Bernardo Bay Trail - San Dieguito River Park
- 2.5 miles - Easy Effort
- 1-2 Hours (Total)
- 250 Total Feet of Climbing
- Max Elevation of 410 feet
- Leashed Dogs Allowed
The Bernardo Bay Trail in San Dieguito River Park is a natural oasis, just minutes off the I-15 freeway. In this short loop hike on the banks of Lake Hodges, you'll enjoy great water views, a variety of fauna, and a ton of wildlife. In fact, this whole area is known as a birding hotspot. And while I wouldn't travel hours to do this hike on its own, its location just off the I-15 makes it a great spot for a quick leg-stretching rest stop.
- Video and Turn-by-Turn Bernardo Bay Trail Hike Directions
- Parking For the Bernardo Bay Trail
- Insider Tips and Recommendations for the Hike
When planning, always check the park website and social media to make sure the trails are open. Similarly, check the weather and road conditions.
Where Is the Bernardo Bay Trail?
The Bernardo Bay Trail is located in San Dieguito River Park, next to Lake Hodges, just of I-15 at exit 26. There is an official San Dieguito River Park parking lot by the hike, but it fills up quickly with mountain bikers, locals, and dog walkers. It's much better to park around the corner at the huge Rancho Bernardo Community Park parking lot. In this guide I'll start and end the hike from this big lot.
Use this trailhead address:
18448 W Bernardo Drive, San Diego, CA 92127
Gear for the Hike
This is a flat and easy hike, and you can probably get away with doing it in any type of clothing. Light hiking gear or fitness clothes work well. There's no shade on the hike, so bring sun protection. If you have binoculars or a long camera lens, bring them. There's a lot of wildlife spotting here.
Top Spring 2023 Gear Picks
Osprey Stratos and Sirrus 24 Daypack ( Amazon | Sirrus REI | Stratos REI )
Garmin Mini 2 Satellite Communicator ( Amazon | REI )
Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles ( REI | Amazon )
As a hiking guide, I test lots of hiking gear. On my picks page, I'll show you all of the gear that I actually use. I don't accept paid promotions or talk about the stuff that doesn't make the cut. It's just the gear that works best, so you don't have to waste your money.
All My March 2023 Top Gear Picks
Bernardo Bay Trail Maps
The trails here are all well-worn and easy to follow. Most trails don't have signage, but if you follow the directions below, you will be fine.
Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File
Free Nav Tools: GaiaGPS - AllTrails
Guides to Help You Navigate
Bernardo Bay Trail Hike Directions
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Turn by Turn Directions
Lake Hodges is a man-made lake that is used as a reservoir. It's also home to its own sea monster, Hodgee.
This Guide Was Written by Cris Hazzard
Hi, I'm Cris Hazzard, aka Hiking Guy, a professional outdoors guide, hiking expert, and author based in Southern California. I created this website to share all the great hikes I do with everyone else out there. This site is different because it gives detailed directions that even the beginning hiker can follow. I also share what hiking gear works and doesn't so you don't waste money. I don't do sponsored or promoted content; I share only the gear recommendations, hikes, and tips that I would with my family and friends. If you like the website and YouTube channel, please support these free guides (I couldn't do it without folks like you!).
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