Take a Hike: Elfin Forest, California
The majestic luscious trail of Elfin Forest in the outskirts of San Elijo, California is one of my favorite hikes in San Diego. Here's why:
You should be able to trek up the mountain and descend in a matter of an hour and a half (or sooner, if you're in good shape).
It's Enchanted (and Haunted)
There are no elves- but there are witches. The 411 on Elfin Forest is that it's haunted by a white witch and huge owl. Read more about that here.
I've done a ton of hiking in Southern California and Elfin Forest is exactly that...a green forest. When you begin the trail there's a river at the base of the mountain that is so picturesque it literally brings photographers out of the city to photograph couples and families (note: you need a permit). About 20 minutes from the start, the switchbacks zig and zag above a botanical trail. At the top, you'll get views of the Olivenhain Reservoir.
It's Close to Civilization
It takes about 15 minutes from Carlsbad to drive to Elfin Forest. Basically close enough to not feel like your whole day is devoted to hiking, yet far enough to immerse yourself in the great outdoors.