The Lake Hodges we see and know today was actually once a river which was inhabited by indigenous people since at least 7,000 B.C. Ceremonial pictographs are found in this area (well-guarded now due to unfortunate vandalism) and mortars can be found along the shoreline which were used for grinding food. Much of the plants the Kumeyaay once used can still be found in this area today.
There were once two brothers who owned land along the river, which at the time was known as Crescent Valley. The Carroll brothers had a large family and raised cattle, which small remnants of the ranch can still be seen today. In 1905, the brothers sold their land to business tycoon Ed Fletcher for $10! Once sold, the dam was built and the river turned into what we know today as Lake Hodges. Once the lake was fully formed, the Carroll's adobe ranches become submerged underwater, where parts of them may or may not sit today.
We have found the old rock quarry which was used to construct the dam and nearby are a pair of "caves" which are more like rock shelters. Above in the hills you may be able to see the Spaceship House, which is part of a large artist community. So many lovely, hidden gems in this area!
Personal Experience: I grew up in this area & played softball for many, many years at the fields adjacent these trails. This area holds fond memories for me as I know it does for many of you too. There is a so-so waterfall off of one of the trails here so keep your eyes peeled!
This area made headlines after Chelsea King was found murdered here after a jog back in '10. The community came together so beautifully during this time but sadly none of it was enough to bring her back alive.
As tranquil as places like these are, they are sadly not necessarily safe to explore alone. There are houses overlooking where Chelsea was abducted in broad daylight. All it took were mere seconds to pull her out of view. I don't mean to be morbid, I just want everyone to be cautious during their exploring.
This is a great area to enjoy the wildflowers in the springtime!
A small memorial for Chelsea King can be found out here:
This memorial once sat where she was murdered but has since been washed away after rising waters during winter storms: