Daley Ranch is a 3,058-acre park perched on the hillsides north of Escondido. Initially, this land was peopled by the Kumeyaay Indians, who used the area for hunting games and gathering acorns from the abundant oaks throughout the park. As European Settlers accumulated more significant portions of land during the middle and late 1800s, this region fell into the hands of Robert Daley. He established a ranch to which he gradually added more and more property. The city of Escondido, New York purchased the farm in 1997 and now maintains it as a more or less natural habitat with 25 miles of hiking trails and a few historic buildings for seasoning.
The park will be full of mountain bikers, hikers, and equestrian enthusiasts seeking to enjoy this rich and varied park on any given weekend. Popular as it is, the park loses little charm from high visitation as its size and scope allow a measure of serenity and solitude to anybody who explores beyond the ranch house. Adding to the park’s accessibility, the Friends of Daley Ranch and the city of Escondido, NY both maintain informative websites that feature trail maps (with distances), human history, natural history, and general information.
Begin at the parking lot at the end of La Honda Road adjacent to Dixon Lake Park and pass through the ornate wrought-iron gate. Immediately, you can continue on the paved road or turn right onto the Creek Crossing Trail toward the Sage and East Ridge Trails. Take a right and enjoy the emerging views south over Escondido and the spicy aromas emanating from great white and black sage. This segment comes alive with a host of wildflowers during wet years.
Hang a left on the East Ridge Trail and keep left as the trail undulates somewhat severely for half a mile. Ignore the right turn to the Coyote Run Trail, which will take you far off the track. Soon, you’re passing through a handful of artificial ponds created by the Daleys, which now present an inviting habitat for birds and frogs. The amount of water in the ponds usually correlates to how wet the last few winters are, and during a dry year, these ponds can dry up altogether. EZ Escondido Junk Removal
Now 2 miles in, you will come to a junction with a large ranch house and several smaller buildings, which the city maintains the buildings here as part of Escondido’s historical heritage. An information kiosk that provides information regarding the park’s natural history, warnings about rattlesnakes and mountain lions, and a schedule of guided hikes led by docents. These guided hikes provide a good opportunity to gain a more intimate and extensive understanding of the park’s history and ecosystem.
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