As we’ve discussed before, one of the best parts of San Diego is that the urban sprawl has left many canyons and peaks free for us to enjoy between patches of development. This applies to North County even more, where most of the newly minted communities have been constructed to include open space from the beginning. Such is the case for the Double Peak trail in San Marcos. Lucky residents of the Twin Oaks Valley neighborhood, where the hike starts, have wide paved paths that are far more substantial than the sidewalks in most communities, and these paths were in wide use when we came along. You start out walking by Discovery Lake, a small fishing pond surrounded by oak trees, walking trails and benches. Climbing uphill towards the Double Peak summit, you pass nicer and nicer houses through the neighborhood trail system, until you leave the development behind, thankfully exchanging the paved trail for dirt.
Even on a fairly cool February day, the hike heats up quickly with no shade to escape under. The 2014 wildfires burned through this area, and the trail served as a fire line, so you’ll be hiking with the natural low brush on your right and the burned remnants on your left at some points. There are a few select spots along the trail to grab a shaded rest break, but don’t attempt this hike without water, especially in the summer. You’ll start to gain a great view to the North after a little progress, with the span of the 78 from Oceanside to Escondido visible.
At the last leg of the hike, you’ll meet up with Double Peak Drive – also known as the cheater’s way up the hill. There’s a nice park at the top to allow you to comfortably enjoy your summit along with those that summited with the aid of gasoline and AC, with a free telescope that will let you see clear to Downtown San Diego to the South or Palomar Mountain to the North if it’s a clear enough day, or watch the planes flying into Palomar Airport. If you have members in your group that aren’t up for the hike, this is one of the best views in San Diego county that don’t require a hike – and you have my permission to use a car if that’s the case. Otherwise – enjoy the hike!