Tuesday, March 05, 2013

My Top Ten San Diego Hikes: (10)- Lake Hodges

Lake Hodges looking East

It is hard not to get outside in San Diego. The weather is beautiful year round. It is so scenically diverse. There are rugged ocean cliffs, mesas and canyons, mountains and valleys, and mind blowing desert geology. When I was still new to the area, one of my students told me that I should have no problem finding a place to hike because in San Diego, "if there is a hill, there is a trail!" True enough, I found that trails are almost everywhere. Escaping civilization became just a matter of minutes. Blame it on San Diego weather and outdoors, since I moved to this place, I lost the title I held for decades, as "paperback and movie critic" awarded to me by my friends being their movie and novel consultant. San Diego turned me into a "hiking rat"! 
Sunset @ Lake Hodges, Looking West
Because of the numerous trails and places to explore in San Diego, I can not claim that I am an expert of the place, and have explored all nooks and crannies of San Diego County. I know there are still many places in San Diego that awaits for our eyes to feast, for our minds to rest and for our hearts to take inspiration. After having been here in San Diego for almost nine years now, I can finally identify my top ten favorite San Diego Hikes, those places we so frequent. Perhaps these top 10 San Diego hikes closer to my heart are the very reasons why some other places in San Diego are still waiting for us to explore. I will start sharing my top ten San Diego Hikes from my number 10, and will end it with my most favorite at number 1. Probably, those who have shared my joys in this blog for quite some time now can easily guess which place would be in my number 1.
Let me introduce to you the number 10 in my list, 
LAKE HODGES- Best Trail For Birding
Photos of Me @ Lake Hodges
Pro: Very Accessible, so many trails around the lake. However, for us, we usually start our hike at Piedras Pintadas Trail. Then we cross the foot bridge that runs parallel I-15, and go West at the North Shore of Lake Hodges towards del Dios, or climb up Bernardo Mountain. 
Con 1: Very near civilization since part of the trail runs parallel to a major freeway, I-15, and even very close to one of San Diego County's big shopping malls. However, that is the beauty for me, in just a matter of minutes, after you round the mountains, it felt very remote, like in another world. it also feels good that I chose Lake Hodges over walking at North County Mall. :)
Con 2: Very popular for mountain bikers. In very narrow trails, hikers have to yield a lot of times. :(
Mileage: Lake Hodges is part of the 55-mile long San Dieguito River Park Coast to Crest Trail, so really, mileage depends on one's enthusiasm to explore. However, the lake has maybe 10 miles of trail around it. 
Degree of Difficulty: Anyone can choose the intensity of their hike, from an easy walk around the lake to climbing some of the mountain peaks around the Lake, such as Bernardo Mountain.
Highlights: Birds, birds, and more birds. 
Birds @ Lake Hodges

Lake Hodges is one of the best places for bird watching in San Diego. Birds are scattered around the lake, and it is not difficult to spot them. My most memorable experience here is the flock of egrets at sunset. 
Egrets in Flight, Sunset @ Lake Hodges
Change in Elevation: Again, the hike here can be just around the lake without much change in elevation, or a climb in the surrounding mountains, up to 1000+ ft change in elevation. There's a trail for anyone. If you love birds however, they mostly are around the lake. 
From here, I will let my collection of Lake Hodges pictures speak why this place is in my list of top ten favorite San Diego hikes. 
Note: The wildflowers pictures above were from the previous years. Carpeting spring wildflowers is not a guaranteed sighting every year because it depends on the amount of rain the area got during the winter, the time it started to warm up, among other factors. Some years were very good, some years had a little here and there blooms.
However, the birds, I believe are almost year round at Lake Hodges. There are different species of birds migrating at the lake at different seasons. It is not a surprise since " San Diego County is one of those rare and exciting destinations where a birder can enjoy four distinct bird habitats all in the space of one day. More than 480 species of birds have been observed in San Diego County, more than any other county in the United States. It is a bird haven along the Pacific Flyway - the diverse migratory route along the west coast of the United States, where many birds make their winter homes or nest." - source: http://www.sandiego.org/what-to-do/tours-sightseeing/bird-watching.aspx

In my next post, I will be sharing the number 9 in my top ten San Diego hikes' list.
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  1. Bets, the Lake is calling my name! Its a photographer's paradise! I'd come in a "heart beat" when the wildflowers are in bloom! I am training now for my 5k Revlon Walk in May!

    See you soon!

  2. if i were you Beth, everything will be my number 1 as i will definitely have a hard time choosing my faves. all your hiking photos to me looks heavenly. will surely wait for this series till number 1, parang alam ko na. hehehehe

  3. i guess, hiking/nature tripping is more fun and a great exercise. i wished our government here could find ways to enhance such kind of activities here, too. we have so many beautiful mountains with great scenery. i sooo loved your photos- the serene lake AND the wildflowers- MY!

  4. excited to learn what number 9 is! whew, what can I say, as always you wowed me with your poses haha, I could not focus my eyes on the background of your outdoor portraits simply because your smile and joy stands out :) Those wildflowers are so beautiful! stuff I have yet to see in person....can you please just pull me inside the computer to be there now? laughing hard on reading the part where you used to be a paperback and movie critic haha...Orly and I get to watch movies at least once a week these days...I do not however have had the time to talk about them yet haha, too many ideas and photos, too little time....adding Lake Hodges to my long list hahaha, those blue wings in flight are my favorite here! only next to your portraits though :) love yah!

  5. You are a professional hiker by now.

  6. I am not a hiker but I love reading about your hikes and seeing your pictures. It has all the benefits and none of the disadvantages.

  7. # 10 on your list? Eh, this could top my list. The blooms are just fascinating as well as those birds. You know me naman. I simply love Nature. Thanks for the share Betchai.

  8. I love all of it even I am not a big hiker as of now because of my daughter but hoping to hike very soon once she's out in the stroller and can walk for a long hour.Enjoy your paradise there,Betchai and I would agree with you there is no reason not to go out in if all the scenery are all like that.

  9. I am not much into hiking but if these are my trails I would be very much inspired to give it a try. Again..lovely photos esp. the spring wildflowers :)

  10. Super beautiful pictures! I love everything but my most favorite is the one with the white swam! It is so pure! :)

    I love nature-trekking, too! I guess we can agree on doing this together! LOL.

  11. So you've been the "paperback and movie critic" queen pala, Te Betchai. Hehe! I love that title for you but I love you more for being the "hiking rat" coz we get to see how beautiful the other part of the world is through your amazing captures. It's simply breathtaking. Words are sometimes not enough to express how wonderful God's creations are.

    Those flowers in bloom and the captivating seascape are such a sight to behold but nothing can beat the photos of you that standout amidst all these beauties around you. And oh man! Look at the sparkles in those eyes! I am on envy mode right here ;-)

  12. Oh Betchai..San Diego is just beautiful all around..I want to move there for the weather and for chances to enjoy nature year round!

  13. Wow! Lake Hodges is awesome. Everything is great!

  14. I only see lakes full of birds on tv shows. Sana someday, in person na talaga! :)