San Diego Backyard Gem: Lake Hodges, Escondido CA

The perks of living in San Diego is pretty awesome. The weather, the beach, the food, the wine, it’s diverse landscape and accessibility to the rest of California make it ripe for local travel. You can go rock climbing in the desert or snowboarding in the mountains one day and then paddle out into the ocean the next. The possibilities for weekend exploration is limitless. All you need is sunblock and possibly a GPS if you are directionally challenged.

Which brings us to POTM’s featured local travel spot: Lake Hodges. This San Diego backyard gem is located in the North County of Escondido which is a mere 30 minutes away from downtown. Lake Hodges is also a reservoir which supplies water to the San Dieguito Water District and Santa Fe Irrigation District.

I would recommend Lake Hodges to anyone who enjoys fishing, hiking, cycling or even just nature in general. Many of the paths and facilities are very well maintained, but still rustic and keeping in the theme. You can also go to the Lake Hodges Bridge west of the I-15 freeway. It is a bicycle/pedestrian bridge which opened on May 15, 2009 and apparently is the longest stressed ribbon bridge in the world.

How to get there

From Interstate 15, exit on Via Rancho Parkway, go west to Lake Drive, then south on Lake Drive to the lake entrance which will be on your left. From the entrance it’s about one mile to the concession/launch area

Days & hours open

Hodges concession is open Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Things to do

Fishing, watercraft, hiking, riding, biking, sailing, running, cycling and picknicking. For more information visit: or call Phone: 760-432-2023

Interesting Tidbit

There have been rumors of a monster residing at Lake Hodges. In the late 1920s, reports began to circulate of a strange creature spotted in the waters of the lake. The first official report came in 1929, when the mayor of Escondido formally asked San Diego officials to look into reports of a creature in the lake.

The monster became known as Hodgee, and various research projects have produced only blurry photographs and vague reports of a creature with a “lizard-like head.” Reports continued until as late as 1966, when two families picnicking at the lake were frightened by a large creature that surfaced about 50 yards off shore.

Hodgee is most likely the work of eager promoters, but complete details are available at

Check out some of the photos below:

The narrow winding road leads to a beautiful view of the lake.

Lake Hodges is also a spot for bikers looking for a scenic route.

One of the few boat docks in the area. Note that Lake Hodges has strict watercraft restrictions and a no swim policy (boo!).

It also has a long and narrow shape.

The perfect thinking bench…nothing but the crisp blue water and the sky ahead.

The topography changes from elevated vistas to marsh-like wetlands. The surrounding areas also includes streams, lush river valleys, canopied oak forests, arid rocky terrain and open fields

I honestly do not know how this car got there. But I half expected zombie hands to suddenly reach out from it. B movie location, anyone?