DISTANCE
1.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
255 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dog friendly

kid friendly

hiking

trail running

lake

views

waterfall

rocky

hiking
8 days ago

A great little loop right on the edge of the suburbs with hills, views, a lake and lots of options. Discovery lake is a great jumping off point for a whole series of hikes, but this is a nice, uncrowded loop that gives you a bit of everything - a nice appetizer loop for So Cal hikes! Pro Tip: Park over on Cima (road on upper left of trail) instead of Discovery Lake - lake parking gets slammed, especially on weekends. There is tons of room on the South Side of Cima. If you start here you can go clockwise and do a nice somewhat shaded wooded path over to discovery lake. Top off your water and head up the worst part of the trail (the paved path up to stoneridge way). it's just pretty steep and catches a lot of people off guard when they hit it fresh out of the parking lot. At the top of this climb, turn right up the nice vermiculite path along the back side of the housing community. (you could go left here and follow the path all the way to Discovery Peak.) The trail climbs to a decent overlook with views to the NE of the lake and endless new housing development in San Marcos (as well as lots of hills in the distance and the palomar college P. ) Along this path, one of the neighbors leaves out water for thirsty pets near the top of the climb. You'll note a little sign on the fence. Once you leave the lake there isn't much shade, so keep that in mind.
Once you've walked around the backside of Stoneridge community, you'll head West and into a fairly well traveled rocky single-track path that goes fairly steeply in parts back down to Cima. This is the part of the trail where you'll have wished you wore better shoes. If it does get too gnarly, there is a little offshoot about the first 1/3 of the way down that heads off to the left and down to Via Vera Cruz just above the gate to Stone Canyon. You can take this down and walk sidewalks the rest of the way back down to Cima. If you started from the lake, you can always do a nice cool down lap around the lake. Lots of friendly people and some areas with shade and benches. And if you play it right, the fountain and waterfall and the NW end of the lake could be flowing!

There is a cool little offshoot illustrated on the AllTrails map that goes NW just at the top of the road up from Discovery Lake. Narrow dirt singletrack witih tall brush goes up then down back to the end of Applewilde on the left (steep) or back down to the discovery loop horse trail on the right.