Elfin Forest Reserve and Del Dios Highlands County Preserve

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Level: Advanced
Length: 14 mi (22.5 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Network
Elevation: +1,593/ -944 ft
Total: 56 riders

Mountain Biking Elfin Forest Reserve and Del Dios Highlands County Preserve

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#199 of 1,003 mountain bike trails in California
#2,669 in the world

Start with The Way Up Trail on the Elfin side for a technical climb or, if you want a grueling climb, start on the Del Dios sid wit the Del Dios Trail.
Once in the network of trails Equine Incline is a nice tough singletrail.
For area views, try Lake Hodges Overlook Trail

First added by palom0 on Jul 21, 2011. Last updated Apr 28, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: unknown
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
From San Diego:
Get on I-5 N and drive north
Take the Leucadia Blvd ramp to the right
Turn right onto Leucadia Blvd
Keep left onto Olivenhain Rd
Turn right onto San Elijo Rd
Turn right onto Elfin Forest Rd W, wjhich turns ionto Harmony Gove Rd
The Parking lot is on the right

Elfin Forest Trailhead: 8591 Harmony Grove Rd, Escondido, CA
Del Dios Highlands Trailhead: 9860 Del Dios Hwy, Escondido, CA
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Elfin Forest Reserve and Del Dios Highlands County Preserve Trail map

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Local Info

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Trail checkins

Jim Herrick (on Oct 1, 2022)
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Trail conditions

Dry (on Jul 8, 2017)
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Elfin Forest Reserve and Del Dios Highlands County Preserve videos

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Mountain Bike Trails Near Escondido, California

| 1 mi
Beginner | 14 mi
Intermediate | 9 mi
Intermediate | 20 mi

Rider questions

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  • Chris Pickford

    Good place to practice your technical riding chops. Once you get to the top of the Way Up Trail there is a network of trails that you can mix and match to make rides of varying lengths. My ride: Way Up Trail > Quail Trail > Escondido Overlook > Lake Hodges Overlook loop > Witch Trail diversion > Equine Incline Loop (clockwise) > Way Up Trail.
    Trails here at EF are characterized by steep technical climbs and descents, lots of switchbacks, typical SD rockiness, ruts and low to medium drops. The Way Up Trail is busy on weekends so watch out for hikers on the way down and get one of the courtesy bells at the trailhead before you ascend.

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  • Greg Tatham

    Big climb. Loose small rocks in sandstone ruts. A few technical turns, and decent descends . Can be flowey if you're a beast of a climber. Take a full suspension that can climb well, don't think a hard-tail would as enjoyable. Trail is not exclusively designed for bikes, but is fun!

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  • Greg Tatham

    Loose with a lot of small rocks. Lots of climbing and decent decent. Can be flowey if you're a strong climber. Hot and exposed. Best bike to ride would be a 6 inch full suspension.

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  • Aran Eversman

    I chose the Elfin Forest as my maiden voyage on a new bike after almost 10 years away from riding MTB. It's one of those work vs reward trails - the first mile up the Way Up trail was pretty brutal, I was pushing almost as much as riding! Slightly discouraged after leaving my helmet in the truck, a short bomb down reminded me exactly why all of that work is worth it. Up on top things mellow out a bit and I kept working my way to the Lake Hodges overlook. Trails were dry but techie and super fun - for every foot of climb is a few seconds of descent right around the corner and to me, that's what kept me pushing through the tuff stuff.

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  • junnyhda

    The way up is challenging, one on the top is nice and multiple trails to follow. Definitely a good place to ride but not for beginners.

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  • sandyfun1

    Tough start, a few breaks then tough downhill. Start from Del Dios has less traffic, but steeper too.

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