Past Meetup

Escondido Creek - Elfin Forest to Olivenhain Overlook

This Meetup is past

15 people went

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve

8833 Harmony Grove Rd · Escondido, CA

How to find us

There are two parking lots for the location. We will meet up at the bottom lot (western) where there is a restroom & information kiosk at 8AM. I will have an identifying lanyard and clipboard for the sign in sheet.

Location image of event venue


DIFFICULTY: Moderate to Hard (Steep Terrain) 4 miles
PLANT KNOWLEDGE: Beginner to Expert. Professionals always welcome!
ACCESS: Free to All, No charge. Donations to the Escondido Creek Conservancy provide valuable support for local native lands.

This pocket of San Diego County is known locally for it's extraordinary beauty and history. If the Difficulty didn't already scare you off, the dangers are wildfire, rattlesnakes, falls, the vapors, mountain lions, and definitely poison oak. Only a few of those issues should be any concern this time, since we'll be headed up the trail in the San Diego winter (or summer-lite depending on where you are from). The area has a unique history, from the once thriving Harmony Grove spiritual center not far east to the Olivenhain Dam [built 20 years ago] and the ever expanding footprint of San Marcos and Escondido.

I picked this location because late January is the blooming period for Mission Manzanita (Xylococcus bicolor), White coast ceanothus (Ceanothus veroccosus), Southern mtn misery (Chamaebatia australis) [Keir found one in 2013], and White currant (Ribes indecorum). Comarostaphylis diversifolia is also found along the way if we take a very quick detour off the main trail onto the loop trail. Encinitas baccharis (Baccharis vanessae) has been sighted near the top so we'll look for it if there is enough time.

Once we can make it up to the reservoir overlook, there are a few rare habitats that contain not often seen annual plants (though it will be too early for most). Bring your usual gear and a picnic lunch as I hope to have a bite to eat before we head down from one of the rest stops with shade and tables. The trail is steep in parts so have excellent hiking shoes that you might not mind getting a little muddy.

There will be at least one vehicle (Black Toyota Tundra) that can fit an additional two people (seating preference always given to mass transit riders) available from 6:50 to 7:05 AM at the Fashion Valley Transit Station parking lot (near Fashion Valley Rd). Parking in the transit area lot is free for 24 hrs and has an occasional security guard on circuit, but keep in mind there are the same risks to parking there as any public street. If the seats fill up, be prepared to drive. Roundtrip from Mission Valley is about 60 miles. Donations for gas are not necessary but are appreciated ($5-10 per person).

UPDATE: 01/09/19 - Due to a special use permit conflict, the attendance limit and start time have been affected. Apologies if this complicates your plans to attend. Only sign ups will be allowed to keep the group limit at or below 14.

FINAL UPDATE: 01/18/19 - The trip is a go. The trail will be muddy so bring extra socks. The only carpool I am offering is from Mission Valley, unless you guys can figure out an independent alternative.