Lakeside Linkage Preserve is a small but scenic open space area in East County. The trailhead is located in what at first glance appears to be a vacant lot on Los Coches Road in Lakeside, but once you get up the first hill you’ll find a peaceful oasis of coastal sage scrub and beautiful vistas of East County. Your destination is the historic Whitaker House, a well-known landmark that was donated to the county by its former owners Mildred and Hale Whitaker.
We were looking for a relatively quick afternoon hike that wouldn’t require a long drive, and Lakeside Linkage Preserve fit the bill. We parked on Los Coches Road right in front of the trailhead kiosk. A single track trail ran east through a field of thick green grass.
We followed the single track a few hundred feet to the base of the hill. Following the trail marker, we turned right and began ascending.
Below us, in the field, we saw the concrete remains of what was presumably a building at one point.
The trail quickly turned very steep as it made a zig-zag then turned almost straight up the side of the hill.
It wasn’t a very long hill, but it was definitely one of the steeper climbs we’d done recently.
Around .34 miles the trail leveled out and we paused to relax a moment, enjoying the green hillside.
The trail gradually turned north. We made our way across the sage topped expanse.
The trail got a little confusing in this area, but we followed the ridgeline as it turned uphill to the east. The lower path to the right leads over to another neighborhood access point. Everything reconnects eventually, but the path to the left up the ridge is the official trail and most direct route.
A little past .5 miles the trail connected with a wide dirt road. We turned left and continued to climb.
It wasn’t long before we spotted another green post trail marker directing us off the road to a path on the left and we turned.
To the west we could see the housing developments along Los Coches Road.
To the east were more houses, and El Cajon Mountain and the Cuyamacas in the distance.
Despite the proximity of civilization, the trail itself was quite peaceful. We startled a rabbit who bounded off into the brush as we approached.
Around .8 mile the trail passed right by someone’s backyard fence, then began a steep descent.
There was a brief ascent to another hilltop where were finally able to see the mountains in the east without annoying power lines obstructing the view.
At just under 1 mile, we noticed a use trail branching off to the left. It led a short way to an overlook, so of course we had to check out the view.
Continuing on the main trail, we found another overlook just a couple hundred feet up the trail. From here we had a nice view of our destination to the north.
The trail wound down the hill through the brush.
We came to a paved road which leads up to the Whitaker House.
Paved roads are of course lame, but fortunately there is a non-lame hiking trail that goes along the opposite side of the hill. So that’s the way we took.
The only problem was that the trail, apparently having suffered a bit of erosion during the recent rains, had erupted in abundant growth of vegetation, making it a little hard to find our way.
But we followed the track the best we could, mostly by spotting some deep hoof prints under the weeds, and eventually found a better marked section of trail.
It wasn’t long before we spotted Old Glory waving from the hilltop ahead of us and knew we were almost there.
We found a short set of cement steps leading up to the top.
On the north end of the hilltop was the gorgeous stone Whitaker House.
Opposite the house was a rather bizarre cement and stone overlook.
We wandered around the hilltop exploring the gardens and interesting stonework. Behind the house there was an amazing view to the north of Lindo Lake and the mountains beyond.
To the northeast was a great view towards El Monte Valley with El Cajon Mountain towering above.
We took our time exploring the Hilltop before finally heading back the way we had come.
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From I-8 take the Los Coches Road exit. Head north on Los Coches Road for approximately 1.4 miles where you will find the trailhead on the right side of the road. Park along Los Coches Road. map
||Leashed dogs allowed
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