Jack Creek Meadow Loop (Daley Ranch)
- Location: 3024 La Honda Drive, Escondido, CA. From I-15, take the El Norte exit and head east for 3.1 miles. Turn left on La Honda and drive a mile to the dirt parking lot.
- Agency: City of Escondido
- Distance: 5.6 miles
- Elevation gain: 500 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 2.5 hours
- Best season: Year round (hot during the summer)
- USGS topo map: Valley Center
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield: San Diego County
- Recommended gear: sun hat
- More information: Description on the park homepage here; trip descriptions here and here; Daley Ranch Yelp page here
- Rating: 6
The historic ranch house is the most popular site in Daley Ranch Park. Not as many visitors explore the 3.2-mile Jack Creek Meadow Loop, which starts just beyond the ranch and travels through open fields and groves of oaks.
To reach the loop, follow the main paved road uphill, climbing about 200 feet in 0.4 miles (the only significant climbing of the entire hike.) You descend into a pleasant oak grove, passing the two ends of the Boulder Loop and the East Ridge Trail, arriving at the ranch house in 1.1 miles. The house is only open sporadically, but you can still enjoy looking at the various old buildings or sit for a break at a picnic table before continuing onto the loop.
The Jack Creek Loop begins shortly past the ranch. It can be hiked in either direction. The eastern leg features slightly more climbing and less shade, so you might want to get it out of the way first. To do so, head right (stay straight as the Sage Trail branches off), and follow the trail north into a valley reminiscent of Bell Canyon in Caspers Wilderness Park.
A bench beneath an impressive oak tree makes a good rest spot. Continue north, making a few small ascents and descents, curving west at the end of the loop. A fence marks the park boundary; an abandoned car sits on the other side.
Heading back, your work is easy as the trail descends gradually back into the meadow. You return to the start of the loop, where you can retrace your steps along the paved Ranch House Road or perhaps explore some of the other trails in the park, such as the Boulder Loop or East Ridge.
Text and photography copyright 2014 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.