Calvera Lake Carlsbad
Carlsbad, CA 92010
The Pulse loves hiking and exploring the amazing things to do in San Diego. We are always looking for a new place to go hiking, especially dog friendly locations so we can bring our furry babies Isabella & Romeo our two German Shepherd Rescue dogs.
We heard about this hike from one of our favorite local blogs, Hidden San Diego, and saw that there were several unique facts about this hiking trail which piqued our interest.
First of all, at one point, this was a volcano; it’s now extinct. The terrain and beauty is worth the trek! There are several hikes you can take. We originally decided on the 6.2 mile hike that loops all around the lake, then got distracted by the thought of finding the secret caves and labyrinths that are rumored to be here. We caught a glimpse of what looked like a cave when we were going to head towards the school then made a last minute decision to head left before you get to the school and up the hill towards the volcano. (After we read the sign that said there were bears and rattle snacks in this area.) WHAT???
We stumbled upon a cool cave that is off the beaten path but not too hard to find. It is before you get to the volcano. It looks like you could fit 8-9 people in the cave and it is a bit spooky when you see it. According to Hidden San Diego it’s actually an old exploratory mine, known as an “adit”. This adit was mainly used as a rock quarry for valuable minerals. The Calavera Hills contains a volcanic plug which is found throughout North County San Diego. The plug contains a fine-grain basalt which actually clogged the volcano’s throat millions of years ago. After its last eruption, the cone slowly eroded, leaving only the plug. For almost 25 years, miners used the plug to mine gravel, speeding up the erosion process. We ventured in for some photos and video.
We then stumbled upon a cool Labyrinth that is right in front of the volcano and is in the shape of a heart. Pretty cool. What is a labyrinth you ask? In Greek mythology, the Labyrinth (Greek λαβύρινθος labyrinthos,) was an elaborate structure designed and built by the legendary artificer Daedalus for King Minos of Crete at Knossos. Its function was to hold the Minotaur eventually killed by the hero Theseus. I am not quite sure who built this one and actually there are 3 that you can see if you trek up the volcano and look down!
“Calavera means skull (in Spanish), which probably comes from the unusual shape of the area’s centerpiece, Mount Calavera,” says Preserve Calavera, a nonprofit citizens’ organization formed about 10 years ago to protect this open space. I think it is fitting as their is quite a bit of mystery in this preserve. We saw some interesting old buildings/forts that had been spray painted.
What’s incredible about this property is the diverse plant and wildlife that’s out here. The lake attracts birds you typically don’t see in upland coastal sage scrub habitats, like egrets, herons, ducks and other water fowl. On a positive note, we did not see any rattle snacks or bears. We did film, take photos, and strap on the go pro head mount for you. We really loved the hike and highly recommend it. Oh, by the way, the last part back to your car is all uphill so be prepared to get a booty workout. Bring lots of water too as it is warm in the summer! If you are an avid biker, this is a great spot for some mountain biking!