Yesterday, we went hiking in the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve. From the parking lot, the trail heads straight up a tall ridge on the aptly-named Way Up Trail. Dogs are allowed on the trail as well as Mountain Bikes. We quickly moved out of the way of several bikes working their way down the steep and rocky trail. Pedestrians have right-of-way but we didn't want the riders to hurt themselves trying to stop in an awkward or dangerous spot.
After stopping at the Harmony Grove Overlook at the half way point, we crossed over the ridge and reached the Ridgetop Picnic Area that sits at 1,140 feet and has views of the Olivenhain Reservoir. The dam was started in 2000 and completed in 2003. (318 feet tall and 2,400 feet wide) It is a emergency storage reservoir that is filled with fresh water from the CA Aqueduct and Lake Hodges. It holds 7.8 billion gallons of water, enough water for 192,000 people for a year.
While we only hiked up and down the 1.41 mile Way Up Trail, the reserve has over 11 miles of trails that almost circle the Olivenhain Reservoir with views down to Lake Hodges on the far side. We are definitely coming back to hike some of the other trails, including the Biological Trail, an alternate route up to the ridge that merges with the Way Up Trail after a half mile.
The Escondido Creek that crosses the trailhead flows year round from Lake Wolford. After our rainy winter and spring, it was pretty full. The Elfin Forest Recreation Reserve closes a half hour before sunset.
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