Escondido is Spanish for “hidden,” but its adventurous ales and tasty trails are right out in the open. It’s home to the not-so-secret Stone Brewing, largest brewery in Southern California, and a 2.5-mile loop trail that’s just a stone’s throw and a hop away.
Park in the big lot at the north end of the brewery, marked by a “Trail Parking” sign. At the east end of the lot, you’ll find an unnamed dirt path (we call it Gargoyle’s Grove, after the brewery’s mascot). It’s the beginning of a par course, though there’s probably no human in sight, despite its proximity to the popular watering hole. After a quick hamstring stretch, head right, gradually ascending above the Hidden Hills community. The trail proceeds north through a surprising variety of trees, from pine to oak to sycamore to eucalyptus, eventually rewarding you with views that extend to Palomar Mountain.
The track descends sharply and deposits you at the intersection of Auto Park Way and Citracado Parkway. Cross Citracado and resume the marked trail that heads south parallel to the road. Eastern Escondido vistas are constant as you meander past bright red blooms of bottlebrush and even olive trees. Soon you’ll cross a paved road with a giant Stone logo before you continue to Andreasen Drive. Here, turn right and cross the road as the loop continues past some barriers. (Continue south for a quick detour to a grove of towering oaks.) The path gradually ascends north, flanked by more arboreal diversity amid a backdrop of beer tanks and the artichoke-like aroma of the brewery at work.
Back at the lot, a beautiful natural paved walkway leads to the Stone Brewing doors. The tap list is extensive and constantly changing, with proven classics and experimental brews. Grab a beer (here, it’s IPA all the way) and a bite at the indoor or outdoor bar and take it for a stroll around the gorgeous organic beer garden before plopping down on a lounge chair next to the waterfall, koi pond, or bamboo forest. You’re in hop heaven!
Take the I-15 to CA-78 west, exiting Nordahl Rd. Turn left and head south, continuing on Auto Park Way. Turn right onto Citracado Pkwy., and after 0.6 mile, turn right into the parking lot for the Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens. No dogs at Stone Brewery, but the trail is dog-friendly!