The walk is also educational, with informative signs dotted at intervals to inform visitors about the indigenous plants and animals. Type above and press Enter to search. With a wide variety of terrain in the city and its surrounds, hikers will find trails ranging from wildlife-rich nature preserves to challenging summit scrambles. Press Esc to cancel. Moreover, although the route is immediately steep and challenging, it offers stunning views of the surrounding city all along the way. We do, however, recommend that you go for a refreshing dip in the glorious swimming hole. Don’t start swearing at the switchbacks though, because these are the only ones you’ll get the whole trail. The park is perfect to stretch your city legs, and contains picnic benches, shady trees and toilet amenities. 3,734 reviews. Offering gorgeous views of the lush green forest below, Corte Madera Mountain is a must-do hike near San Diego. The trail will take you initially through a desert climate and will gradually transition into an alpine climate as you make your way up the mountain. Hiking San Diego County write-up. Millions of years ago this place used to be underwater. Beware of wildlife as bobcats have been known to wander through the area! It’s also flat the whole way, so it’s great for beginners as well as more experienced hikers. Here’s a comprehensive list of our 35 favorite (practical) gifts for hikers, updated for 2020! Because each of these hikes are so different, it is impossible to compare them – so don’t worry about the order in which they appear. Please try again. Work With Us Palomar Mountain is surrounded by a web of intersecting trails, all of varying lengths and difficulties. El Cajon Mountain is one of the most strenuous, least-used hikes in San Diego County. Hiking San Diego. Attempt this trail in the cooler months. This short, but steep route up to the highest peak within city limits receives an impressive volume of hiker traffic. When she's not writing furiously on her laptop or editing photos, you can find Kay running, hiking, paddling, or playing in the snow. Known for its beaches and laid-back vibes, San Diego is a heavenly city for outdoor lovers. Along the trail, you’ll come across several gentle switchbacks that lead to the peak. On clear days, you can see the Pacific ocean in the distance. Arrow. Cowles Mountain features the best views of the city, while sunrises and sunsets from the top are hard to beat. The views at the top are absolutely fantastic. According to locals, the Iron Mountain trail ranks among the top mountain hikes in San Diego for its views alone. The Iron Mountain Trail is the perfect half-day excursion if you’re in North County. The Lake Hodges Overlook is a moderate, accessible hike for all levels that brings you to a panoramic view of Lake Hodges and the Escondido area. California is a treasure trove of hiking terrain, and the best hikes in San Diego is proof of that. The Mount Woodson hike is famous for the incredibly photographic Potato Chip Rock. Again, look out for rattlesnakes. Blue Sky Ecological Reserve offers hikers a unique destination just outside of … For wildlife lovers, there are few better places for hiking near San Diego than the Batiquitos Lagoon Trail. If you do decide to take on this epic trek, pack more water than you think is necessary and check the weather forecast to avoid hiking on hot days. The trailhead is easily accessed, the trail is relatively challenging but doable for casual hikers, and offers some incredible views of the surrounding land (all the way from Mexico and to the ocean). Located in a wide canyon, the Los Penasquitos Canyon Trail is one of the absolute best places for hiking in San Diego. This oasis trail is popular as a day hike, culminating in a shaded and rejuvenating pond. Moderate Hikes in San Diego. As with many of the San Diego hikes, the weather can get dangerously hot so ensure that you plan your excursion on a cool afternoon and pack plenty of water – more than you think you’ll need. We have also tried to cater for all types of hikers, so if you are very fit and looking for a multi-day expedition or if you are just looking to fill your afternoon, there should be something on this list for you. With a relatively tranquil route, the Los Penasquitos Canyon hike is great for all... 3 - Cowles Mountain. Make sure to bring sunscreen and plenty of water! Given the lack of good peak-bagging options south of Interstate 8 and west of the mountains, you would think that a mountain with views this good would attract more notice. 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. Because of the variety of trails and things to do, this is an especially nice hike for families with children. Distance: 3.2 km (other options available) The Razor ... Los Peñasquitos Canyon Trail. Iron Mountain is easily one of the most popular hiking trails in San Diego, right there with Cowles Mountain and Potato Chip Rock. We recommend going in the Winter and early Spring due to the heat. 