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50 Best Short Hikes: San Diego Paperback – February 13, 2018

4.6 out of 5 stars 66 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

A retired civilian research engineer in the field of Navy communications and network technologies, Don Endicott discovered a second career as a volunteer naturalist. He is an NAI Certified Interpretive Guide, presenting multimedia campground and visitor center talks at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, Mission Trails Regional Park, and San Diego County Parks. Endicott is a regular volunteer field contributor at Cabrillo National Monument for faunal surveys and intertidal interpretation and monitors a wild breeding pair of peregrine falcons at Cabrillo National Monument. An avid hiker and climber, he has enjoyed more than 50 years exploring and photographing wildlife and remote wilderness settings throughout California and the western states and has stood atop many of the region’s highest summits. Prior to retirement, Endicott served as a Sierra Club National Outings Leader.

A long-time hiking and running companion of Jerry Schad’s, Endicott partnered on field research leading to the first edition of Afoot & Afield: San Diego County. He advised and supported fieldwork for the fifth edition of the book with coauthor Scott Turner. Endicott contributed hike write-ups and photography for “Roam-O-Rama” and the recently published San Diego Natural History Museum’s Coast to Cactus: The Canyoneer Trail Guide to San Diego Outdoors. His photography has been featured in print and online publications for Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Cabrillo National Monument, Yosemite National Park, and the Yosemite Conservancy. This is his first book.

Jerry Schad’s several careers encompassed interests ranging from astronomy and teaching to photography and writing. Schad held bachelor’s and master’s degrees in astronomy, taught physical science and astronomy at San Diego Mesa College, and chaired the Mesa College Physical Sciences Department.

Schad was the author of 16 books, including a college-level textbook for introductory physical science courses and the top-selling Afoot & Afield series of hiking guidebooks that cover nearly all of Southern California. He became interested in astronomy at age 12, took up astronomical photography a few years later, and had some 1,500 astronomical photographs published in media around the world.

Schad’s outdoor column, “Roam-O-Rama,” was published weekly in the San Diego Reader 1993–2011, and his San Diego Reader blog, “Outdoor San Diego,” kept San Diegans up-to-date on a variety of natural events in the sky and on Earth.

At one time, Schad ran a 100-mile trail race across the Sierra Nevada in 24 hours. He also bicycled 352 miles from San Jose to the outskirts of Los Angeles in even less time.

In the last year of his life, Schad enjoyed spending time with his wife, Peg Reiter, as they walked, hiked, traveled, and enjoyed time in their high-rise residential tower in downtown San Diego.

In the months preceding his death at age 61 from kidney cancer, Schad worked tirelessly and with courageous joy and spirit to complete the final stages of the first edition of this book.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Double Peak

Trailhead Location: San Marcos, near California State University
Trail Use: Hiking, running, dog walking, mountain biking, horseback riding
Distance & Configuration: 4.6-mile out-and-back
Elevation Range: 670' at the start to 1,644' at the peak
Facilities: Water and restrooms at the start and on the summit of Double Peak
Highlights: Panoramic views of the entire inland North County area, along with an ocean vista from the top


South of the spreading suburbs that cluster along CA 78, a scruffy ridgeline scrapes the southern sky. Topographic maps note the obscure names of its various high points: Cerro de las Posas, Double Peak, Franks Peak, and Mount Whitney (not that Whitney but still the highest of the group). Double Peak, our destination on this hike, is the most hiker-friendly. Its summit lies within a City of San Marcos regional/interpretive park that takes full advantage of the peak’s panoramic view. When the park was completed in 2009, it became possible to drive all the way to the summit from the San Elijo Hills housing development on the south side. Our chosen route, however, goes up Double Peak’s mostly undeveloped north slope and capitalizes on a roughly 1,000-foot elevation change. That is appealing, of course, only if you’re amenable to a bit of vigorous exercise.


You begin at Lakeview Park next to a small reservoir called Discovery Lake. A flat 0.8-mile trail, popular with everyone from runners to parents pushing strollers, loops around the lake. Our way to Double Peak, though, takes you across the lake’s dam to a paved, traffic-free maintenance road heading south and sharply up a hillside through chaparral vegetation. Numbered white trail signs are located at key points all the way up, including at trail junctions and street crossings. Simply head in the direction of the red arrows labeled DOUBLE PEAK TRAIL. Soon, you go into and then out of a hillside residential development. Just continue uphill toward a large, hillside water tank. Just shy of the tank, turn left on a fenced dirt path and climb very steeply through chaparral nicely recovering from the last big fire in 1996. North-slope vegetation such as this requires about 40 years of growth to reach a climax stage, and this stand is on its way.

At the next trail intersection―1.1 miles from the start and identified with one of the Double Peak Trail signs and a low-to-the-ground, circular brass plaque labeled SAN ELIJO HILLS 10K LOOP START―turn sharply right and continue climbing more moderately until you reach a multiuse recreation path running along the ridgeline. Make a left there (going southeast), and you will soon come to Double Peak Drive, which at this point is curling up from the San Elijo Hills housing development. Simply get on the sidewalk and continue walking steeply uphill until you reach Double Peak Park’s parking lot.

Scattered eucalyptus trees and olive trees, relics from an old homesite, dot the summit itself, and now those trees have been joined by picnic tables thoughtfully placed to frame the spectacular view. At the very top, a free-to-use swiveling telescope that rotates 360 degrees is affixed to the center of a concrete pad and can be used for sighting key landmarks. The extent of the view depends on the season, with late fall and winter months generally providing the greatest atmospheric transparency. Even on an average day, you can at least glimpse Southern California’s highest mountain ranges (the San Gabriels, San Bernardinos, and San Jacintos) in the north and the shining Pacific Ocean to the west and southwest. On days of exceptional atmospheric clarity, add to that list Santa Catalina Island offshore from Orange and Los Angeles Counties and the Coronado Islands off the northern Baja coast. At this point you can retrace your steps back to the trailhead. 


GPS Coordinates: N33º 7.477' W117º 10.737'

Exit CA 78 at Twin Oaks Valley Road (which ultimately becomes San Elijo Road, but you won’t go that far) in San Marcos (Exit 13). Turn south and proceed 0.8 mile to Craven Road. Turn right on Craven and continue 0.7 mile to Foxhall Drive. Turn left on Foxhall and proceed to the end of the road and into the parking lot for Lakeview Park and Discovery Lake.

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Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ 0899978800
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Wilderness Press; 2nd edition (February 13, 2018)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 208 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 9780899978802
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0899978802
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 8.8 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 66 ratings

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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
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Reviewed in the United States on March 3, 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome guide!
By Sharon on March 2, 2020
This is such a rad book for those wanting to get into hiking into San Diego or for those just looking for new trails! I’ve only had it 2 months and we’ve knocked out 11 trails so far! Great trails, ones I’ve never heard of and awesome info on them all! Definitely would recommend.
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