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The unpaved portion of Lake Drive, which runs along the west side of Lake Hodges from Rancho Drive almost as far as the Lake Hodges Dam, had been open to mountain bikers and hikers for years. Then some kind of construction work caused the road to be closed for several years.
I had heard that the road, or a trail parallel to it, had finally been reopened. So I took my new mountain bike up there to see for myself.
I parked in the small parking lot at the junction of Lake Drive and Rancho Drive. Signs indicated that some kind of organized mountain bike ride was in progress. I certainly saw more mountain bikers on the trail than I normally would, even on a pleasant Saturday.
There is still a no-trespassing sign on the unpaved part of Lake Drive, but other signs direct hikers, bikers and horseback riders to the "signed trail".
I followed the signed trail south. It apparently has no name, so I will just call it the Lake Drive Trail. It is part of the San Dieguito River Park Coast to Crest Trail, and it is shown as such on the 2009 Thomas Guide, but it is signed merely as a trail in the San Dieguito River Park.
Most of it doesn't look like a formal trail. It looks more like a "social trail", i.e., a path worn by persistent use.
The Lake Drive Trail goes south for about 0.9 miles and then joins what looks like the original road, near a house. This road, which is apparently intended to be part of the trail, goes south as far as the Lake Hodges Dam. It is apparently used for access to the upper side of the dam. The trail separates from the road and heads up to Del Dios Highway.
When it approaches Del Dios Highway, the trail starts to look like a real planned trail, with a nice wooden fence along the side away from the highway. There are unpaved areas along the highway that look a lot like trailhead parking areas, except for the no-parking signs.
The trail meets Del Dios Gorge Trail, which plunges into the canyon. I didn't explore all of this trail, having explored it previously on foot on May 25, 2009. I did notice that the cutoff to the base of the dam, which we explored at that time, now has a do-not-enter sign on it.
I also surveyed the part of Lake Drive Trail which runs near Lake Drive from the parking area near Rancho Drive to another near Beech Lane. That trail has been open for many years, and I had ridden it before.
I had some difficulty fitting my survey of the trail to features on the topographic maps. My readings near the house were particularly suspect.
After my ride, I drove down to the Del Dios Gorge and Santa Fe Valley trailhead to take some pictures for possible use in a hike announcement.
Transcript of survey.
Data plotted on topos
Philip J. Erdelsky