Switchbacks, Mule Deer and Horned Lizard Trail Loop

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Rancho La Costa Habitat Conservation Area

Switchbacks, Mule Deer and Horned Lizard Trail Loop is a 4.1 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Carlsbad, California that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and mountain biking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length4.1 miElevation gain692 ftRoute typeLoop
Dogs on leashHikingMountain bikingForestViewsWildlifeRocky
Description
Waypoints (0)

Offline map is recommended. Users have reported that can be difficult to know where to go without a map.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (422)
Photos (314)
Recordings (446)
Completed (552)
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Joseline Martin
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HikingBugsNo shadeOff trailRocky

Rocky terrain. Multiple rattlesnake so nearly crapped myself. Im from Illinois and don’t see these quite frequently. Nearly broke my ankle going downhill, keep your ankles locked.

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Jason Masten
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Hiking
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Jim Frisbee
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Hiking

Easy trail to start and turns moderate about half-way up with some rocky terrain. Narrow trail at times. Only saw a few mountain bikers and only one other hiker, but on a Thursday at 2pm, I was expecting (hoping) for there to be no traffic. Great views to the ocean all the way up and at the top.

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Jim Morgan
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Hiking

Lots of rocks. Soul mate was a slug.

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John Lawver
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Hiking

Nice day to do my local trail. Less bikes than last time because ebikes are now banned it seems. Great ocean and San Diego views along the way and from the top.

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Jennifer Sadoski
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Hiking

Lots of torn up trails from bikers.

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Victor Walle
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Road biking
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GT W
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HikingRocky

This is an "OK" trail. It is dusty, rocky, unshaded, and has poor signage. This trail is a combination of three trails and you hike it in that order: Switchbacks, Mule Deer, Horned Lizard. Staying on this particular AllTrails loop is difficult as there are several forks with no signage. But it isn't so easy to get lost as long as you aim for the summit, Denk Mountain. Difficulty is moderate minus with hiking poles not needed. 1L of water minimum. At the summit, there's a picnic table. Informational signposts warn of rattlesnakes and mountain lions. The highlight of the trail was seeing the same pair of men's underwear left on the trail that another reviewer mentioned.

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Rosey Reed
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Hiking

Good moderate trail, nothing too steep. Very dusty. Hardly any shade.

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Thomas Perroud
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Hiking

Amazing beautiful trail although someone left their boxer briefs mid trail.

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Brandon Nyanya
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Hiking
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Paul McNally
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Hiking
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John Scampone
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Hiking
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Tommy Lopez
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Hiking

Pretty and clean with a nice view at the top. Definitely helped to download the map beforehand.

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Julie Smith
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Hiking

Great trail. Can be a bit tricky to follow all the signs. Next time I do it I would stay on the switchbacks the entire time and then down horned lizard

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Jim Patterson
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Hiking

Very cool. I’ll be back to hit the full loop this weekend.

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ali bahmanzad
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Hiking
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Lisa Kogan
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Hiking

Enjoyed the scenic ocean view from the top!

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Matthew Hudson
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Mountain biking

This should be named Denk Mountain. Great views, convenient to local neighborhood

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Yuki N
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Hiking
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Steven Turov
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Hiking

Lots of single track and cyclists that don't heed the signs to yield to pedestrians

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린 다
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Hiking

If you go clockwise, the first part of the loop is steep and really rocky going uphill. Once at top, it is mainly switchbacks and downhills.

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Chelsey Winder
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Hiking
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Cynthia Frushone
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Hiking

Nice skyline, not too crowded. Perfect for a quick hike without a commute if local

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Nicole Miao
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Hiking

No shade, rocky road, bad for knees

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Tonia Wu
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HikingGreat!No shade

Well maintained trail with nice view of the neighborhood, lagoon, and ocean at the top. No shade so bring water and sun protection. Not very crowded, but it is a popular mountain bike trail on weekends. Easy street parking. Takes about 1.5-2hrs round trip.

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