Explore the most popular trails in Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

The park is open 8am to sunset.

Great trail// There were plenty of places to rest in between the hike. It’s better to start early as the trail is partially shaded. Met amazing dogs!!! Views are outstanding, totally worth it!!!

hiking
no shade
4 days ago

Make sure you go to the left at the trail head in the parking lot. If you don't hit an immediate incline, you're on the wrong trail. There is water available at the 1.6 mile point.

lovely trail. Very rocky but easy. beautiful @

Great trail. A bit rocky so tough on the toes when cruising down.

The elevation gain makes it not super easy. But, it's a fairly short trail. I would definitely try it again. Go early since there is no shade.

peaceful and quiet ! the water is also pretty clean considering that ppl take their horses to the edge. lots of new vegetation too and families of birds ! :-)

Went a little off path but still a great hike! Parking lot opens at 8am and filled up pretty quickly.

hiking
no shade
1 month ago

hiking
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

hiking
no shade
rocky
2 months ago

Great trail! For a nice walk. Creative and slightly challenging. in a good way.

I went late in the day with my son and dog. It was a fun hike. Lots of shade in the late afternoon, but still warm so bring plenty of water. We did the out and back as I didn’t want to try to explore any loops so close to the park closing time. The hike is steep on the way out, but it is very doable. I did have hiking boots on my dog and I was glad I did because there were fire ants everywhere, but I didn’t see any rattlesnakes so that was a good thing. This a great trail to hike.

Done this hike 20+ times I never get sick of it

running
no shade
rocky
3 months ago

Easy, well maintained trail. Plenty of loose rocks at some sections so protect your ankles! Once you clear the first mile or so of incessant climbing it gets very pretty and worth the effort. You'd have to clear a few ridges before the overlook point so you are not done yet, but at least you get to enjoy the reservoir along the way. The Lake Hodges overlook loop is a very narrow single-track with tight turns, which make it difficult to negotiate when running. Make sure to get back to your car before closing. The ranger was very diligent and if I had been a few minutes late, would have closed the gate on me.

Trail is generally in good condition. It can be hot and exposed on a warm and sunny day. Potable water is available at a couple places at the top. Good views.

hiking
no shade
3 months ago

This was a great hike! Not my favorite in the San Diego area, but definitely one to visit. BEWARE - You risk getting fined if you enter park before 8am. We ran into 'Ranger Rick' upon arrival, as we were crossing the closed fence, and he made it very clear we could have gotten in trouble for that. Once he let us off and as we were reviewing the trail, 'Ranger Rick' suggested the Equine trail (20 on the map) since we had the extra time. He did mention the length of the hike but failed to mention how incredibly hot the trail gets. I stupidly assumed that since we'd be near water it would be cooler. WRONG! TOO HOT FOR PUPS! I also would have hoped that 'Ranger Rick' would have noticed our 3 dogs and made sure to mention to steer clear of such a long/unshaded/hot trail. Very disappointing for a Park Ranger to make such a dangerous suggestion. Fortunately there are areas to fill water. Each of the stopping points offer shade but there is ZERO shade throughout the trail! I'm from the desert and I would say this trail is too hot for most already - especially after the 8am entry rule. Stick to the the Way up trail (7 on the map) and those along the Reservoir and you'll enjoy yourself. Definitely a hike to visit again in the Fall/Winter.

hiking
no shade
3 months ago

The views are amazing. The hike itself had wonderful steep hills and small picnic areas in rest.

mountain biking
4 months ago

Great Father's Day ride with a long time good friend since High School. My friend David is also a father and fantastic way to start of the day today.

Great trail. There is a water station just a bit past the top. Also there is a sign after the crest of the hill that states when you can take your dog off leash if it responds to voice commands. The trail going up the hill can be narrow in areas and the trail is mostly rocky going up the hill. The main parking lot is extremely tiny but they do have another parking lot close by.

hiking
no shade
rocky
4 months ago

I've hiked and biked this trail for years (way, way before AllTrails existed) and it's always been my "back-to-hiking" trail. It's a great workout and fast way to get in shape for much harder hikes around San Diego. Coming down the trail is a fun, rocky obstacle course. The trail is very well maintained--which is a good thing... But its great condition also ensures that it's crowded on any given day. The upside is that everyone hiking the trail is polite, considerate, and appears to just be having fun.

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