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The hike starts with a smooth ascent along a paved road but will soon transition into some switchbacks. The trail is very well marked, making it difficult to get lost. The uphill can be tricky, but many hikers say that the downhill can be even more tricky, as the steep slopes can cause slippage and often get muddy after rains. If you want to hike to the summit of the mountain, realise that it is a difficult climb and come prepared with plenty of water and a savvy companion. The Best North County San Diego Hikes. Note that this trail is quite exposed, so hiking in mid-afternoon direct sunlight is not recommended. 10 best hikes in San Diego 1 - Torrey Pines State Park. As such, the hike is particularly interesting for aspiring botanists. For multiple waterfalls on one single trail, the Three Sisters Falls trail is a fantastic, moderate hike with a lot of picturesque cascades. The hiking trails in San Diego are among the most beautiful in the entire state, offering views of the city’s gorgeous beaches, undulating mountains, and deep canyons. You’ll pass several false summits and eventually climb a scramble up to the true summit. The bluffs of Sunset Cliffs is by far my number one pick for one of the best San Diego hiking trails that are relatively short and easy with some of the most breath-taking views in the city. Yes, you read that correctly. Along the trail, you’ll come across several gentle switchbacks that lead to the peak. Note that because this trail is used by hikers, runners, bikers, etc., it can become very crowded on weekends. The climb will physically challenge even the fittest of mountain adventurers with the seemingly endless ups and downs over rugged, at times treacherous terrain. Be sure to turn onto the first dirt road off of S2 after Scissors Crossing, and not the second road. AllTrails has 128 great hiking trails, trail running trails, mountain biking trails and more, with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers, and nature lovers like you. It’s one of the most challenging and beautiful ocean bluff hikes. It may also be a good idea to bring along hiking poles to stabilise you on the more precarious sections of the trail. Keep your eyes peeled and you might get lucky and spot one of the resident deer population. The Cabrillo Monument was erected in 1913 in honour of the landing of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in San Diego Bay in 1542, the first European voyage to land the west coast of the USA. Hiking Trails in San Diego. The 5-Peak Challenge will provide you the opportunity to discover some of the less-visited areas of Mission Trails. Location: Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve. Stroll, hike, trail run, bike, or horseback ride on thousands of miles of hiking trails in and around San Diego. When not writing for Mountain IQ, Mark is out exploring the outdoors with his wife! However, the breath-taking views of the surrounding mountains and extraordinary granite rock formations turn this physical battle into a source of pleasure for its heroic conquerors. For wildlife lovers, there are few better places for hiking near San Diego than the Batiquitos Lagoon Trail. While there are many San Diego hikes worth mentioning, here are a few of our top picks. You successfully submitted your question! This short trail is rated as moderate and is one of the best hikes in San Diego for all levels, giving hikers the chance to experience some of the best views in the city without having to scramble. Elevations are given when the hike is predominantly uphill, such as for summiting a mountain. This hike is considered to be one of San Diego’s best hikes to watch the sunset over the coast. Because of the variety of trails and things to do, this is an especially nice hike for families with children. Sunset Cliffs Park Trail is perfect for the whole family including dogs on leashes. From coastal hikes, to moonscape deserts, to big mountains, there’s tremendous variety. On the east of San Diego County, the Borrego Palm Canyon is one of the last natural Californian palm groves and features cacti and colourful flowers. As you descend the canyon, you will pass through the shades of sycamore and oak trees, enjoy the bright colours of wildflowers and listen to the gentle bubbling of the stream and subsequent waterfalls. Head to the San Diego Parks website to get the latest information. As one of the highest peaks in San Diego County, there’s no … Distance: 3.2 km (other options available) The Razor ... Los Peñasquitos Canyon Trail. Along with Cowles Mountain, Iron Mountain and Mount Woodson, Cedar Creek Falls is one of San Diego’s hiking