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Whether you’re a local or just visiting San Diego, you’re in the right place for some outdoor fun. With the beautiful beaches, neighborhoods and parks to visit, we want to add hiking to your to-do list! When most people think of San Diego, they think of a sunny day at the beach, but our beautiful city also offers some awesome hiking trails that will give you a new perspective of the city. No matter what part of town you’re in there’s a trail nearby to enjoy. We put together a trail guide of our favorite to help you get out and explore. You’ll also find links to more information and tips for each trail. Have fun!


Central San Diego

1. Bayside Walk – 5.2 miles

Area: Mission Bay

Route Type: Out & Back

Difficulty: Easy

San Diego Mission Bay Overview

Photo: Trip Savvy

The Bayside path boasts amazing views of Mission Bay and has great beach access if you’re looking to stay close to the water. This path follows the beach around the bay for nearly 5.5 miles and is great for walking or even biking. Also, if you’ve got kids coming along, there’s a small park located along the trail to keep them entertained, while you enjoy views of the bay! Check out more information and reviews on this path here!

 

2. Tecolote Canyon: North End – 3.8 miles

Area: La Jolla

Difficulty: Easy/Intermediate

Oak trees and sycamores lining a small creek in Batiquitos trail in tecolote park, San Diego california.

Photo: Tim S.

If you’re looking for more of a quick escape from the city, this one is for you. Even though you’re not far from civilization, you’ll feel secluded and surrounded by nature. Along the trail you can expect to see live oaks, sycamores and willow trees that line a quaint stream. Sound from the nearby freeway is non-existent so you’ll feel like you’re in the great outdoors but only a quick drive away from some great restaurants nearby. Check out more information and reviews on this trail here!

3. Bayside Trail – 1.1 miles

Area: Point Loma

Difficulty: Easy/Intermediate

 

View of San Diego and the ocean from Bayside trail in Point Loma Cabrillo Monument.

Photo: Mrs. Orman

This is an easy hike in Cabrillo National Monument and is all about the amazing views. This trail lines the coast and opens up to some spectacular views of San Diego Bay, downtown, the Coronado bridge. You can also see the beautiful Point Loma lighthouse. This is a great trail to see a different perspective of San Diego and take in some fresh ocean air. Since it’s not a long hike this is perfect for children, too. Check out more information and reviews on this trail here!

 

North County Hikes

1. Torrey Pines State Reserve Loop - 2.3 miles

Area: Del Mar

Route Type: Loop

Difficulty: Easy/Intermediate

 

A view of Del Mar beach with the cliffs and blue skies

Photo by: Dirk Hansen

We hope you love ocean views as much as we do because here’s another coastal hike. This trail works up a sweat with a semi-steep hike up from the road to the reserve but it’s all worth it. With vast views of the ocean, and the rare and famous Torrey Pines, this hike is one of our favorites. This route loops through the reserve trails and down to the beach and back around. Take the whole family for a great day out by the water. Check out more information and reviews on this trail here!

2. Batiquitos Lagoon Trail – 3.3 miles

Area: Carlsbad

Route Type: Out & Back

Difficulty: Easy

 A sunny view out over the Batiquitos Lagoon hiking trail with the lagoon in the center with hills behind.

Photo: Yelena Sukhanov

The waterfront of Batiquitos Lagoon offers a scenic hike perfect for wildlife fans. The lagoon is home to all types of local birds, including herons, mud hens, plus lizards, rabbits and pretty wild flowers. Located in Carlsbad along highway 5, there are plenty of parking lots, a nature center and the trail allows dogs on leashes. Check out more information and reviews on this trail here!

 

3. Los Peñasquitos Canyon Trail – 6.8 miles

Area: Fairbanks Ranch

Route Type: Loop

Difficulty: Easy/Intermediate

 

A hiking trail in Los Penasquitos Canyon trail in california picturing the dirt trail and hills beyond.

Photo: Renee Gersy

If you’re up for a longer hike, this loop is a good choice! The trail itself is relatively flat without any major inclines so it’s great for all skill levels and takes you for a long loop around the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve. This trail offers some beautiful plant and animal viewing opportunities and a pretty waterfall for a nice ending to your hike. There’s nothing like a natural water feature to make you feel like you’re out in nature. Check out more information and reviews on this trail here!

 

South County Hikes

1. Tijuana Estuary Trail– 4 miles

Area: Imperial Beach

Route Type: Loop

Difficulty: Easy

 Tijuana River Estuary with blue skies and grasses.

Photo: Francesa O’Brien

 

This hike is full of views of the local wetlands, and local communal projects like the neighborhood vegetable gardens that hold chickens, ducks and artistic displays. In the Spring this trail is full of beautiful wildflowers. Among all the fun things to see, this area is great for bird watching. Over 370 species of birds have been sighted here. One thing to note is the last mile of the trail is all natural, undeveloped coastline so walking through the sand is required. Check out more information and reviews on this trail here!

 

2. Mother Miguel/Rockhouse Trail – 4.5 miles

Area: La Presa

Route Type: Out & Back

Difficulty: Easy/Intermediate

A view of San Diego county from the summit of Mother Miguel Rockhouse trail with an American flag planted in stack of stones.

Photo: Akemi S

A expansive view of Sweetwater Reservoir, Pacific Beach, San Diego Bay, downtown San Diego, Point Loma and the Coronado islands awaits you on this trail’s summit. The trail is surrounded by native grasses, wildflowers and chaparral. You’ll see a steep eroded path that leads straight up the slope but it’s best to opt for the switchbacks that will gently take you up to the summit. This peak also makes for a great photo spot. Not only will you be surrounded by an amazing view, but there’s also an American flag displayed on a pole on top of an impressive stack of stones at the very top for an added dose of patriotism. Check out more information and reviews on this trail here!

3. Sweetwater Reservoir to Cactus Hill – 5.3 miles

Area: Lithia Springs

Route Type: Loop

Difficulty: Easy/Intermediate

 

Sweetwater Reservoir with and open area full of grass and blues in San Diego, CA.

Photo: Laura Mornoy

 

The Sweetwater Reservoir hike is full of wide open spaces, good views and is great for the whole family. The trail is near an urban area but you’ll still be able to enjoy the walk and feel like you’re surrounded by nature. The summit of Cactus Hill offers a picnic area so you can enjoy your lunch or a snack while admiring the views of the reservoir and the Pacific. Check out more information and reviews on this trail here!

East County Hikes

1. Father Junipero Serra Trail – 4.5 miles

Area: La Mesa

Route Type: Out & Back

Difficulty: Easy

Photo: Stan Moore-Rainczuk

 

This is an easy and relaxing hike for all skill levels. It cuts through Mission Trails Park with views of the San Diego river. The landscape is at its best from February through May, so if you’re hoping for some green hills, hold off until this time of year. This trail offers pretty wild flowers and bird-watching. Check out more information and reviews on this hike here!

 

2. South Fortuna & Fortuna Saddle Trail Loop – 5.8 miles

Area: La Mesa

Route Type: Loop

Difficulty: Moderate

 

Stairway to Heaven on trail of South Fortuna in Mission Trails Regional Park in San Diego, Ca.

 Photo: Debbie C.

 

This is another great trail through Mission Trails Regional Park that will give you a great workout. You’ll get the chance to climb the Stairway to Heaven, a set of steps that climb a portion of the trail for a fun but challenging ascent. Your climb will be rewarded with pretty views from the top! Check out more information and reviews on this trail here!

 

3. Cowles Mountain Trail – 2.9 miles

Area: La Mesa

Route Type: Up & Back

Difficulty: Easy/Intermediate

 A view of San Diego county from summit of Cowles Mountain Trail with pretty blue skies and clouds.

Photo: LaQuinta Thibodeaux

 

Cowles Mountain is home to one of San Diego’s most popular trails so you definitely won’t be alone on this one as it’s always busy but the views and sweat are worth it. It is a continuous uphill path but you’ll be rewarded at the top with 360 degree panoramic views of downtown San Diego, Mexico, North County. On a very clear day you can even see out to Orange County! Check out more information and reviews on this trail here!

 

Whether you’re looking to break a sweat or in the mood for a mellow hike, we’ve got you covered. All you have to do is pick a trail, pack your hiking bag (check our blog post for list of essentials for your day hike here) and invite some friends along for the fun. Also, if you’re not in San Diego, we still encourage you to find a trail near you and get out there! Here’s an awesome resource for hiking all around the US. Alltrails.com offers images, descriptions and ratings of each trail. Also, you can read tons of reviews and from real hikers like you who’ve been on the trail. Check out the website for more hiking trails. If you’ve hiked any of these, let us know what you think and share your favorite hikes below in the comments!

 

 

 

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