Stanley Peak (Daley Ranch)

20150904_DSC5493-EditStanley PeakIt had been a long time since we’d made it up to Daley Ranch for some hiking, and were feeling like we were long overdue for another visit. The weather hadn’t been particularly conducive to peak bagging, especially in Escondido, but we decided to suck it up and make an early start so we could tackle Stanley Peak. The day turned out to be warm, but not unbearably hot, so with an ample supply of water and sunscreen we were adequately prepared for the adventure.

We parked in the dirt lot near the trailhead, right next to the Escondido Humane Society. As we were getting out of the car and gearing up, we spied a volunteer dog walker with one of her charges heading for some nearby trees.20150904_DSC5470Stanley Peak

We set off up the trail, which immediately began to ascend. A large grove of eucalyptus trees grew to the left, but the trail was completely unshaded. The heat wasn’t too bad yet as we’d gotten a reasonably early start, but I knew I would soon be reminded of why I prefer hitting Daley Ranch in the winter.20150904_DSC5471Stanley Peak

The trail switchbacked its way up the chaparral covered hillside and our leg muscles protested slightly at being forced into full climbing mode so quickly. We knew the discomfort would soon subside and continued the ascent.20150904_DSC5477-EditStanley Peak

Around the .5 mile point the trail leveled out somewhat. Tall brush provided a modicum of shade was we continued on. The trail descended briefly into a small ravine before it began climbing again.20150904_DSC5507-EditStanley Peak

As we reached the top of a rise, we noticed a beautiful orb weaver spider in her web along the side of the trail.20150904_DSC5516-Edit-EditStanley Peak

We continued up the trail to 1.2 miles, where the Quail Run trail branched off to the right. This narrow, single track trail was a shorter and more direct route to Stanley Peak than staying on the wide Sage Trail, so we turned right.20150904_DSC5522Stanley Peak

We climbed up the hill, noticing a bright swath of green to the northeast where an orchard of some type bordered the Daley Ranch property.20150904_DSC5524-EditStanley Peak

The trail wound its way up the rocky mountainside. Pausing to look back the way we had come, we had some fantastic views of Daley Ranch behind us.20150904_DSC5539-EditStanley Peak

And there’s always something interesting to see right at your feet, as well.20150904_DSC5541-EditStanley Peak

Around 1.85 mile we reconnected with the Sage Trail and turned right.20150904_DSC5549Stanley Peak

We continued our ascent up the wide Sage Trail. We were still surrounded by brush, with very little shade.20150904_DSC5551-EditStanley Peak

At 2.15 mile, the Coyote Run trail branched off to the left, descending down into a valley. We continued on the Sage Trail and its gradual upward slope.20150904_DSC5557-EditStanley Peak

As we rounded the corner, we spotted the rusty metal water tank on the western foot of Stanely Peak.20150904_DSC5558-EditStanley Peak

After another half mile or so, the trail wrapped around the ridge and we started to spot some Oak trees near the trail.20150904_DSC5567-EditStanley Peak

Around 2.75 miles a spur trail leading to the Old Water Tank branched off to the right. This is a short (less than half a mile round trip ) side trip you might want to add if you’re a fan of large graffiti-covered cylindrical metal objects. We decided to skip it this time around and continued on the main trail.20150904_DSC5568Stanley Peak

At 2.87 miles we reached a “Y” intersection, and followed the right fork towards Stanley Peak.20150904_DSC5575Stanley Peak

The trail led through some oaks then passed along the edge of a beautiful meadow.20150904_DSC5580-EditStanley

At the far side of the meadow, the trail passed once again through some shady trees. We found ourselves right along the edge of the Daley Ranch property line, and signs and fences guided us up the hill towards the peak.20150904_DSC5588-EditStanley Peak

We had had one final, steep stretch before us to reach the summit.20150904_DSC5591-EditStanley Peak

The trail climbed upwards, wrapping around the mountain’s western side.20150904_DSC5598-EditStanley Peak

As we neared the top, we got another view of the water tank from a very different perspective than before.20150904_DSC5613-EditStanley Peak

At last, around 3.6 miles, we reached the summit. There were two viewpoints on either side of the peak.20150904_DSC5615-EditStanley Peak

The view west was of Escondido and the Pacific Ocean beyond.20150904_DSC5618Stanley Peak

From the eastern viewpoint we could see the massive ridge of the Palomar Mountain in the distance.20150904_DSC5621Stanley Peak

We found a peak register nestled in the rocks near the eastern viewpoint.20150904_DSC5624Stanley

And climbing through some brush and rocks we could get nice views of the south as well, where we could pick out Mt Woodson and Iron Mountain.20150904_DSC5628Stanley Peak

After taking some time to rest and enjoy the views, we headed back the way we had come.

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From Northbound I-15, take the Valley Parkway exit and head east on Valley Parkway. Heading east, Valley Parkway will briefly turn into Grand Ave, Crescent Road, then 2nd Ave before turning back into Valley Parkway. Approximately 6 miles from the freeway, turn left onto Beven Drive, then right onto Save A Life Way, following signs for the Escondido Humane Society. Drive to the end of the road, the parking area and trail head will be on the left, just before the entrance for the Humane Society.

From Southbound I-15, take the El Norte Parkway exit. Head east on El Norte Parkway for approximately 4.6 miles. Turn left onto Valley Parkway and continue about .2 miles to Beven Drive. Turn left onto Beven Drive, then right onto Save A Life Way, following signs for the Escondido Humane Society. Drive to the end of the road, the parking area and trail head will be on the left, just before the entrance for the Humane Society.


Total Distance: 7.25 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Total Ascent: 1535 feet
Dog Friendly?: Leashed dogs allowed
Bike Friendly?: Bikes allowed
Facilities: Port-a-potty and water in parking lot
Fees/Permits: None

For more information, visit:
City of Escondido: Daley Ranch
Daley Ranch Trail Map
View route or download GPX in CalTopo

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