Distance: 7.5 miles round trip on trail
Summit Elevation: 1152'
Elevation Gain: 900'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 0.72
Round trip time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Recommended water: 48 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free at Sunset Drive parking lot
I went back to Escondido to hike Bernardo Mountain next to Lake Hodges. Bernardo is the smallest mountain on the San Diego Hundred Peaks list, ranked by elevation at number 100 out of 100. It is close to Mt. Israel and I would have preferred to hike it in the same trip as Mt. Israel to minimize driving, but time is always the limiting factor. There are no restrooms at the trailhead, but there is a portable toilet about a mile down the trail near the Lake.
There are multiple trails that wind around the north and south sides of Bernardo. The approach from Sunset Drive parallels I-15 south, then cuts under it and parallels the other side going north until the trail breaks away and follows the Lake Hodges shoreline for a bit. It crosses Felicita Creek, then traces the base of the mountain completely around to the north side before ascending. It appears the trail may never head up, but eventually it does with some long switchbacks at a gentle grade.
There were many mountain bikers and hikers out on a sunny Sunday with temps hitting the high 80s. The north side of the mountain affords some shade and the bikers thinned out on the summit trail. I jogged the down hills and several flat areas. It wasn't much of a challenge, but the jogging got my heart rate up and the views got progressively better. For such a small mountain, there were impressive 360 views of the Lake and surrounding area. No register or benchmarks found.
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