Distance: 4.4 miles round trip on trail
Summit Elevation: 1346'
Elevation Gain: 1316'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 1.05
Round trip time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Recommended water: 32 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free at Del Dios trailhead
Another week with limited time restricted my targets to small, short distance peaks. I went south this time to Mt. Israel near Escondido, another mountain on the San Diego 100 peaks list. I had tried to find Mt. Israel on my way back after being turned away from El Cajon in August by a grumpy ranger, but could not find the trailhead. After reading a Bob Burd trip report, I found the Del Dios Preserve trailhead.
The gate to the trailhead was closed, so I had to park across the highway and sprint across when traffic allowed. The sprint across the highway turned out to be the most exciting part of the hike. There is a dirt road that winds up and around an unnamed bump with most of the elevation gain. On the way up, I got a partial view of Lake Hodges and Bernardo Mountain. The trail is dog and horse friendly, and there was evidence of both dogs and horses on the trail. I met several hikers with their dogs in tow, and some dogs with hikers in tow. Once past the initial bump, it is a short trip down to a saddle, then up the Equine Incline trail to the summit of Mt. Israel, also known as the Elfin Forest Overlook. Views from the summit were somewhat limited. I had to go about 100 feet off trail to get a good shot of the Olivenhain Dam and Reservoir. There was a dog memorial plaque set in a wooden pole on the summit. This is really dog country. The trip back was uneventful and after another sprint across the highway, I headed home.
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