greats. If the day is particularly clear, you will be able to spot local landmarks, which will familiarise you with the area as well as any bus tour. The population is around 1,423,851 based on the survey in July 2019. San Diego's Greatest Hikes for Every Skill Level Iron Mountain Trail. It plunges down 80 feet into a deep swimming hole known as the Devil's Punchbowl. It is also a beautiful place for a romantic stroll. If you're looking for the best trails around Border Field State Park, we've got you covered. Located in the Batiquitos Lagoon Ecological Reserve, this trail is an ideal outing for families... Blue Sky Ecological Reserve. Moderate Hikes in San Diego. No hiking guide for San Diego would be complete without mention of Anza-Borrego, and Borrego Palm Canyon is the state park’s quintessential adventure. NOTE: Some of these trails may be closed currently due to safety concerns regarding the current global pandemic. The reserve also offers a variety of programming for visitors, like guided docent tours and frequent nature education events. As an Amazon Associate, Mountain IQ earns from qualifying purchases. The trail is, however, very exposed and is scorching in the summer months – plan an early start to avoid the heat and the crowds. We’re a community of outdoor-loving city dwellers who can’t wait to get outdoors! This trail begins on a downhill into the canyon where the waterfalls are located, then an uphill on the return trip. We are not teaching, we are sharing the casual fun hikes and building relationships, but we can help some newbies learn about San Diego … Beware of wildlife as bobcats have been known to wander through the area! Here, you’ll find rock canyon areas, small ponds, and wide meadows, a wonderful balance of terrain for beginners to advanced hikers. 4. Your best bet is to go early in the morning for optimal views and minimal crowds. Photo by Liz Thomas. In addition to the historical significance of this area, there are also several trails, such as the Bayside trail, through the sage scrub, chaparral and past tidal pools teaming with coastal wildlife. This oasis trail is popular as a day hike, culminating in a shaded and rejuvenating pond. The best hikes in San Diego, California have been chosen for a number of reasons – the scenic beauty of the trails, the physical challenge imposed by the climbs, and their unique hiking experience. Located in a wide canyon, the Los Penasquitos Canyon Trail is one of the absolute best places for hiking in San Diego. The trail starts at Discovery Lake, crosses through a housing development, winds along a roadside and eventually takes you up the peak itself. Mark has trekked extensively in Asia, Europe, South America and Africa. We recommend going in the Winter and early Spring due to the heat. He founded Mountain IQ in 2014 with the sole aim to be the best online information portal to some of the most popular mountain destinations around the world. Even if you’re not a surfer, there are tons of ways to explore the outdoors in the city, and hiking in San Diego is one of them. Also, look out for rattlesnakes. Lake Calavera Preserve. These trails are famous for being some of the easiest but most rewarding hiking experiences in the region. Top San Diego Hiking Trails: See reviews and photos of hiking trails in San Diego, California on Tripadvisor. The site is well known for its stargazing – the Palomar Observatory is located here. On the trail, there’s very little shade, so we’d recommend bringing a hat and sunscreen if you choose to go then. Because the trail is fairly flat, it’s perfect for hikers of all levels to get out in the wilderness. Iron Mountain is easily one of the most popular hiking trails in San Diego, right there with Cowles Mountain and Potato Chip Rock. Part of the trail will take you through manzanita forests, boulder fields, and desert brush. Best Hikes Near San Diego Batiquitos Lagoon Trail. © 2018 ThemeSphere. The Top Hiking Trails In San Diego The Razor Point trail (1.3 miles) or Guy Fleming Trail (0.7 miles) both offer dramatic,... 2 - Los Penasquitos Canyon Trail. The trail is one of the most challenging on this list, but the destination is legendary for any San Diego local. by Carissa Stanz. It’s also flat the whole way, so it’s great for beginners as well as more experienced hikers. Because of the raucous parties and numerous rescue missions (resulting from overheating and generally irresponsible behaviour), the Forest Service has imposed a permit requirement. 