Explore the most popular hiking trails near San Marcos with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Nice trail with some great views and extra loops if you want to extend it.

It’s an okay hike. There are a lot of side trails and none of the trails are marked, so bring your phone with this app unless you’re looking to wander about or you have an excellent sense of direction. Although you can see for quite a ways, you’re really only going to be able to see subdivisions. If you live close by, check it out, but don’t drive far for this one.

It’s a nice hike but you need to watch where you walk on part of the trail because it is rocky. I loved the bridges and the water was relaxing.

hiking
8 days ago

It's a nice local suburban hike with about a 1000' gain on wide, well-marked trails. It gets better once you get to the top of Stoneridge housing development - at the first water tank - and away from the houses. Nice views once you get high enough. Can be somewhat crowded on weekends, but not too bad. Cool that you can get a climb and a view like this without having to drive too far. Nice spanning coastal views on clear days and usually pleasant breezes to cool you off once you hit the top. Cool to hit Double Peak just around sunset.

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.

Too many houses around during some of the trip.
Saw a coyote though so had a good experience. Moderate difficulty.

walking
12 days ago

It was a nice moderate trail.

hiking
1 month ago

It is convenient and nice views from the top. I am not crazy about pavement and looking into people’s yards. So many homes. Prefer to be away from it....

Great views and a good challenge on the way up.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
2 months ago

Went for a mid day stroll with my medium sized dog (40lbs) and was on the back side (at the bottom of the steep incline overview of ranch/nursery/greenhouses) eating lunch when I saw a light brown/tannish animal. Thought it was a coyote but it moved swiftly like a cat, large muscular shoulders and body and thick legs and paws. Definitely not a coyote but 99.9%sure a MT LION. Seen on 5/17/18 at 1:30pm. I picked up my dog and huddled our asses out of there. Carried a medium size rock with me, luckily there were a lot of large rocks on the trail to throw at the cat if needed. Thankful we didn’t see it again, probably 1/4 mike away down in the field near the mountain slope. Be careful and prepared!

hiking
2 months ago

So, hubby, daughter and I have hiked this trail for the last few years, and I would not call this trail "Easy" necessarily. About 3/4 of it is easy, yes. The first 1/3 is pretty flat and a good warm-up. Then, you make the left turn back Southeast up, what I call, the "interval training hill". It's steep, then flat for a bit. Repeat 5-6 times. The top emerges into a gated neighborhood before you walk the ridge behind some homes (with some nicely appointed back yards) and then straight down the hill back to Discovery Lake. Again, I'd not call it "easy", but it's a good training hike for harder hikes.

hiking
2 months ago

The trail down to the falls has been blocked off. Still a pretty decent little hike though

I really don’t want my view to be houses! Just me.

walking
2 months ago

Very easy hike. We went the wrong way.. so if you go up on the incline you are going the wrong way. Came down and we went down the other trail but the kiddo's were done so we didn't see the waterfall. Will come back again and try the right path to the waterfall. Want to keep the 11 - 15 years old happy for next hike.

hiking
2 months ago

What a fun hike!
The Loop can get a bit confusing but having this app helps!

walking
2 months ago

You can also access Copper Creek Waterfall from the La Costa Oaks side off Camino Junipero Road. Follow the fire road where the large power lines run east, and then catch the trail down into the canyon. There are remnants of the old copper mine, including foundation slabs, mine tails, and even the small entrance to the old mine. A cool little hidden gem, and a nice tiny swimming hole for those brave enough to dip a toe.

hiking
2 months ago

This trail is a hidden gem! Very flat and short trail so excellent for younger kids.
The parking is in a big open area in front of an abandoned looking industrial building. If you are driving west on San Elijo rd, you will pass an Albertsons on the left. The parking area is about 1/4 mile past it. Once parked, pick a trail that heads towards the building. Keep left. This should lead you to a somewhat paved road next to a fence. Keep walking down and you will pass some storage lockers to your left. The trailhead is a little under 1/4 mile past it. At the trailhead are some walking sticks that you can take on your hike and return once you are done- so cool.
About 1/2 mile in, you will come across another trail sign with two paths. Stay to the RIGHT. The other way is more uphill and takes longer! Keep going on the right path and you will start to come across some nice footbridges. After that, it’s only another 1/2 mile until you’ll reach the waterfall. The waterfall is down a hill from the trail and is tricky to get down there since it’s steep, rocky and a little slippery. But you can still see it from the top.
Overall, this hike is a little under 3 miles out and back and made it the perfect post dinner family hike during the week!

I’ve done every trail on this mountain at least 5 times, if not more. Great hikes with lots of single tracks. Great for everyone and dog owners too.

Ensure you watch out for snakes in the summer months, as they are plentiful but usually not in plain site (off the trails). There have been mountain lion sightings and we saw a large bobcat at night, but I don’t know of any interactions with humans or pets.

Have a blast out here and enjoy. There are a lots of trails and lots to see.

hiking
2 months ago

Good little steep loop for a weeknight hike. the water view is at the bottom before you climb much and the views from up top are nice but are facing the sun in the afternoon/evening.

hiking
3 months ago

*****TICK WARNING*****

*****no pets allowed*****
:( came home to find what I believe was a tick on my shoulder.. however it was an amazing trial!! definitely enjoyed the peacefulness! the trail is not marked and had to rely on the Alltrail map to guide me. Heard a couple of rattlesnakes however didn't see them. my suggestion is to bring a pair of trekking poles or even a good couple of sticks. Had to use them to climb down to the waterfall and if you don't have good footing most definitely higher chance to slip and fall. Cell service was good out there (TMobile). The scenery was absolutely phenomenal phenomenal!! I only saw 2 people on the trail. Highly recommend to do this trail. was super easy and definitely kid friendly.

I’ve hiked on this trail with my two dogs and it’s a nice trail!

hiking
3 months ago

Great spot, good elevation in the beginning

hiking
3 months ago

Trail was beautiful but a bit overgrown, the path gets very narrow in several places. I would suggest bringing a stick as the rattlesnakes are out early this year. Had a very close encounter with one this past weekend! Overall a cool little trail, get confusing at the loop because you run into a sign that says End Trail which ends in new construction, nevertheless, the navigation on the app helped get us on track.

A portion of this loop is NOT DOG FRIENDLY, just a heads up for dog owners out there :) you can take the horned lizard trail but it adds a significant amount of elevation gain, and also an extra half a mile in distance

good view! don‘t like that there is a street and cars at the top!

Very pretty, peaceful and tons of birds. It’s a flat, paved walking trail, so it’s very easy. A plus is that it is adjacent to another trail which is more moderate- The Double Peak Trail- it has a steep upgrade and some nice views. One drawback of both trails is that they are doing some huge construction nearby, building a new neighborhood. So that really interferes with the overall experience.

it's short, easy, relaxing and beautiful

trail running
4 months ago

I came here to get some exercise and run up the trail. It's a steep incline at first! Once you get on the dirt path, it becomes easier. There is some loose gravel & rocks so bring some supportive running shoes if you plan to run it. The main path is anywhere between 8-10 ft wide, so you can't miss it, but there are some other smaller paths that break off the main. Once at the top, there are some great views out to the ocean. You can also continue on some smaller trails down the other side of the mountain. When I was here, a Friday afternoon, there as no one else around, so it was a nice quiet run. It was just over 2 miles round trip, but I did do a little extra exploring when I got to the top.

Good got kids. Both my 3/6 year olds can make the loop from lake

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