Hello everyone! This is a friendly reminder that any of these fun places we may visit, we are a guest at. Please treat both businesses and trails with the utmost respect. We here at Hidden San Diego follow the 'Leave no Trace' mantra, meaning whatever you bring with you comes back with you. If you see trash on a trail, please do your part to help remove it. Remember, we are not picking up trash from another person but instead cleaning up for Mother Nature. Happy adventures!

19482-19826 W Bernardo Dr.
San Diego, CA 92127

33.054541, -117.075328

Dog-Friendly: Yes    Kid-Friendly: Yes

Hike: There are many trails on this land    Level: Each hike varies in level of difficulty


About Lake Hodges:

The Lake Hodges we see and know today was actually once a river which was inhabited by the Kumeyaay People since at least 7,000 B.C. Ceremonial pictographs are found in this area (well-guarded now due to unfortunate vandalism) and mortars can be found along the shoreline which were used for grinding food.  Much of the plant staples for the Kumeyaay can still be found in this area today.

There were once two brothers who owned land along the river, which at the time was known as Crescent Valley.  The Carroll brothers had a large family and raised cattle, which small remnants of the ranch can still be seen today.

In 1905, the brothers sold their land to business tycoon Ed Fletcher for $10!  Once sold, the dam was built and the river turned into what we know today as Lake Hodges.  Once the lake was fully formed, the Carroll’s adobe ranches become submerged underwater, where parts of them may or may not sit today.

We have found the old rock quarry which was used to construct the dam and nearby are a pair of “caves” which are more like rock shelters. Above in the hills you may be able to see the Spaceship House, which is part of a large artist community. So many lovely, hidden gems in this area!

Personal Experience

I grew up in this area & played softball for many, many years at the fields adjacent these trails. This area holds fond memories for me as I know it does for many of you too. There is a so-so waterfall off of one of the trails here so keep your eyes peeled!

This area made headlines after Chelsea King was found murdered here after a jog back in ’10. The community came together so beautifully during this time but sadly none of it was enough to bring her back alive.

While you’re in the area, make sure to hike the Hissing Hills nearby!

As tranquil as places like these are, they are sadly not necessarily safe to explore alone. There are houses overlooking where Chelsea was abducted in broad daylight. All it took were mere seconds to pull her out of view. I don’t mean to be morbid, I just want everyone to be cautious during their exploring.

This is a great area to enjoy the wildflowers in the springtime!

A small memorial for Chelsea King can be found out here:

This memorial once sat where she was murdered but has since been washed away after rising waters during winter storms:

There’s also a waterfall out here

And a remarkable dam:

Lake Hodges Dam is a multiple-arch dam that sits on the San Dieguito River. This is an amazing adventure and place to hike around!

Piedras Pintadas maze pictograph:

Piedras Pintadas maze pictograph


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  • Anonymous
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    Great info. Thanks!!

    May 4, 2019

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