Mule Hill Trail to Old Coach

History buffs will enjoy this easy hike along the Coast to Crest Trail which passes Mule Hill, site of an historic battle in 1846. A number of interpretive signs along the trail tell the story of a group of US soldiers surrounded by enemies after the Battle of San Pasqual. In addition to Mule Hill, the trail passes the Sikes Adobe Farmstead, one of the area’s oldest adobe homes.

The Mule Hill Trail is part of the largest completed segment of the Coast to Crest Trail. This segment spans 22 miles, from Santa Fe Valley to Highway 78. We’d been slowly doing various pieces of the trail, and today we were going to tackle the stretch from the Sikes Adobe Farmhouse (just east of the Lake Hodges segment we’d previously done) to the Old Coach connector trail along Highland Valley Road.

We parked on Sunset Drive and found the trailhead on the south-eastern side of the road.

It was just a short stroll to the Sikes Adobe Farmhouse. The Adobe is open for tours on Sundays from 10:30 – 3:30, but since we were there on a Saturday we just admired it from the trail.

The trail passed the Adobe then crossed Kit Carson Creek.

A tall, chain link fence lined the left side of the trail where there was a golf driving range. The view to the right was much more scenic, with the San Dieguito River.

We followed the trail along the golf course until about .48 mile where we met the road.

The trail continued to the right, following the course of Via Rancho Parkway/Bear Valley Parkway a short distance.

After only a tenth of a mile, the trail curved away from the road, and we happily left the traffic behind.

We had made a full 180 degree turn, and we were now on the opposite side of the river then we had been near the golf range. This side was much more scenic.

We came upon the first of several interpretive signs detailing the history of the area. The peak straight ahead of us was Battle Mountain.

On the left side of the trail was the less impressive looking Mule Hill. This is where US troops (including Kit Carson) retreated after the Battle of San Pasqual a few miles away. The US troops held the hill for four days awaiting reinforcements, while surrounded by enemies. They had to resort to eating their mules, and thus the small promontory earned its name. The US troops had just about given up all hope of rescue and were about to try and fight their way out when a group of Marines came to their aid.

After reading up on the history of the site, we resumed hiking. Just past the last interpretive display we found a “Y” junction, around 1.1 miles. The right fork looks like it just goes a short distance to some pumping equipment, so we continued along the left fork.

The trail led straight through an open grassy area towards a small rise.

Upon reaching the top of the rise we saw fields of the San Pasqual Agricultural Preserve spreading out before us.

We made our way down a short hill and followed the trail as it wrapped around the field.

The trail continued straight along the edge of the fields for over a mile. Around the 2.5 mile point it turned to the right, away from the farmland.

We crossed the wide, open floodplain of the San Dieguito River, heading northeast.

A little past 3 miles, we began to see more vegetation along the trail.

Around 3.2 miles we came to a “Y” junction. To the right was a connector trail leading to the Old Coach Trail on the opposite side of Highland Valley Road. The Coast to Crest Trail continued to the left, heading to Raptor Ridge. For today though, this was our turnaround point. We took advantage of the picnic table to sit down and enjoy a brief rest before turning around and heading back.


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Directions:
Take I-15 to the Via Rancho Parkway exit. Go east on Via Rancho Parkway 1 block to Sunset Drive. Turn right onto Sunset Drive, follow the road a short distance and look for the Sikes Adobe Staging Area on your left (slightly before the road dead ends) and park there. You can park on the street if the lot is full. map

Total Distance: 6.3 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Total Ascent: 200 feet
Dog Friendly?: Leashed dogs allowed
Bike Friendly?: Bikes allowed
Facilities: Port-a-potty near trailhead; no water
Fees/Permits: None

For more information, visit:
San Dieguito River Park
Trail Map
View route or download GPX from CalTopo

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