Lake Hodges is a very popular spot with both hikers and mountain bikers due to its various, long trails and fantastic scenery. Miles of shoreline make it a great spot for bird-watching. The south side of Lake Hodges is home to the Piedras Pintadas Trail, an interpretive trail filled with exhibits describing the life of the Kumeyaay people who once inhabited the area, as well as the Bernardo Bay Trail which travels the southern shores of Lake Hodges. These trails can be enjoyed individually, or combined into a moderate 5-mile trek filled with a variety landscapes and wildlife.
We intended to beat the heat and get an early start on this hike, but even so found the parking lot bustling with activity when we arrived. We found the trailhead at the southwest corner of the parking lot.
To the north we could see Bernardo Mountain rising up.
At approximately .35 miles we came to another “T” junction where the Piedras Pintadas Trail led off to the left. The right fork continued around Bernardo Bay, which we planned to do after we finished the Piedras Pintadas Trail. For now, we turned left.
There were a couple of switchbacks, then we found ourselves next to a wooden fence overlooking a small waterfall. The flow was down to a modest trickle, but we were pretty impressed to see anything this late in the season.
The trail then led us uphill a bit further until we were just outside a residential area. The trail then turned to the north and we enjoyed a brief stretch of shade while crossing the small stream that fed the waterfall.
The left fork led up to a gated utility road. We continued on the right fork and quickly came upon another junction. This was the beginning of a small loop, so you can go either way. We took the left fork.
We had more beautiful views of Lake Hodges and Bernardo Mountain on the opposite shore. Around 1.7 miles was a large oak tree with a bench underneath – a lovely spot to sit down for a snack and enjoy the view.
We retraced our route all the way back to the “T” junction where the Piedras Pintadas Trail had split off. Our total mileage at this point was 3.3 miles. If you’ve had enough at this point you can turn right and be back to the parking area fairly quickly. We were still ready for more, so we turned left to continue on.
We followed the wide, dirt path as it curved around. Before long we could see the water of Bernardo Bay. The ridge we had just climbed along the Piedras Pintadas Trail rose up on the opposite shore to our left.
Around 4.24 miles we came to another large junction with multiple trail splits. There was a path to the right leading uphill which bisected the wide peninsula we were traversing, and led back towards our starting point. We stayed to the left however, to continue our trek along the shore.
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From I-15, take the W Bernardo Dr/Pomerado Rd exit and head west on West Bernardo Drive. Follow West Bernardo Drive for approximately .3 miles. The parking lot will be on your right. map
|Total Distance:||5.15 miles|
|Total Ascent:||500 feet|
|Dog Friendly?:||Leashed dogs allowed|
|Bike Friendly?:||Bikes allowed|
|Facilities:||Port-a-potty in parking lot, no water|