The content on this page is from William Sherrard's e-book
Hiker’s Guide to the Trails of Dixon Lake and Daley Ranch.

The southern end of the Cougar Ridge Trail is on the northern edge of the Boulder Loop Trail, and the northern end is at the Cougar Pass entrance to Daley Ranch. The trail is 3.77 miles long in total, with 1.15 miles of trail between Boulder Loop and the southern trailhead for the Engelmann Oak Trail. From here the trail continues 1.62 miles north to the Cougar Pass entrance to Daley Ranch.
This presentation covers the southern portion of the trail between Boulder Loop and the Engelmann Oak trails. The hike originates at the Boulder Loop end of the trail and ends 1.15 miles north at the southern trailhead for the Engelmann Oak Trail.

There is an elevation gain of 142 feet between the trailhead and the highest point along the trail. The latter occurs at the Engelmann Oak trailhead. This slight elevation gain, combined with the ease of walking the trail, gives the trail a “moderate” rating in terms of difficulty. Most of the elevation gain occurs in the last half mile of the trail.

Getting to the trailhead involves a 1.57 mile hike from the Ranch House Road trailhead at the La Honda Drive entrance to Daley Ranch. Starting at the Ranch House Road trailhead one hikes north 0.77 miles to the Boulder Loop North trailhead, thence 0.80 miles west to the Cougar Ridge trailhead. The trail is wide enough to accommodate the trucks operated by the Daley Ranch rangers.
The trailhead marker for the Cougar Ridge Trail indicates the trail is 2.80 miles long. This is virtually the same length as the 2.77 mile length indicated by the GPS reading for the trail.
If you are using a GPS unit on the hike be sure and set it back to 0.00 at the trailhead. All distances displayed on the slides assume your GPS unit has been set to zero at the beginning of the hike.
The trail starts out fairly level with only a slight elevation gain during the first 0.75 miles of the hike. This section of the trail displays a few flowering plants and several small green bushes.
At about 1/3 of a mile from the trailhead on the west side of the trail there are excellent views towards San Marcos. The area near the trail has some small patches of meadow.
At 0.46 miles into the hike is the northern trailhead for the Crest Trail. From here the Crest Trail goes south for 1.25 miles where it intersects the northern loop of the Boulder Loop Trail.

Shortly after the Crest Trail marker trees begin to border the trail. In places they branch out over the trail.

(Click the image above for a brief slideshow!)

At the half mile mark into the hike is a rock outcropping on the right side of the trail. The extensive branches of a tree along the trail make an excellent border for framing the rocks.
As the altitude of the trail increases, the views to the west become more extensive. Real estate developments appear in the valley between Daley Ranch and the hills in the distance.
At this point the trail begins a slow incline which continues to the end of the hike at the Engelmann Oak trailhead. This section of the trail contains several small rock outcroppings with shrubs growing among the rocks. (Click the image at right for a brief slideshow!)
At the 1.15 mile odometer reading on the GPS unit we end our hike. We are at the Engelmann Oak trailhead. The Cougar Ridge trail continues north 1.62 miles to the Cougar Pass entrance to Daley Ranch. The Engelmann Oak trail goes to the east and eventually loops back into the Cougar Ridge Trail.