Turtle Head Mountain Trail

MODERATE 74 reviews

Turtle Head Mountain Trail is a 4.6 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Escondido, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, trail running, and nature trips and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 4.6 miles Elevation Gain: 734 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

over grown

rocky

no shade

hiking
no shade
over grown
private property
1 day ago

this part is mostly private property. there's a sign of no trespassing quickly after you take the left turn to go up to the road when walking back from the turtle head. to get back into the neighborhood you have to climb a fence

hiking
bugs
over grown
rocky
1 day ago

6 days ago

Trail was ok. Loved the view of the lake and pound. The trail just ends and your left wondering if you went the wrong way. very prickly plants all along the trail so wear Jeans. today was 77 degrees but felt hotter out there. if your in the area go for it, but don't drive out of your way.

hiking
bugs
over grown
rocky
10 days ago

hiking
bugs
no shade
over grown
private property
rocky
11 days ago

Saturday June 1st I and a group of friends came to this trail and it was hard to find at first because it’s in a residential area and you would have no idea it’s there unless you see a group of people walk what looks like a little park area between two homes. When we started our hike we saw a big pretty big pond. When we continued along we were walking and talking enjoying the nice beautiful view of the lake next to it. When we continued we assumed it would wrap or take us to a breath taking spot so we could take photos. Unfortunately the more we hiked it became more uneven the ground some of us tripped or slid a lot and we even were climbing for a moment to get up and down rocks to keep going. There was a point the flowers kept going through our clothes and just scratching us then when we reached a point it was too narrow and too over grown we stopped there didn’t reach the end. When we were walking back my friend she encountered a rattle snake and quickly backed up. We couldn’t go around it because it was the only way out. We found a big enough stick that reached the rattle snake my boyfriend and my friends husband they poked it and the snakes rattled it’s tail and then quickly left and retreated up towards the mountain and other bushes we then decided to quickly run through the narrow path once it cleared away and kept running because we weren’t sure if there could be more we became extra vigilant. We had just passed that area 5-10 minutes before and suddenly we see a snake we were a little shocked. We were quickly then just walking through the whole trail we even got off the trail we believe and didn’t know where to go since we climbed up and down a lot and then we realized we were off trail. My friend slipped when we were going down the trial because it was slippery. We enjoyed the hike but we won’t be doing it again. Climate is getting warmer more snakes will be out soon! Be careful if you decided to bring dogs be vigilant and safe. The lake looked beautiful but we were hoping the trail was better. It needs a lot of work!

hiking
no shade
over grown
rocky
scramble
13 days ago

Trail becomes quite narrow and features steep, rocky sections with overgrown plant life on either side. Wear long pants and shoes with good grip.

hiking
over grown
scramble
14 days ago

The beginning of this trail was nice but it got more and more narrow and treacherous, to the point where we had to turn back before actually making it to the end :( we had two dogs with us so maybe it would have been easier without them. There is a good amount of rock scrambling and parts where it is hard to tell which way is an actual trail. I might go back on my own sometime to see how the last portion of the trail goes, just out of curiosity :P

hiking
over grown
washed out
19 days ago

hiking
bugs
off trail
over grown
private property
rocky
scramble
25 days ago

I only managed to make it half way as I was limited by evening sunlight and as a hiking n00b I didn’t want to risk it especially on that terrain! That being said I really enjoyed this- it’s not manicured at all and technically on private natural habitat (no trespassing). Super easy to find- I didn’t see any snakes (it was about 65F) but I don’t doubt there could be some on the trail. Wear BOOTS and pants that are a little more protective than yoga pants (oops) as there’s a lot of thorny bushes you’ll be going through. Probably bring bug spray if it’s a still / hot day. My dog had no issues but he’s very athletic; there are some rocky obstacles you may have to lift a dog over. Trail is super narrow and varies a lot, lots of inclines and declines, some rock and some looser sand areas right beside dropoffs. Follow the maps! I got sucked into the first 0.6 (downhill) at the first “switchback” but the trail goes UPHILL at your 11 o’clock. DEFINITELY Going back to finish this one very soon! Views are ace!

hiking
over grown
27 days ago

This hike was surprisingly challenging, but that was primarily because it is quite overgrown in places. Be prepared for a couple of scrapes on bushes/trees along the way. That said, we really liked this hike. It is challenging enough and the views of the lake throughout are great, with a nice peak to stop at for a break at the “turtle head”.

hiking
off trail
rocky
scramble
1 month ago

hiking
over grown
1 month ago

Beautiful day hike high along the lake. The narrow trail is currently overgrown, so wearing full pants and good boots helps. Lake has plenty water and looks gorgeous. Plenty of elevation and terrain variation. Motor boats on the lake do create some noise, but overall can be a very pleasant hike. There is a swing under the large tree at the top, near the flag.

hiking
off trail
scramble
1 month ago

Absolutely beautiful hike ... got lost a few times and didn’t make it to the end but will definitely come again.

hiking
off trail
scramble
1 month ago

Don’t try to take the 0.6 mile cross over near the peninsula. Sign says closed for private property and hunting after you get about halfway to Ralph’s Ranch Pkwy. Otherwise nice little hike, gets a little narrow/overgrown after the first cut off to lakeshore.