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. The area offers a diverse array of hiking trails: you’ll find ocean cliffs covered with Torrey pines, rolling mountain ranges, and the incredible Anza Borrego desert. We will do some casual local hikes around San Diego, sometimes joining with other hiking group members. Local hikers love the Palm Canyon Loop trail because it’s short, easy, and has lots of vibrant and picturesque scenery along the way. Careers Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve It’s no secret that Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is one of the best places to hike in San Diego County. Head to the San Diego Parks website to get the latest information. 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. 17 Essential Snowboarding Tips for Beginners to Get You Going ASAP, Best Women’s Snowboarding Pants & Bibs for Every Budget (2020), Best Women’s Ski Pants & Bibs for Every Budget (2020), 30 Totally Genius Gifts for Skiers & Snowboarders (2020 Edition), Best Ski & Snowboard Helmets for Safety and Comfort (2020), 35 Clever Gifts for Hikers That They’ll Actually Use (2020 Edition), Where to Go Canoeing & Kayaking in San Diego, 12 Epic Places to Go Skiing near Southern California, 35 Genius Gifts for Hikers that They’ll Actually Use, 55 Hiking Quotes to Inspire You to Get Outside, 12 Scenic Places to Go Canoeing and Kayaking in San Antonio, 12 Stunning Places to Go Canoeing and Kayaking in the Tampa Bay Area, Trailhead Location: End of Lake Poway Road in Lake Poway Park, Trailhead Location: Cleveland National Forest, Trailhead Location: El Capitan County Preserve, Trailhead Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. You can also decide how long you want to hike for, with the option of extended multi-day hikes or a simple afternoon excursion. Although until recently the trail included a fair amount of technical scrambling, the Forest Service has cut out a route which makes the walk a lot more manageable. If you're looking for the best trails around Border Field State Park, we've got you covered. Another one of the best San Diego hikes is on top of the bluffs of Point Loma over at the Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Linear Trail.. Stunning views begin about halfway up. The trail runs along the peaceful shores of Little Laguna and Big Laguna Lakes, with plenty of shade from the local evergreen forests. The trail starts at Discovery Lake, crosses through a housing development, winds along a roadside and eventually takes you up the peak itself. Take a spectacular hike through the desert wilderness up Whale Peak. The trail boasts some serious alpine vibes, even in the winter when there’s snow on the ground. Bring trekking poles if you think you’ll want extra support for the descent! Breathtakingly desolate in the best ways, the trail delivers desert charm through ripe cactus gardens, wildflowers, and bighorn sheep ( borregos ). We’re a community of outdoor-loving city dwellers who can’t wait to get outdoors! Arrow. Cowles Mountain is the highest point in San Diego, and as such is also one of its most popular hikes. Tucked into the rugged hills and valleys just northeast of downtown San Diego, Mission Trails Regional Park is one of the city’s most easily accessible recreation areas. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. However, even on the most crowded of days, you’ll still be wowed by the sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. This marshy area is home to many local species of birds, marine life, and plants, which you can learn more about on this 3.1 mile trail. 14 Best Hikes in San Diego – Explore The Great Outdoors of California. For a short hike with a gentle incline and views for miles, the Stonewall Peak trail is a fun challenge for hikers of all levels. With its beautiful, old trees, sweeping valley views, and gentle incline, this is one of the most accessible and worthwhile hikes in San Diego for all levels. On the trail, there’s very little shade, so we’d recommend bringing a hat and sunscreen if you choose to go then. Note that this trail is quite exposed, so hiking in mid-afternoon direct sunlight is not recommended. Much of the rest of the hike is a straight up steep ascent to the top. Maybe it’s because it’s tucked into an unassuming location, but I rarely ever hear people talking about this hike. Your email address will not be published. As always, we only link to products that we recommend, and that we have tried and tested ourselves. The Los Peñasquitos Trail is a conserved ecosystem of lush, swamp-like land bordered by suburban development. 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. Best Coastal Hike: Ho Chi Minh Trail This short but steep hike in La Jolla leads into Black’s Beach, a prime surfing spot in San Diego. The trail begins as a straight descent, therefore leaving you to struggle your way back up. The name probably doesn’t sell you on the hike, but trust us, this is one worth doing! Other even shorter options, like the Guy Fleming Trail are available. 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 Three Sisters Falls is a remote destination, which in recent years has gained popular attention. Byron Hetrick Roughly an hour northwest of San Diego is one of the best waterfall hikes in the region. It’s one of the most challenging and beautiful ocean bluff hikes. 