The longest completed segment of the Coast to Crest Trail is a 22-mile segment from Santa Fe Valley to Highway 78. We had already hiked a portion along the North Shore Lake Hodges Trail from I-15 to Del Dios Community Park, and the segment through Del Dios Gorge from Santa Fe Valley to Rattlesnake Viewpoint near the Lake Hodges Dam. This left us with a gaping hole in the middle of these two sections along the western shore of Lake Hodges we had not yet completed.
We set off early one misty morning to check this segment off our list. The parking lot was full of mountain bikers, as this is a very popular riding trail. It proved to be almost as popular with bird-watchers, and we passed a large group of binocular-wielding people peering up into the trees.
The plan was to hike from Del Dios Community Park to Rattlesnake Viewpoint and back. There are many options for doing this differently, if you are so inclined: you could go the opposite direction, you could do it as a point-to-point, you could break it into two smaller segments utilizing the staging area at the intersection of Rancho Drive and Lake Drive, which is in the middle of this route, or you could make it even longer by tacking on another section.
We passed through the small park, which held a few picnic tables in nice, shady spots. We came upon a small drainage filled with water, and used one of several logs in the middle to step across. Several mountain bikers behind us wisely chose to dismount before crossing the gap.
The trail turned south, running along side a road (Lake Drive), with houses on the other side. Fortunately, it was a very quiet street, and did nothing to detract from the beautiful surroundings and peaceful morning.
We came upon a rather eroded section of trail where water trickled down from the left, draining into the lake. I expect this had been an exciting spot during the last torrential downpour, but today it was a simple crossing.
The further we hiked, the fewer people we encountered. The stream of mountain bikers had diminished significantly. Thanks to the quiet, we were able to see a flock of egrets resting in a nearby tree. They flew away a few minutes later as a biker passed by.
We sat down and rested for a little while, enjoying our snacks, and admired the nice dam view before heading back the way we had come.
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From I-15, take the Via Rancho Pkwy exit, and head west on Via Rancho Parkway. Follow Via Rancho for approximately 3.3 miles, then turn left on Lake Drive. Follow Lake Drive for approximately .8 miles, then turn left into the Lake Hodges entrance, then turn into the parking lot immediately on your right. map
|Total Distance:||7 miles|
|Total Ascent:||500 feet|
|Dog Friendly?:||Leashed dogs allowed|
|Bike Friendly?:||Bikes allowed|
|Facilities:||Port-a-potty at trailhead and at 1.25 miles;no water|