hiking
over grown
1 month ago

This trail was beautiful, if overgrown. After hearing multiple reports of rattlesnakes on the trail this spring, we made the decision to bring our rattlesnake-trained puppy. We didn’t see any snakes in the thick brush, but she alerted about ten minutes from the start of the trail. Not willing to risk an encounter, we doubled back and headed home. I don’t recommend going on the trail this spring without precautions against rattlesnakes.

hiking
bugs
over grown
washed out
2 months ago

Great views, I would give this trail 5/5 for the scenery and how close to everything it is if it were maintained. However, it’s one of the worst maintained trails I’ve ever been on in Southern California. Lots of very slow walking wading through overgrown shrubs and tall grass. Spooked a very large rattle snake that lunged at us less than 1 foot off the trail that nearly bit me. It’s not that I haven’t seen rattle snakes hiking in SoCal before but it’s always been on a maintained trail where you can see it before it sees you. Dog also got 3 ticks which I haven’t had any issues with previously on any SoCal hiking. Long story short... great views, terribly maintained. Glad I checked it out but will definitely not be going back with the abundance of trails we have available to us in Southern California

hiking
bugs
over grown
rocky
2 months ago

Beautiful trail with a great, worthy view throughout the entire walk, especially the beginning and the end. The trail is almost 2.5 miles long one way and took us about 1.5 hours walking a casual pace. The trail is in a neighborhood and the entrance to the gate is in the back of a empty lot between two houses. Some things to note: the trail is a bit overgrown in some areas and can be confusing and lead you off trail. So pay attention to the map on the app. Recommended bug spray as we encountered a few ticks, hiking boots or shoes with good grip as it is rocky in many areas and water! It does get hot!

hiking
bugs
over grown
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

Somewhat dog friendly. Had to lift the pup up and down some rocks. Definitely had some steep rocky areas so a hiking pole is nice. There is some bush wacking but overall a gorgeous hike. Since the trail is so narrow please keep dogs on leash. We ran into a couple dogs off leash and your dog may be friendly but sometimes mine is not when a dog runs at her.

hiking
off trail
over grown
rocky
2 months ago

Loved this hike. So beautiful with greenery and wildflowers. Make it to the flag and swing on the swing.

hiking
over grown
2 months ago

hiking
over grown
2 months ago

Loved this hike! Took us an hour to get to the flag and an hour to get out (2 hrs round trip). Beautiful views of the lake, green hills and wildflowers. Trail can be narrow and seem sketchy at points but it added to the adventure of the hike. Plants are overgrown around parts of the path. sometimes it may seem like you should turn around, but just charge though it. Wear pants.

hiking
over grown
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

2 months ago

Loved it! Great view, had a lot of fun, and kids enjoyed it too.

hiking
over grown
2 months ago

Pretty hike! Very overgrown, got lots 3 times on this hike! Be careful, steep at times, Pretty wildflowers!

hiking
2 months ago

Easy to moderate hike but kid friendly. Tends to be step at times but doable. A lot of great views along the way. Shrubbery it’s a little overgrown, will recommend long sleeves and pants. Brink your hiking poles and stay on the trail at all times. We encountered a rattlesnake that was crossing the trail. Keep your eyes on the trail,and be safe.

hiking
over grown
rocky
2 months ago

Great hike right out of our back yard! Almost 5 miles out and back and the wild flowers are amazing, a little sparse but amazing. There is a section to avoid the poison oak so take the high trail. It is a little obscure to find it but you should be able to see the location where we had to back track. The trail was slightly overgrown in some places but nothing to worry about.

3 months ago

Pretty hike! Did it with some friends this morning. Starts of easy waking trial then gets a bit steep and some light scrambling overs rocks. It’s very lush a green now, and the trail is a little over grown so pants and long sleeves was a bonus. We didn’t know that going in but it was a cool morning so I lucked out with my long pants. Side note there’s is a grump older lady who lives right by the entrance with a small yappy dog who yelled at us in our way out telling us that was private property to not come here next time... Out of curiosity when we walked through the wide open gate there was a metal sign that at one time said no trespassing but was completely faded. Don’t let the grump lady discourage you from a pretty hike along the lake. We saw about 8-10 other people total in the 2.5 hours we were out there.

hiking
3 months ago

I loved this hike!! Decided to go today despite the rain and the views did not disappoint. There was not a single person hiking (probably because it was sprinkling) and really felt like I was out of town and away from the rushed lifestyle. It’s definitely rocky and has some challenges- I would almost say it’s difficult in some places. Highly recommend pants, long sleeved shirts, good hiking boots and water. I have two very agile dogs and there was one spot they had difficulty- a very high drop (then climb) so we had to go up and around but still were able to finish. I know a lot of people mentioned not having any signs but that’s the fun of it- not being told every which way to go and finding your way. I only missed the trail once and it was 0.1 miles out of the way- and just closer to the lake so was really pretty and an easy correction. It is definitely a narrow trail with rocks and other obstacles. It’s not a 4 foot wide flat path like a lot of the ‘trails’ I’ve seen in this area. It’s a real single-file trail that goes up, down, side to side. I loved the views and American flag at the end. Even saw a bald eagle on this hike. Very, very rewarding 4.5 mike trek. I’ve hiked a ton of trails all over the country and this might be my favorite in Southern California! So fun, highly recommend!

hiking
off trail
scramble
3 months ago

It’s not overly difficult but it’s probably best to do this one with at least one other person.

hiking
over grown
rocky
scramble
3 months ago

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