Restrooms: Full restrooms available at the trail head and peak
  • Camping/backpacking: None
  • More information: Ridgeline Trail Head Yelp page here; Map My Hike report (alternate route) here
  • Rating: 5

Updated June 2018

Though its height of 1,644 feet might not turn any heads, Double Peak offers excellent views on clear days, making it a popular destination among local hikers. The peak can be reached via Discovery Lake or by the short though adventurous route described below. (It can also be reached by driving, but what fun is that?)

Begin by following the Lakeview Trail from the parking lot. The trail heads slightly downhill, following the ridge and providing views of San Marcos. If visibility is good, the Palmoar Mountains can be seen in the distance. Despite the nearby road and houses, this stretch of the trail is pleasantly quiet. The trail weaves in and out of some oak chaparral before reaching an unsigned junction with a use trail 0.6 mile from the start.

Now comes the challenging portion of the hike. The use trail climbs steeply, gaining about 100 feet in 0.1 mile to reach a paved road. Turn left and follow the paved road a few yards to another unsigned use trail, this one gaining 250 feet in 0.3 mile to Double Peak Park. A use trail leads to the smaller, eastern summit while a more established trail gets you to the western peak. Here, you can sit at a picnic table and enjoy a 360-degree view which, given good visibility, can extend to the ocean to the west and the Cuyamacas to the east. Also prominent in the east are Iron Mountain and Mt. Woodson and, much closer, Frank’s Peak and the KOWF-FM radio towers.

After enjoying the view, retrace your steps, exercising caution on the steep and loose descent.

Lake View Trail, San Marcos, CA
Ridgeline Trail Head
Double Peak, San Marcos, CA
Approaching Double Peak from the Lake View Trail
Double Peak, San Marcos, CA
Start of the lower use trail
Double Peak, San Marcos, CA
Approaching the service road
Double Peak, San Marcos, CA
Start of the use trail to the peak
Double Peak, San Marcos, CA
Looking southeast from Double Peak
Double Peak, San Marcos, CA
Rock stack on Double Peak
Double Peak, San Marcos, CA
Starting the descent

Text and photography copyright 2018 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.

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One thought on “Double Peak from San Elijo Road (San Marcos)

  1. I stopped off to check out this park on my way to a meeting in La Jolla. It’s easy to get to from the freeway, has free parking right outside the gate (gate closes at 8 PM this time of year), nice playground, clean restrooms. All of the trailheads are marked “Hiking Trail.” Duh. Friendly ranger gave me a map. Worth a visit if you’re in the area.

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