The Best Places to Walk, Hike, Jog and Run in Escondido

hike escondido

Whether you prefer a paved, flat walking path in a city park or rugged terrain that gets your heart pumping, Escondido has a lot to offer anyone who prefers to bypass the gym and get their exercise outdoors.

Here are seven great places to walk, hike, jog or run, including options that will keep you near the city center and those that allow you to explore the wilderness and get up close and personal with nature.

1. San Dieguito River Park/Lake Hodges

  • Address: Locations Vary
  • Open: Daily
  • Best for: Walking, Hiking, Jogging, Running

San Dieguito River Park is huge, so only some of the trails are actually located in Escondido as part of the park’s efforts to create a 55-mile network reaching from the coast to Volcan Mountain. Some of the most popular trails in this network in the Escondido area are around Lake Hodges.

There are plenty of easy trails around the lake for walking, jogging, hiking or running, as well as the David Kreitzer Lake Hodges Bicycle Pedestrian Bridge, which is a very cool, 990-foot stress-ribbon bridge that crosses the lake.

Leashed dogs are allowed on most of the trails, and some trails have interpretive markers. Check out the San Dieguito River Park website for trailhead locations, trail maps and to help determine which trails are best for your fitness level.


2. Rod McLeod Park

  • Address: 1701 South Iris Lane, Escondido
  • Open: Daily from Sunrise to Sunset
  • Best for: Walking

Rod McLeod ParkThis smaller park is not well known among diehard runners, but those looking for a low-impact workout that is close to home and offers great views of downtown Escondido will find the loop around this park the perfect place to meet up with friends for an evening stroll.

Dogs are not allowed in the park, but if you plan to just walk or jog on the streets near the park, your pooch could tag along.


3. Felicita County Park

  • Address: 742 Clarence Lane, Escondido
  • Open: Daily 9:30am to Sunset (Closed Christmas Day)
  • Best for: Walking, Hiking

The land that is now Felicita Park was once home to one of the oldest Native American villages in San Diego, evidence of which can still be seen throughout the park. With more than 50 acres of oak groves, a nature trail and various hiking trails, this park is great for short family hikes, as well as working up a good sweat.

Leashed dogs are allowed, and there is a $3.00 parking fee if you park inside the park.


4. Daley Ranch

  • Address: 3024 La Honda Drive, Escondido
  • Open: Daily from Dawn to Dusk
  • Best for: Walking, Jogging, Hiking, Running

Daley Ranch

Escondido is filled with historic sites, and here is another one that has been preserved for both education and recreation. With more than 20 miles of trails for use by hikers, bikers and horseback riders, this is a great place for folks of any fitness level. There are six primary trails that wind their way through oak groves, grasslands and boulders, including the 2.5-mile Ranch House Loop and the 2.4-mile Boulder Loop Trail.

For trailhead information and maps of the many trails within Daley Ranch, visit the Daley Ranch Trails Web page.

There is plenty of parking, a printed trail map is available at the park and leashed dogs are welcome.


5. Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve

  • Address: 8833 Harmony Grove Road, Escondido
  • Open: Daily from 8:00am to about 30 minutes before sunset (Closed Christmas Day and Rainy Days)
  • Best for: Hiking

If you are looking for beautiful scenery and great views, you will love hiking one of the many trails in the Elfin Forest. Some of the trails are family friendly, and some have steep inclines, so there is something here for just about every fitness level.

If you are looking to burn some serious calories, take the Way Up Trail, which will reward you with great views at the top. More serious hikers can also trek all the way to Lake Hodges. Families looking to learn more about the area’s plant life will enjoy the Botanical Trail, which has many vegetation markers.

There is a parking lot, but this is a popular North County hiking spot, so it tends to fill up early. Street parking is also available.


6. Kit Carson Park

  • Address: 3333 Bear Valley Parkway, Escondido
  • Open: Daily from Sunrise to Sunset
  • Best for: Walking, Jogging, Running

Kit Carson Park

This historic site offers 100 acres of developed park land as well as 185 acres of preserved natural habitat, making this park the perfect place to enjoy nature in the midst of city living. Take a casual stroll through the Iris Sankey Arboretum, walk around one of the park’s three lakes, enjoy a variety of unpaved walking paths, or jog the loop that surrounds the park for a bigger workout.

Click here for a map of the park and trails.


7. Dixon Lake Trail

  • Address: 1700 North La Honda Drive, Escondido
  • Open: Daily 6:00am to Dusk
  • Best for: Walking, Hiking

Dixon Lake is part of Daley Ranch and is primarily known for the fishing, but there is also a 2.4 mile trail that offers an easy walk along the shore and is good for folks of all fitness levels, including families with children.

No dogs are allowed at the lake, and there is an entry fee that is currently $5.00 per vehicle; however, seniors over 60 can get in for free.


Your Turn…

Do you have a favorite place to hike, jog, walk or run in Escondido? If so, let us know in the comments below.


Photo Credits: morgueFile, haligi; City of Escondido (


AJ Davis-Varela: AJ is a freelance writer and blogger at Articles by AJ specializing in travel, real estate, natural wellness and green living. She is a magazine columnist, a former San Diego newspaper columnist, has been published in a variety of print and online publications, and regularly contributes to several websites and blogs. You can connect with AJ on LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+

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