Do you know Jack?
This is a popular loop within the Daley Ranch hiking park, owned by the City of Escondido. Although you have to walk up a steep hill to get into the main ranch area and start the hike, most of the hike is fairly flat, with a few whoopsi-doos that mountain bikers will enjoy. It's also open for horseback riding and dog-walking, on leash. Dog walkers must pick up after the dogs.
On the hike into the main ranch area there are panoramic views of the city, but once on the loop you feel more like you are in the backcountry, walking along in a small valley, filled with oak trees and chaparral. The small creek runs only during rainy times, mostly in late winter and early spring.
There is no fee to enter the park, but donations are welcome. The area is open daily from dawn to dusk. In summer it is very hot, sometimes over 100 degrees, so you should start your hike at dawn.
To reach the trail loop, park in the main parking area for the ranch, and walk along the paved road up a steep hill and down the other side, until you see the two-story ranch house on your left. Pavement ends here. Keep going straight ahead on the same road, which is now dirt. You'll pass a few sheds and other buildings. Watch for the sign post that says Jack Creek Meadow Loop. You can take the right hand fork, or go straight ahead on the left hand fork. If you are riding a bicycle you will probably want to take the right-hand fork. It'll be more fun.
If you go straight ahead on the left fork the road you are walking along narrows a bit, but goes straight ahead and is flat for at least a mile. It continues up a hill but stays pretty straight until it gets to a chain-link fence and locked gate. At this point you'll see you need to loop around to the right. You'll also see the '69 Plymouth, shot full of holes, which is on private property on the other side of the fence. It's so derelict it is almost art. Continue on and you'll start seeing the gnarled Engelmann Oaks. There is one that is particularly huge and spectacular. It's next to the trail and has a bench to sit on underneath it.
Continuing on, the trail bends back around to the right again, and soon you'll reach the main ranch area again. Return the way you came, past the ranch house on the paved road.
There is a very nice campground at adjacent Dixon Lake. Entrance to Dixon Lake is located directly across the road from the Daley Ranch parking lot. A pleasant fall or spring weekend could be spent camping in the campground and hiking the many trails at Daley Ranch. The campground accommodates tents and RVs.
More information: http://www.escondido.org/daley-ranch.aspx
Information on the history of the ranch: http://www.escondido.org/history-of-daley-ranch.aspx
Dixon Lake camping: http://www.escondido.org/dixon-lake.aspx
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
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