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Hike to Stanley Peak in Daley Ranch

Hike to Stanley Peak at Daley Ranch in Escondido

Hike to Stanley Peak at Daley Ranch in Escondido

Everyone needs a peak in their backyard, and 1,975′ Stanley Peak in Escondido’s Daley Ranch makes a great go-to hike that you can finish before lunch. This loop route gives you a fine overview of historic Daley Ranch, with sweeping views over much of north San Diego County.

Trail Details
Summit: 1,975′ 
Distance: 6.4 miles
Time: 3-4 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation gain: 890 ft
Dogs: Yes
When to go: Year-round
The trail itself has very little shade, so it’s best to hike this early in the day and avoid those hot summer days altogether. And of course, wear a hat.

Getting to the Trailhead

Daley Ranch can be reached at 3024 La Honda Drive, Escondido, CA 92027. The unpaved parking lot for Daley Ranch gets crowded on the weekends and people end up parking down the hill. It’s best to get there early to avoid the head of mid-day and the worst of the crowds.

The park is open from dawn to dusk. Dogs are allowed on leash, though the trails can get hot in the afternoon. The historic Daley Ranch House (which is on this loop) is open the second Sunday of the month from 11am to 2pm. For the latest park info, call 760-839-4680.

Hiking to Stanley Peak

There are 20 miles of trails in Daley Ranch, and a number of routes that you could take to get to the summit. We stitched together this loop with a short out-and-back segment to Stanley Peak, and passing by Mallard Lake and the old Daley Ranch House.

This counter-clockwise loop begins at the entrance to Daley Ranch, and follows the Creek Crossing Trail east for about 0.7 miles. This is a broad, dusty double-track that is shared by mountain bikes, horses and hikers. Creek Crossing ends at the East Ridge Trail. Turn right here (southeast) and hike roughly 300 yards to where it ends at the Sage Trail. Turn left (northeast).

Our hiking crew in Daley Ranch

You’ll stay on the dusty Sage Trail as it winds its way through the rolling, rocky hills. Continue past the junction with the Caballo Trail, Quail Run, Coyote Run and the Old Tank spur.

On the Sage Trail in Daley Ranch

As the Sage Trail climbs, the views begin to open up.

Finally, when you reach the spur trail to Stanley Peak, turn right and follow it to the summit — roughly 0.7 miles each way. The trail starts with a fairly flat section.

The Stanley Peak Trail in Daley Ranch

Soon you climb higher, with a great view of the rusted Old Water Tank and the valley below.

Looking down at the Old Tank in Daley Ranch

At the summit, there are boulders to scramble on. If you’re lucky, you might find a scrap of shade to protect you from the sun. And there are the views. Looking east you can see Palomar Mountain, and south the city of Escondido.

After soaking in the views, refueling with snacks and water, head back down the spur trail.

A rare patch of shade on the Sage Trail in Daley Ranch

When you rejoin the Sage Trail, bear to the right (west). This will take you past idyllic Mallard Lake.

Idyllic Mallard Lake along the Sage Trail in Daley Ranch

Continue on Sage toward the old Ranch House, joining the Ranch House Trail – a smooth dirt road that sees occasional use from park vehicles. You’ll pass right through many of the historic buildings from the Daley Ranch.

On the Ranch House Road in Daley Ranch

In the ranch complex, there are restrooms, picnic tables and perhaps best of all on a hot, sunny day, ample shade trees.

From the ranch house, it’s under a mile of easy hiking back to the trailhead to finish the loop.

Stanley Peak Trail Map & Elevation Profile

Download file: daley-ranch-to-wild-cucumber-escondido-ca-2.gpx

When in Escondido, eat at Burger BenchLocal Tips

  • Did I mention that there’s a lot of sun exposure on this hike? Bring a hat, sunscreen and plenty of water. Start hiking before the worst heat of the day, and avoid altogether on really hot days.
  • After the hike, head to Burger Bench in quaint downtown Escondido. Awesome burgers and local craft beers on tap, and the owner also happens to be a hiking blogger. Tell Derek that SoCalHiker sent you! 

Related Resources

Daley Ranch Weather Forecast

[forecast width=”100%” location=”92027″]

Originally hiked on February 27, 2016. Thanks to Joan, Alyx, Josh, Christopher, Kam, Derek, Traci, Paul, Yoko, Mark, Bev, and Amy for joining me on this hike. 

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