1. Blue Sky Ecological Reserve offers hikers a unique destination just outside of … Welcome to a desert oasis – the Palm Canyon Loop trail! With a relatively tranquil route, the Los Penasquitos Canyon hike is great for all... 3 - Cowles Mountain. A picturesque and uniquely shaped rock sits at the end of this trail, offering a nice reward for those brave enough to tackle this challenging uphill hike. Hikers especially love this trail for families and children, since there are so many places to explore and the ascents/descents aren’t too difficult. Stunning views begin about halfway up. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. The coastal scenery provides an idyllic backdrop to motivate you to go on a casual afternoon stroll for as long or as short as you please. San Diego is the eighth-largest city in the United States that is … Ho Chi Minh Trail. This multi-use trail runs through wooded areas, vast meadows, and culminates in a quaint waterfall. San Diego is located about 190 km from the South of Los Angeles. If you’re seeking one of the most iconic hikes in San Diego, the Torrey Pines Beach Trail is it. Location: Torrey Pines State Park, La Jolla. If you’re seeking one of the most iconic hikes in San Diego, the Torrey Pines Beach Trail is it. San Diego hikes will rival some of the best found anywhere in the U.S. From paved pathways to backcountry tracks, San Diego has it all. After you’ve summited the peak, we recommend that you include a walk along the tranquil shores of Lake Poway. This trail is a serious challenge and a must for anyone looking for challenging hikes near San Diego. Press Esc to cancel. Cabrillo Tide Pools. Local hikers love the Palm Canyon Loop trail because it’s short, easy, and has lots of vibrant and picturesque scenery along the way. The Oak Canyon Trail is another trail in Mission Trails Regional Park that’s suitable for all levels. While there are many things I miss, the sun-drenched trails are near the top of the list. We’d recommend hiking at Torrey Pines in the evening to enjoy the sunset over the coast, but mornings can be nice with fewer crowds. The trail is wide and you’ll often see Jeeps and other sport utility vehicles tackle the terrain alongside hikers. El Cajon Mountain is one of the most strenuous, least-used hikes in San Diego County. Miramar Reservoir. Again, look out for rattlesnakes. The unique scenery here definitely puts it on the radar as one of the top hikes in San Diego – it’s a pocket of paradise in the otherwise parched terrain of the Palm Springs desert. The reward at the bottom is so worth it though! Yes, this trail is home to an actual desert oasis, featuring towering palm trees, glimmering streams, and eerie rock formations. Cowles Mountain features the best views of the city, while sunrises and sunsets from the top are hard to beat. Heads up - it’s also known to be a nude beach for the locals. We do, however, recommend that you go for a refreshing dip in the glorious swimming hole. Mount Woodson. (Let us know if we missed your favorite!). The park is perfect to stretch your city legs, and contains picnic benches, shady trees and toilet amenities. Nearby is the Old Point Loma lighthouse, which was used during World War II to store artillery and other military equipment, on the picturesque shoreline. While burritos, beer, and beaches may be San Diego’s claim to fame, you won’t want to pass up the trails. There are endless options to choose from, and one of the most well-loved is the Oak Canyon Trail which follows the banks of a ravine snaking north of the Old Mission Dam. Along the way, you’ll find lovely, colorful patches of wildflowers, rock pathways, and lovely views. Located in the middle of the Los Coyotes Indian reservation, the trail to the top of Hot Springs Mountain was previously closed to visitors. For visitors and local alike, this is a perfect introduction to San Diego hiking. Kay Rodriguez is the founder of Urban Outdoors. Required fields are marked, Privacy | Terms | DMCA | Affiliate Disclosure | Site Map. There are many amazing hiking trails at Lake Calavera! Looking for the perfect gift for your favorite hiker? Urban Outdoors is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The trail passes a series of three cascading waterfalls which feed refreshing pools of fresh water, perfect for an afternoon swim. Photo by Elise Heimowitz. The sweeping views of the coastline are well worth the hike itself, but as a bonus, you’ll also wander through magnificent rock formations and wildflower meadows, too. The fairly strenuous 3-mile trail winds through the chaparral hills of eastern San Diego County. Fun fact: a lot of people use this hiking trail when there’s a full moon too. This short, but steep route up to the highest peak within city limits receives an impressive volume of hiker traffic. 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