Elfin Forest is a un-incorporated rural community of San Diego County, located in the foothills of the Santa Rosa Mountains. The geography is southwest of Escondido with the township of Harmony Grove to the northeast, San Marcos to the north and west, Olivenhain to the southwest, and Rancho Santa Fe to the south.
While the name may conjure visions of a J.R. Tolken novel, there are in fact no elves, sprites, fairies or other woodland magical creatures lurking in the near 700 acres of forests and hills of Harmony Grove- Elfin Forest. [A] Prominent Dentist and businessman Harvey Urban co-purchased a 20 acre lot south of San Marcos in 1959, for vacationing family and friends. Urban’s patients, the wise-crackers among them, quickly dubbed the area “Tooth Acres.” [B] In 1966, The Urban family renamed the area Elfin Forest, after a book by Francis Marion Fultz titled, “The Elfin Forest of California.” [C] The area is home to native endangered chaparral and coastal sage scrub also, many unique bird species, reptiles and amphibians. The overall beauty of the area is undeniable, and draws in hikers, campers, and the curious year after year.
[D] Urban legend has indelibly linked the Elfin Forest and ‘QuestHaven’ together. Many internet sources make claim that QuestHaven was a mental hospital and the “ghosts”, of those that died there still haunt the area. [E] QuestHaven was founded by Flower and Lawrence Newhouse and has always been a non-denominational religious retreat and never a hospital of any kind. The 655 acres of QuestHaven retreat are private property and trespassers are not welcome.
Another common story is that Gypsies once lived in the area of SpooksCanyon (inside Elfin Forest), there they would practice the occult. This story is true. [E] The community of Harmony Grove Spiritualists- Palm Readers, psychic artists, and seance mediums lived on 12.3 acres of land and previously practiced their arts of contacting the dead. “Rituals would take place on Sunday mornings where the women would dress in long flowing gowns”, according to the San Diego Union article. [F] Corrinne Pleasant (1897-1984), was a spiritualist and resident of Harmony Grove, she recalled stories of trying to contact the spirits of rumored, slaughtered Indian children, who were buried upright in the hills above Elfin Forest. Pleaseant said the Indian Childrens ghosts could be seen on a clear night playing and running. She also made claims that her group of spiritualists were visited by the “Ghost” of an Englishman wearing an old stove hat and carrying a swinging lantern.
[E2] The ghost of the lady in white has long been rumored to haunt the area known as Elfin Forest. Pleasant claimed to have seen the woman floating without feet down a grassy path just outside her home. Legend has it that the woman was left on the East coast, while her husband and son sought out land in San Diego. For some unknown reason both men were killed. The ghost of the lady in white has been blamed for multiple car crashes along Quest Haven Road. Bil Barker, Former Volunteer fire chief for Elfin forest, recounted 16-20 car crashes were reported each year and more times than not they were blamed on the lady in white.
San Diego Haunted took a long time to review this specific haunting mainly due to it’s blown out of proportion claims. We wanted to make sure we got the history right. Elfin Forest is a beautiful place, full of rich history, unique residents, and maybe a few spirits.
[A] San Diego Union March 1, 1972
[B] San Diego Union May 25, 1966
[C] Wikipedia . com
[D] Shadowlands . net
[E] San Diego Union May 24, 1959
[E2] San Diego Union Oct 31, 1983
[F] Find a grave . com