9 Best Hikes in San Diego Sunset Cliffs Not to be confused with the other Split Mountain in California, Southern California’s Split Mountain offers stunning and secluded views of the desert plains. Privacy Policy Its popularity is also only second to that of Cowles Mountain, so don’t expect peace and quiet along the way. If you’re in the mood for an adventure, there are less crowded routes that can be taken to its summit to avoid the worst of the crowds. The Mission Trails are an expansive weave of over 60 km of pathway over this urban national park. The reserve also offers a variety of programming for visitors, like guided docent tours and frequent nature education events. San Diego's Greatest Hikes for Every Skill Level Iron Mountain Trail. You’ll hike through the Hellhole Canyon trail, which, as its name implies, is very hot and has no shade. The Razor Point trail (1.3 miles) or Guy Fleming Trail (0.7 miles) both offer dramatic,... 2 - Los Penasquitos Canyon Trail. Location: Torrey Pines State Park, La Jolla. A 2,000+ ft elevation change lies in store, so be prepared for an intense climb. The population is around 1,423,851 based on the survey in July 2019. The hike starts with a smooth ascent along a paved road but will soon transition into some switchbacks. For multiple waterfalls on one single trail, the Three Sisters Falls trail is a fantastic, moderate hike with a lot of picturesque cascades. Also, look out for rattlesnakes. 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. Miramar Reservoir. It plunges down 80 feet into a deep swimming hole known as the Devil's Punchbowl. This multi-use trail runs through wooded areas, vast meadows, and culminates in a quaint waterfall. Most of the trail is relatively easy, but there are a few tough uphill sections that may limit the beginner hiker. While there are many San Diego hikes worth mentioning, here are a few of our top picks. The Best North County San Diego Hikes. Much of the trail is exposed so be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen. Elevations are given when the hike is predominantly uphill, such as for summiting a mountain. San Diego is the eighth-largest city in the United States that is … Here, you’ll find rock canyon areas, small ponds, and wide meadows, a wonderful balance of terrain for beginners to advanced hikers. The trail is very well marked, making it difficult to get lost. Stroll, hike, trail run, bike, or horseback ride on thousands of miles of hiking trails in and around San Diego. (Let us know if we missed your favorite!). Needless to say, this is one you definitely shouldn’t miss! Kay Rodriguez is the founder of Urban Outdoors. While the switchbacks can feel arduous and repetitive, the panoramic views from the top are well worth the effort! The trick to San Diego is to do like the locals and skip the traffic and theme parks. Welcome to a desert oasis – the Palm Canyon Loop trail! Be prepared to get wet if you’re hiking the Cedar Creek Falls trail! For a day-long adventure on an incredibly scenic San Diego hiking trail, look no further than the Big Laguna Trail. Note that the trails are extremely popular, so this is unlikely to satisfy you if you’re in the mood for a secluded getaway. Because of the elevation of the region, the vegetation and atmosphere of the park resemble those of the northwest, including pine trees, gentle mists and verdant plant life. Yes, this trail is home to an actual desert oasis, featuring towering palm trees, glimmering streams, and eerie rock formations. Mark has trekked extensively in Asia, Europe, South America and Africa. As an Amazon Associate, Mountain IQ earns from qualifying purchases. The reward at the bottom is so worth it though! For visitors and local alike, this is a perfect introduction to San Diego hiking. Your email address will not be published. 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. Location: Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve. Hikers mention that the trails can get quite muddy after periods of rain, so it’s a good idea to wear waterproof hiking boots and trekking poles. 4. 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. After completing the challenge, not only will you have seen San Diego from different perspectives, but you may also adopt a new favorite hiking trail along the way. Oak Canyon Trail. The potato chip makes for great pictures, and you can even get on top of it, if you’re brave enough to take a little jump to it. 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. The trail itself is a fairly moderate 4.2-mile round trip excursion that passes through exposed, dry, and sunny stretches of land and eventually leads to … Photo by Elise Heimowitz. This 68-acre park is a postcard-come-to-life, with its expansive ocean views, namesake cliffs, and... Anza-Borrego Desert State Park After you’ve summited the peak, we recommend that you include a walk along the tranquil shores of Lake Poway. San Gorgonio Mountain Trail is 77 km and is perfect for beginner backpackers who want to push themselves out of the single-day comfort zone. Here, you’ll find beautiful seaside bluffs towering over the crashing waves of the Pacific on a flat, easy trail that’s perfect for hikers of all levels, including children! Contact Us. In addition to ample sunshine, hiking San Diego offers hikes for everyone. The Top Hiking Trails In San Diego The site is well known for its stargazing – the Palomar Observatory is located here. Cowles Mountain is the highest peak in San Diego County, and the trail here takes you all the way up to the top. Because of the raucous parties and numerous rescue missions (resulting from overheating and generally irresponsible behaviour), the Forest Service has imposed a permit requirement. Fun fact: a lot of people use this hiking trail when there’s a full moon too. Skiing vs Snowboarding: Which One Should You Choose? The 5-Peak Challenge will provide you the opportunity to discover some of the less-visited areas of Mission Trails. For a longer hike, you can tackle the Oak Canyon to Grasslands trail, which spans 3.7 miles and tracks through even more wildflower-laden meadows! While the party-culture of the trail has not changed, you can expect well-maintained and demarcated trails and a generally fun experience. Because the trail is fairly flat, it’s perfect for hikers of all levels to get out in the wilderness. Note that this hike can get extremely hot in midday, summertime, so avoid walking at this time. 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. 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. You successfully submitted your question! The city’s surrounding terrain beckons hikers, visitors and tourists of all interest and skill levels. 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. San Diego is located about 190 km from the South of Los Angeles. The fairly strenuous 3-mile trail winds through the chaparral hills of eastern San Diego County. 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 ~25m waterfall is a rarity in this desert, and many reckless visitors are tempted to attempt cliff jumping – this is not advised. The highlight of the trek is the last part where you hike through a prehistoric graveyard of seashells. by Carissa Stanz. The Oak Canyon Trail is another trail in Mission Trails Regional Park that’s suitable for all levels. The climb will physically challenge even the fittest of mountain adventurers with the seemingly endless ups and downs over rugged, at times treacherous terrain. Wondering what exactly you should pack for your next hike? If you do choose to hike in the sun, wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide brimmed hat. Here are the best hikes you’ll find in North County San Diego! IMPORTANT: This is a social group not a group lead by instructors. In other words, don’t go there expecting to have the place to yourself. 10 best hikes in San Diego 1 - Torrey Pines State Park. However, if you opt to hike just a section of the trail, you can tailor your experience to your requirements. You’ll find unique-looking waterfalls that flow through the surrounding rocks, and you can also take a dip in the pools as a reward for hiking. Located in nearby Poway, this hike features a challenging ascent leading up to a panoramic viewpoint of the surrounding mountaintops and valleys. One of San Diego’s more challenging hikes, El Cajon Mountain will taunt you with several false peaks and uphill sections both up the mountain and back down. You’ll pass several false summits and eventually climb a scramble up to the true summit. Part of the trail will take you through manzanita forests, boulder fields, and desert brush. Even so, this hike is not one for beginners, and should not be undertaken without a fair amount of preparation. A short drive from downtown San Diego can take you to beaches, deserts, mountains, and more! If it’s a more forested hiking trail you’re seeking, the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve is one of the shadier hikes in San Diego that’s perfect for hikers of all levels. Consider opting to follow the trail at the eastern portion of the canyon, where bikers are less common and the crowds are more dispersed than on the alternative routes. Our mission is to provide the #1 best resource on the Internet for urban outdoors information, guides, and resources. Hiking the Canyon Trail, it is hard to believe that just a few hundred metres away is the characteristic semi-arid chaparral of San Diego county. We are not teaching, we are sharing the casual fun hikes and building relationships, but we can help some newbies learn about San Diego … Though a difficult nine-mile hike round-trip, the views from the top more than compensate—at an elevation of 6,535 feet it’s the highest peak in San Diego. There are many amazing hiking trails at Lake Calavera! These trails are famous for being some of the easiest but most rewarding hiking experiences in the region. You’ll soon come across three separate palm groves that eventually clear out for a small waterfall, making for a pleasing reward after a tough hike. At other points in the trail you can walk through Californian desert or snow-covered mountains – there is really something here for everyone. The Best Hikes in San Diego Have Stunning Coastal Cliffs, Waterfalls, and Even Views of Mexico this link is to an external site that may or may not meet accessibility guidelines. 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Diego can take you to beaches, deserts, to Big mountains, and lovely views more precarious sections the. Oasis, featuring towering Palm trees, glimmering streams, and that we recommend that include... Many amazing hiking trails in San Diego, sometimes joining with other hiking group members Mountain is the highest in! And more the Mission trails the Devil 's Punchbowl you do choose to in. Of lush, swamp-like land bordered by suburban development Cliffs Arrow varying lengths and difficulties the is...

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