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 Hidden Springs Trail is 1.05 miles in length and traverses between the west side of the Jack Creek Meadow Loop Trail and the Engelmann Oak Trail. Hiking from east to west makes for a very difficult hike, rising from an altitude of 1,459 feet at the eastern trailhead to 1,921 feet at the western end. This is an altitude gain of 462 feet in a little over one mile. (This is why the mountain bikers refer to the Hidden Springs Trail as the Cardiac Trail!)
Getting to the trailhead requires a 2.58 mile hike from the trailhead for the Ranch House Road Trail at the La Honda Drive entrance to Daley Ranch. One hikes for 1.18 miles on Ranch House Road to the Jack Creek Meadow Loop Trail and thence 1.41 miles on the west side of the Jack Creek Meadow Loop Trail to the trailhead for the Hidden Springs Trail.
Once one gets to the Hidden Springs Trailhead be sure and set your GPS unit back to 0.00. All distances displayed on the slides assume your GPS unit has been set at zero at the beginning of the trail.
The trail starts out level with very little elevation gain, but soon starts having short sections of rapid incline. In the first one-fifth of a mile the trail gains 104 feet in altitude. Rapid inclines over short distances will incur several times during the first mile of the trail. At this point the trail levels out with a modest 9 foot gain for the last 0.05 miles of the trail.
There is considerable foliage along the trail interspersed with rock outcroppings. The first rock outcropping is near the trailhead with another large outcropping 0.18 miles from the trailhead. The second outcropping occurs after the first major incline in the trail. (Click on the image at right for a brief slideshow!)
The flowers are mostly on flowering bushes along the trail. Occasionally a tree appears along the trail. Unlike the Jack Creek Trail, Hidden Springs does not have low lying areas that collect water during rain storms. Consequently there are very few large trees along the trail. (Click the image at right for a brief slideshow!)
The trail is aptly named “Hidden Springs.” At some point along the trail a spring provides water, but its location is not evident at any point along the trail.
Between 0.41 and 0.77 miles from the trailhead there are excellent views east toward Valley Center. The view also shows the low lying area at the northern end of the Jack Creek Meadow Loop Trail. (Click the image at right for another brief slideshow!)
This area of the trail displays a flowering shrub (California buckwheat, Eriogonum fasciculatum) that differs greatly in the brilliance of its blooms, depending on the season. The flower starts out bright white, turns red as it matures, and finally fades to a dull brown. These pictures were taken in the summer of 2007 after most of the flowers were no longer in were past the pollination stage. The red flower shown in the slideshow gallery above illustrates how a flower can be more colorful after its bloom than during and before blooming.
The base of the steepest hill on the trail is 0.95 miles from the trailhead. It is a challenge for cyclists. Although the hill is only 0.05 miles in length very few cyclists can make it from the base to the top of the hill without at some point dismounting and pushing their bikes to the top. (Of course, taking the trail west to east can make for a fun down-hill ride!)
From a standpoint of slipping the trail is most treacherous when descending the steep portions of the trail such as this. The loose gravel and small rocks easily rolls under one’s feet or bike tires (or hooves, presumably).
At the top of the hill, one mile from the trailhead, is the last view of Daley Ranch to the east and the mountains beyond the borders of the ranch. One can also see a portion of the trail below along the right side of the slide.
The trail ends a short distance beyond the last view to the east. It intersects the Engelmann Oak trail. At this point you will have hiked 1.05 miles and accomplished an elevation gain of 462 feet.
The difference between the distance indicated on the trailhead marker and my GPS unit were very close. The marker indicated a distance of 1.10 miles and the GPS unit a distance of 1.05 miles, a mere 0.05 mile difference.