Escondido’s beautiful Daley Ranch offers some of the best hiking opportunities in San Diego County. With trails for beginning, intermediate, and advanced hikers, exploring Daley Ranch on foot is family-friendly, and a great way to get some exercise and experience the natural beauty of Southern California.
Daley Ranch is located in the northeastern portion of the City of Escondido, north of Dixon Lake and west of Valley Center Road. Access is provided via La Honda Drive to the south, Valley Center Road to the east, and Cougar Pass Road to the west. See below for directions.
Daley Ranch Naturalist-guided Hikes
– General Info
Hikes are open to the public and free of charge. All hikes begin at the Daley Ranch entrance on La Honda Drive unless otherwise noted. Bring water, sun hat, sunscreen, and proper hiking boots or treaded footwear. All trails include steep and/or slippery sections. Please do not leave valuables in your car. Steady rain cancels a hike. Please note that drinking water is not available on Daley Ranch so be sure to carry a sufficient supply. Please wear layered clothing as it may be cool in the mornings and warmer as the hike continues. Reservations are not required. Leashed dogs are allowed.
(If you are interested in volunteering see more info at the bottom of this post.)
Saturday, May 11, 2018, 7:00 a.m. “Discover Daley Ranch” 5 to 7 Miles
Meet Naturalist William Sherrard for a slow to moderately paced hike on the trails of Daley Ranch. The planned hike is between 5 and 7 miles in length and will last about 2.5 to 3.0 hours. Bring plenty of water as there isn’t any water source on the trails. There are plenty of spots to turn back to the parking lot if you wish to shorten the hike.
Saturday, May 12, 2018, 8:00 a.m. Visiting and Resident Birds of Lake Wohlford
MEET AT THE LAKE WOHLFORD/OAKVALE TRAILHEAD AT 8:00 a.m.
Join Naturalist Sally Sanderson as she leads an easy-paced bird walk of about 3 miles, lasting two to three hours at Lake Wohlford. Participants will follow the southern and eastern shoreline from the parking lot on Oakvale Road. Bald Eagles and Ospreys might be seen, among the resident birds and early summer visitors. Bring binoculars, hat, water and wear layered clothing. To get to Lake Wohlford from Escondido, travel east on Valley Parkway. At Washington Avenue, Valley Parkway becomes Valley Center Road. Continue another 0.8 mile to Lake Wohlford Road and turn right. Drive 1.9 miles uphill to Oakvale Drive, again on the right. Drive 0.7 mile on Oakvale to a gated dirt road on the left, which leads to a parking area for public access to the south shore of Lake Wohlford. Heavy rain cancels.
Sunday, May 13, 2018, 11:00 a.m.
Approximately 1 mile from the La Honda entrance is the Historic Daley Ranch House. The Ranch House is open to the public on the 2nd Sunday of every month from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m, at which time Ranger Staff and Docents provide information and insights into the history of the ranch. Please note that steady rain cancels.
Saturday May 26, 2018, 7:00 a.m. “Discover Daley Ranch” 5 to 7 Miles
Meet Naturalist William Sherrard for a slow to moderately paced hike on the trails of Daley Ranch. The planned hike is between 5 and 7 miles in length and will last about 2.5 to 3.0 hours. Bring plenty of water as there isn’t any water on the trails. There are plenty of spots to turn back to the parking lot if you wish to shorten the hike.
Saturday, May 26, 2018, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Dixon Lake Clean Up
It can take just a moment for a bird to get tangled up in fishing line or for a coyote to ingest a candy wrapper. You are invited to come out and pick it up before they do. Bags, trash pickers, vests, and water will be provided. Long sleeves, pants, closed-toe shoes and sun protection recommended. Minors must bring a guardian. Rain cancels.
For more information, please contact Ranger Kathy: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to be a volunteer? If you are interested in volunteering as a Trail Patrol, Hike Leader, Trail Maintenance or Litter-Abatement Team Member, please stop by the Dixon Lake Ranger Station for information and an application—or call Sue at (760) 839-4345.
Directions to Hike Locations:
La Honda Trailhead—From Interstate 15, take the El Norte Parkway exit in Escondido. Go east four miles to La Honda Drive, turn left, drive one mile to Daley Ranch entrance and park in dirt lot on left.
Cougar Pass Trailhead—From Interstate 15, take the El Norte Parkway exit in Escondido east about a half mile to Broadway. Take Broadway north four miles to Cougar Pass (dirt road), turn right, and drive one mile. Park in the asphalt lot on left.
Caballo Trailhead—From Interstate 15, take the Valley Parkway exit in Escondido and go northeast about 5 miles. Turn left at Bevin into the Eureka Springs development. Follow the road toward the filtration plant entrance and turn right at the Escondido Humane Society sign (Volunteer Lane).
Park in the dirt parking lot.
Lake Wohlford Trailhead—From Interstate 15, take the Valley Parkway exit in Escondido and go northeast about 5.5 miles. Turn right on Lake Wohlford Road and go 1.9 miles to Oakvale Road. Turn slightly right onto Oakvale and go about one mile. Turn left into the fenced parking lot.
About Daley Ranch:
Daley Ranch is a 3,058-acre conservation area acquired in 1996 by the City of Escondido and is managed in perpetuity for the preservation of a biologically unique and diverse habitat area of regional importance. Visitors enjoy a variety of recreational and educational opportunities and experiences in a historically significant setting. The property contains a number of natural vegetation communities including lush oak woodlands, coastal sage scrub and chaparral, grasslands, and riparian areas.
Approximately 1.5 miles from the La Honda entry is the redwood ranch house (currently a private caretaker’s residence), redwood barn, and numerous outbuildings of historical interest.
Daley Ranch offers over 20 miles of multipurpose trails for hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian use. Six distinct trails cover most of the property. Most popular are the Boulder Loop Trail (2.4 miles) which affords outstanding views of Escondido, and the Ranch House Loop (2.5 miles), which passes two small ponds and the site of Daley’s original log cabin.
NOTE: Leashed dogs are allowed.