Did you know there used to be a town named Bernardo in what is now San Diego’s North County?
Bernardo was a tiny town between Escondido and Rancho Bernardo, where Lake Hodges is located today.
The creation of Lake Hodges in 1918, accomplished by damming the Bernardo River (now called San Dieguito River), put a definite end to little Bernardo. But today people hiking the Mule Hill Trail can see several information signs that recall the history of the now vanished town.
If you’d like to walk down the Mule Hill Trail yourself, take Interstate 15 to Bear Valley Parkway at the south end of Escondido. The wide dirt trail can be found about a quarter mile east of the freeway, leading south. (You’ll see it right before Beethoven Drive.)
Before reaching the site of old Bernardo, this very easy trail passes Mule Hill, where a skirmish took place during the Mexican-American War. I’ll be blogging about that coming up.
Cart roads used by the Spanish and Mexicans before the appearance of Bernardo linked a number of Ranchos–San Bernardo, El Rincon, Del Diablo, Santa Maria, Santa Ysabel, Valle de San Jose and San Felipe–with the port of San Diego.
After the division of Rancho San Bernardo around 1870, a small village developed, known as the town of Bernardo. In addition to several houses, there was a store, post office, blacksmith shop, grange hall and public school. By 1887, the population in the surrounding farm area was approximately 400 people…
For a brief period, Bernardo was a stop for the stagecoaches between San Diego and Yuma.
The San Diego to Yuma Road was an overland trail in the mid-1800s. It was used by the Army of the West in 1846 and gold rush immigrants from 1848 through 1851. It passed through tiny Bernardo as it led northeast from Peñasquitos to Ramona, eventually connecting with the Butterfield Stage Route at Warner Springs.
The history of Rancho San Bernardo began in the late 18th century when the King of Spain took possession of all land in California. In 1823, when Mexico gained its independence, the land became Mexico’s property. Don Jose Francisco Snook, a former English sea captain, received land grants from the Mexican government, including Rancho San Bernardo…
With the passing of the Mexican rancho era came the beginning of the American era, which is represented by the nearby Sikes Adobe Farmhouse. The restored farmhouse is a historic site that one can visit a short distance down the Coast to Crest Trail. (The Mule Hill Trail is a segment of the Coast to Crest Trail.)
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