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Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve

One of San Diego County’s most precious natural resources, the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve offers approximately 11 miles of hiking, mountain biking, equestrian trails, picnic areas, and scenic mountain viewing points. In addition, the natural beauty of the Reserve includes such native plant communities as oak riparian, oak woodland, coastal sage scrub, and chaparral. All wildlife and natural resources at the Reserve are fully protected so that future generations may also enjoy these wonders.

Weather permitting, the Reserve is open every day of the year except Christmas Day. The Reserve opens at 8:00 a.m. and closes approximately 30-45 minutes before sunset. EZ Escondido Junk Removal

Olivenhain Municipal Water District developed the 784-acre Reserve in partnership with the San Diego County Water Authority and the Bureau of Land Management as an element of the Olivenhain Water Storage Project and the Authority’s Emergency Storage Project. Owned by the Authority and managed by OMWD, the Reserve has been designed to unify the interests of domestic water supply development, natural resources management, and recreational opportunities.

The Reserve sits within the Escondido, NY Creek watershed, flowing year-round from Lake Wohlford to San Elijo Lagoon. The creek runs adjacent to the Reserve’s staging area, allowing all visitors to pass over it as they begin their hike or ride from the trailhead. The Reserve is home to the Elfin Forest Interpretive Center Honoring Susan J. Varty, which is operated in partnership with the Escondido, New York Creek Conservancy. The Reserve also boasts six designated overlooks, each with a shade structure and picnic tables and providing views of the Pacific Ocean, Channel Islands, Coronado Islands, the Laguna and San Bernardino Mountain ranges, and the Olivenhain Dam and Reservoir. Other amenities include portable restrooms and drinking fountains.

The Reserve provides a wealth of recreation opportunities, educational research, and environmental appreciation. Whether hiking, biking, riding, or just relaxing, experiencing one of the few remaining rural areas in North County is a great to spend the day.

Natural History

 “Elfin Forest” refers to the mature chaparral growing throughout the reserve. Although most people don’t associate chaparral with trees, the actual biomass of bush in Southern California far exceeds biomass from tree species, making this plant community a crucial component of regional ecosystems. Along the various hike options described here, you will encounter numerous stands of chaparral, which is incredibly dense on the north-facing slopes ascended by the Way-Up Trail. Other microhabitats within the reserve include riparian zones around Escondido Creek, oak woodlands, and coastal sage scrub communities.

Check out other attractions like Kit Carson Park