James Murren
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Hiking Elfin Forest

By James Murren

The Earning

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve in north county San Diego has about eleven miles of trails open to hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. The Escondido River courses its way through the reserve, creating a riparian environment that has water flowing through it, even in late August. We chose the Way Up Trail, a good option with a variety of terrain. Down low along the lazily moving water, we hopped on boulders, rocks and stepping stones under the canopy of a spectacular oak forest.

Grinding our way up to the top, our heart rates spiked in the 1.4 miles and nearly 750 feet of elevation gain on rocky, technical terrain. I reminisced about mountain biking up it years ago, when hundreds of us actually managed to pedal it for the San Diego Mountain Biking Association’s (SDMBA) Archipelago Ride fundraiser. It is steep and chunky with tight switchbacks. How much did we actually clean?

Up top, there was a spider web of trails and dirt roads. We hiked in  a meandering gait in the direction of the reservoir and then looped our way back around towards the picnic area to relax and enjoy the moment. Bird songs lilted and then suddenly, we heard and saw a hawk floating above us, wings spread and riding the thermals. Eventually, we stepped in the direction of the Way Up Trail to go back down. The air was warming quickly as we descended. At the bottom and along the river that looked more like a creek, we stayed and listened to the river.  We sat peacefully until other hikers came and their dogs splashed about in the water, having a wonderful time. We laughed and commented how much fun they seemed to be having while cooling off.


The Beer

The Lost Abbey is one of San Diego’s most revered breweries. Known for its ode to “old-world” beers that people enjoy sipping (primarily various Belgian styles that include Trappist/Abbey offerings), they also brew typical West Coast style beers, e.g. IPA.

After hiking Elfin Forest, we stopped at The Lost Abbey/The Sanctuary in San Elijo where I had a pint of Amigo, a Mexican style lager. It was simply delicious. Light, clean and, as is sometimes the case, it was an easy-drinker. Amigo could have become my best friend that afternoon, but I had to drive home.

There are four Lost Abbey locations: The Tasting Room in San Marcos, The Sanctuary in San Elijo, The Confessional in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, and The Church in East Village/downtown San Diego. If you’re earning your beer in any of those locales, check out The Lost Abbey afterwards for a pour.


Read other Earn Your Beer columns here.