Daley Ranch Project

Land Manager: City of Escondido


Daley Ranch - City of Escondido Webpage

Daley Ranch is a 3,058-acre conservation area acquired and managed in perpetuity

by the City of Escondido for the preservation of a biologically unique and diverse

habitat area of regional importance, while providing a variety of recreational and

educational opportunities and experiences for the enjoyment of the community in

a historically significant setting.

Daley Ranch is located in the northeastern portion of the City of Escondido, north of Dixon Lake and west of Valley Center Road. Access is provided via three entrances; La Honda Drive to the south, Valley Center Road to the east, and Cougar Pass Road to the west.

Daley Ranch has over 20 miles of multi-use trails including over seven miles of single track. Daley Ranch definitely involves elevation change with an average of 500’ elevation change from each for the three entrances to access the ridgeline trails. Of course this elevation change translates to some great downhill adventures on some very fun single tracks such as Crest, Bobcat and Caballo. Loops without as much elevation change are available such as Ranch House Road to Meadow loop. Generally, Daley Ranch is considered at least a moderate level ride experience due to the elevation and trail types.

While Daley Ranch is beloved by many passionate trail users, the existing trail system does not optimize user experience due to lack of trail planning, difficult access, significant erosion and overall poor trail alignments. The trail system consists of the remnants of old ranch roads and has never been optimized to incorporate the natural beauty, topography or other positive aspects of Daley Ranch. The potential for trail improvement and overall user experience improvements is very high at Daley Ranch.

The City of Escondido and the San Diego Mountain Biking Association (SDMBA) have a Memorandum of Understanding that formalizes the ongoing partnership between the City and SDMBA to support the social and environmental sustainability of the trail network at Daley Ranch. This partnership has been successful in the maintenance and planning for trail sustainability through volunteer efforts, financial donations and the technical expertise provided by SDMBA in both planning and field operations.

Some of the highlights this partnership has produced are:

January 2021 - SDMBA received a grant from the National Environmental Education Foundation to purchase trail usage counters and accompanying software from TrafX. The data collected helps the City of Escondido to better understand and manage the trails at Daley Ranch. The data shows that Daley Ranch averages nearly 200,000 visitors annually with approximately 75,000 of those being mountain bikers. To learn more about the trail counters we use click here. SDMBA conducted a Trail User Survey in March of 2021 to also gather data about the number of visitors, how often they visit, and what their primary activities are at Daley Ranch.

November 2022 - Global Action Sports Solutions (GASS) completed a grant funded trail assessment and rehabilitation plan for the 2.2 mile Caballo and Quail trails. Pending City of Escondido approval SDMBA professional Trails Staff and volunteers will complete this project in Spring of 2023. This entire project was funded by a $25,000 Athletic Brewing Company grant.

December 2022, we completed work on a IMBA Trail Accelerator Grant awarded in 2019. This project has resulted in a Daley Ranch Trails Conceptual Plan that will be used to help guide the City of Escondido in sustainable trail planning decisions for Daley Ranch. This project was funded in partnership with the Valley Center Trails Association and the Friends of Daley Ranch, and amazing SDMBA sponsors such as BoochCraft who donated $5,000 towards the grant matching funds.

January 2023 was the start of a new program for SDMBA, the Daley Ranch Trail Crew. The Daley Ranch Trail Crew is composed of SDMBA volunteers that have completed an 8hr course on trail maintenance techniques and are City of Escondido volunteers. Following the training the Trail Crew members are authorized to complete trail maintenance in small groups or as individuals within Daley Ranch. The Trail Crew is intended to be a highly mobile, very flexible group that greatly assists with trail maintenance projects.

On-going volunteer trail maintenance days have been completed at Daley Ranch since 2019. At these events we have 20+ volunteers work for four hours improving drainage and repairing damaged tread. Dependent upon trail moisture needed for trail work we schedule six trail work days per year.

SDMBA staff and volunteers are working hard to bring significant improvements to the Daley Ranch trail system. As we have experienced this is a complex multi year project that has much work ahead with many small incremental successes along the way.

Daley Ranch is truly a unique gem that is already a regional destination. With hard work, attentive stewardship and great partners SDMBA hopes to help the City of Escondido improve the user experience and long term environmental sustainability of Daley Ranch. We are very welcoming of partners in our efforts and encourage you to reach out if you would like to support our work at Daley Ranch.  

Recap of the amazing work done by the Daley Ranch Trail Crew in the 22-23 winter season: