Overview: Fletcher Point Lake Hodges Trail Guide
My wife and I recently were kayaking around Lake Hodges. In the middle of Lake Hodges dividing the lake into two distinct sides is Fletcher Point. While we were paddling around the lake I saw a large American Flag on this high point and instantly wanted to hike there. The rolling green hills around Lake Hodges are beautiful and I knew our next adventure at the lake would be on foot!
⚠️ Update: The knowledgeable staff over at the San Diego Hiking Society reached out to me and let me know this trail is actually not open and should not be hiked. There were no signs or fences up when my wife and I were there, and I just found the trail on a Caltopo map.
The San Dieguito River Park (SDRP) who manages this land has no info on their website mentioning the trail is closed as well. I ended up reaching out to SDRP via their email address to confirm and here is what they said:
"Hello Mike and thank you for reaching out to us. The trail in question is not a legal trail and is not a maintained trail within the sdrp trail system. The city of San Diego has tried putting signs and fence lines up many times only to be taken down. We are trying to work with Google maps in changing the designation of that trailhead".
I am trying to get more info on why this trail is closed to the public since it is on City land and will post updates in this thread below as I get more information.
When we got home from our kayaking day trip, I instantly started doing research. I didn't even know Fletcher Point was called Fletcher Point at the time, but I pulled up Caltopo and started looking for trails and plotting a route up to the American Flag.
The route I planned was about 7.78 miles round trip, and started from the Rancho Bernardo Rec Center parking lot.
This hike was one of the most fun local San Diego hikes that I have done in awhile!
Fletcher Point Trail Map
The Fletcher Point map above can be viewed and downloaded from Caltopo here. The terrain statistics above are just one way, you will have to hike back as well 😉
Fletcher Point Trail Guide
We parked at the Rancho Bernardo Rec Center. Just across the street is the Fletcher Point Trailhead. I marked the trailhead with the blue pin below:
ℹ️ Gear Recommendations
Check out the Ten Digit Grid Gear Locker for expert gear recommendations for your next adventure, including detailed descriptions of why each item belongs in your pack.
At the trailhead, I was so excited to get out on the trail that I didn't look at my map and immediately went the wrong way. We technically did not get lost because I realized what I did in about 15 steps on the trail. We didn't have to backtrack to get back on the right trail; we just did a U-turn using other trails to get back on track.
The picture above shows the trailhead. To the right of those signs, the trail opens up to a nice wide trail that lured us in that direction. However the actual trail head I had originally plotted is the much narrower trail just to the left of the signs.
You can see our slight detour in the screenshot from my Garmin Fenix 7 GPS watch (Amazon Affiliate) data below. On the way back we took the "right" trail to get back to the parking lot.
It's a little embarrassing that we got off on the wrong foot since I did upload my Caltopo map to my Garmin Fenix 7 (Amazon Affiliate) and there is little an arrow that shows up and points you in the right direction... and it will literally vibrate if you go off course....
I swear I am normally much better with maps and navigation.
Once on trail, the trail starts off very flat, wide and nicely groomed. One of the aspects that makes this an interesting hike is the diverse scenery you encounter while hiking.
Initially you will be hiking towards the South West, not hiking towards Lake Hodges. You will not even see Lake Hodges until around 1.5 miles into the hike.
As you get closer to the housing development that is just South of Lake Hodges, you hit a couple quick and easy switchbacks as the trail begins to slightly climb upwards. If conditions are right, you might catch a glimpse of a tiny waterfall across from the fence on one of the switchbacks.
Earlier I mentioned the scenery changes often on this hike and around mile 1 we were at one of these points. As we rounded a turn or two and we found ourselves in a small forest oasis on a nice little bridge over a stream. For a few hundred feet I felt like I was no longer in Southern California.
Once we made it out of the small forest section we were back on a wide open smooth trail that flattened out. At this point there are a number of intersecting trails, so make sure you verify on your map where you are and where you want to go. If you take a wrong turn here you may end up in a housing development, and that is not half as exciting as a cool peak surrounded by water and a gigantic American flag.
We chose a route that follows a small finger that overlooks Lake Hodges. This is where we had our first real great view of the lake!
After the overlook, the trail begins to approach the lake itself. From this point forward the trail runs parallel Lake Hodges all the way to Fletcher Point.
At this part the trail becomes really fun, with stunning views the entire rest of the route. I was grinning from ear to ear the entire way to Fletcher Point.
Around mile 2.5 the trail to Fletcher Point begins to pick up some elevation as you climb the ridge line that parallels the lake. The views on this section are awesome and there are lots of great spots for photos.
There are one or two small sections where the trail is a bit narrow and has some exposure. Make sure you watch your step and take it nice and slow.
Now that you have climbed up and have some great views across the lake, you can see Fletcher Point just off in the distance.
This cliffside trail along the lake gave me slight Hawaii vibes and briefly brought me back to our honeymoon hike on Kauai. We may not have been on a tropical island, but we felt a world away from home. It was beautiful being able to see the green hillsides with the water everywhere we looked. San Diego is obviously not always this green, so again we did get a bit lucky when we went on this hike.
As you get to the saddle before the final climb up to Fletcher Point there is one final trail intersection. This trail I believe goes down to the water. We did not explore it on this hike, but I believe I saw the other end of it while we were Kayaking Lake Hodges. Our next adventure may have to be a paddle to the trail and then a hike to Fletcher Point!
As we made our approach, the American flag slowly began to become larger and larger.
This was a fantastic section of trail! While approaching Fletcher Point, you really do feel as if you are on an island even though you are not. You look right, you see water, you look left you see water, and if you look straight you have one final steep climb up to the top!
When we finally made it to the top, the majestic American flag flew proud in the strong winds. Again, it felt like being on an island hike with seeing water in almost every direction that you looked. Fletcher Point did not disappoint. We took some time to relax and enjoy the view before heading back on the route that took us here.
Although this was an epic hike, we only saw a handful of individuals enjoying this perfect day. I must say this is my new favorite hike in San Diego!