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 Sage Trail is a 2.74 mile trail between Dixon Lake on the trail’s southwestern end and Jack Creek Meadows Loop Trail at its northwestern end. Mallard Trail is a short 0.18 mile side trail off of Sage that borders the west and south side of Mallard Pond. If one hikes both the Sage and Mallard Trail the hiking distance is 3.10 miles.

The Sage Trail is a moderately strenuous trail, with a little under 400 foot elevation gain between the trailhead and its highest point.
The Sage Trail does not have a trailhead marker at its southwest terminus. The trail starts where three trails come together. The trail east from the Sage Trailhead goes down to Dixon Dam at the eastern end of Dixon Lake. Going west from the Sage Trailhead leads to a parking lot shared by Dixon Lake and Daley Ranch. None of the trails are marked at their intersection; however, signs inform one that they are entering the Dixon Lake Recreation Area to the east or the “Dixon Lake & Daley Ranch Parking Lot Trail” to the west.
Before starting on the hike be sure and set the odometer on your GPS unit to zero. This will allow you to note the distances from the trailhead to the different trails that intersect the Sage Trail.

The Sage Trailhead sign at the trails northwestern end indicates the trail is 2.99 miles long. This differs from the 2.74 mile distance gotten from our GPS unit. If one adds the length of the Mallard Trail to our GPS reading (as indicated on the slides), the total length is 3.10 miles. Thus we do not match the trailhead marker distance whether we do or do not add the Mallard Trail distance to our GPS reading.
The Sage Trailhead is 0.96 miles from the trailheads for the Ranch House Road Trail and/or the Creek Crossing Trail. To get to the Sage Trailhead traverse 0.66 miles east on the Creek Crossing Trail to its intersection with the East Ridge Trail, thence 0.18 miles to the intersection of the East Ridge Trail with the Sage Trail and then south 0.12 miles on the Sage Trail to the trail starting point.
There are a few hills to climb on the Creek Crossing Trail. Thereafter the trail to the Sage Trailhead is an easy walk.
Shortly after leaving the trailhead one notes a sign on the left designating a “Nature Trail, Hikers Only.” There isn’t any sign designating the name of the trail, however, it is known as the Chaparral Trail and runs across the north edge of the Dixon Lake territory. The trail starts off of the Sage Trail and ends up near the Jack Creek picnic areas of Dixon Lake.
Shortly after passing the Nature Trail sign we come to the East Ridge Trail sign. We passed through this section of the trail on our way to the Sage Trailhead.
At 0.28 miles into the hike we reach the trailhead for the Caballo Trail. This trail is mostly downhill to the Escondido Humane Society’s parking lot.
At approximately a half mile into the hike there is a large tree on the right side of the trail. If it is a hot day this is a good spot to garner a little shade.
At about three-quarters of a mile into the hike there is an excellent view to the east of the trail. One of the other trails of Daley Ranch is shown in the far distance. (Click on the image at right for a brief slideshow!)
At 1.06 miles from the Sage Trailhead is the trailhead for the Coyote Run Trail. The trail goes south connecting with the East Ridge Trail at its other end.
The next six tenths of a mile is a steady climb upwards. The trail affords excellent views of a flat prairie to the west of the trail, a large rock beside the trail, and views of the trail ahead showing the slow but steady climb to the trailhead for the Old Tank Trail. (Click on the image at right for a brief slideshow!)
The Old Tank Trail is a short hike up to an old water tank. The Old Tank Trail proceeds up to the tank and then goes beyond the tank to an intersection with the Stanley Peak Trail.
A short distance beyond the Old Tank Trailhead is the trailhead for Stanley Peak. The trail is a rather arduous climb to the top of Stanley Peak.
At this point the Sage Trail turns towards the west. A wood railing fence marks the corner where the trail turns.
The trail is fairly level after turning towards the west. It passes by some interesting trees, some of which are dead trees forming stark silhouettes against the sky. These are trees that were burned in the 2003 Paradise Fire that passed through eastern Daley Ranch. (Click on the image at right for a brief slideshow!)
At 1.87 miles from the Sage Trailhead the trail passes under a canopy formed by two trees that have entwined their foliage above the trail. Shortly beyond this point one is again reminded of the contrast between life and death as we see another tree killed in the fire.
We have passed the two mile mark on our hike when we reach the Diamond Back Trailhead. This trail runs between the Sage Trail and the Coyote Run Trail on its east end.
Our first glimpse of Mallard Pond occurs from the Sage Trail at the 2.29 mile mark. Shortly beyond this point one comes to the trailhead for the Mallard Trail.
An unlikely sight on the ranch is the group of palm trees one sees to the west of Sage. These non-native trees are actually on a small hill between the Daley ranch house and Sage.
We are nearing the end of the Sage Trail. The trail ends where it intersects with the Jack Creek Meadow Loop Trail. Looking north, we get a view of Jack Creek Meadow, the namesake for the trail.
Since leaving the Sage Trailhead at its southern end we have traveled 3.10 miles, including our side trip along Mallard Pond.