San Diego is a gorgeous city on the water with plenty of beaches, restaurants, bars and breweries, and great shops. But despite all those options, one of the best things to do in San Diego County is to hike.
San Diego County is brimming with great hiking trails, scenic nature trails, mountain trails, and parks. The variety of trails make it an excellent destination for experienced hikers and those who just want to take a stroll outdoors.
Not sure which trail to hit this weekend? Here are seven of the best hikes to try in San Diego, CA.
1. Devil’s Punch Bowl
Devil’s Punch Bowl, otherwise known as Cedar Creek Falls, is one of the best hikes in San Diego. An incredible waterfall and swimming hole make it the perfect spot on a hot summer day.
You’ll find the swimming hole at the end of a three-mile trail, surrounded by gorgeous cliffs. Getting down the trail is relatively easy. But the climb uphill can be tricky, so prepare for some serious climbing.
And carry plenty of water — it can get pretty hot at the bottom of the cliffs!
2. Mission Trails Regional Park
More than 60 miles of trails wind their way through Mission Trails Regional Park. From amateur hikers to experienced climbers, this park has something for everyone.
If you’re looking for easy hikes, check out Visitor Center Loop Trail, Oak Grove Loop Trail, or Grasslands Loop Trail.
Want more of a challenge? Fortuna Mountains Loop and Fortuna Saddle cover long distances. They also have steep inclines and will have you climbing up and over boulders along the way. These trails are for serious hikers that know what they’re doing.
At three miles long, the Oak Canyon Trail is one of the park’s most popular spots. It’s a moderate hike alongside a stream with a picnic area and plenty of places to stop and spot wildlife.
3. Cowles Mountain
Cowles Mountain falls within the boundaries of the Mission Trails Regional Park. But it’s one of the best hiking spots in San Diego, so it deserves its own place on this list.
Cowles Mountain trail stretches approximately three miles long. The trail itself isn’t incredibly scenic, but the views from the peak more than make up for it. Reach the Cowles Mountain Summit, and you’ll enjoy stunning 360 views stretching from San Diego city to Orange County to Mexico.
It’s an uphill climb yet a moderate hike that most beginners can handle.
4. Torrey Pines State Park
Torrey Pines State Park includes about a dozen different trails. The most popular and picturesque being the Guy Fleming Trail and the Razor Point Trail.
Torrey Pines State Park is a natural reserve, bordered on one side by the Pacific Ocean. You can take in sensational views of the beach, the ocean, and all the beauty that Mother Nature has to offer.
Both the Guy Fleming and Razor Point Trails are easy loops that don’t require any special hiking experience. You can expect to see yucca flowers, wildflowers, cacti, and unique natural sandstone erosion along the way.
5. La Jolla Shores Tide Pools
The five-mile La Jolla Shores Tide Pools trail is the perfect place to spot crabs, fish, and sea anemones. At low tide, you’ll see some of the coolest and most exciting tide pool sand formations and sea creatures.
The Tide Pools Walk measures 3.9 miles long and is an easy option for hikers of all skill levels. If it’s a coastal view you want, this is the trail for you.
Check the tide charts before going. The only way to enjoy this hike is to go at low tide.
6. Three Sisters Falls
Need a challenge? Three Sisters Falls trail is possibly the most challenging hike in San Diego. It’s rocky, steep, and takes some rock climbing skills even to consider attempting this trek.
The waterfall is a gorgeous sight to behold, but getting there is a bit tricky. Some portions of the trail involve ropes, and you can expect to walk over some loose rocks. Even the road leading to the trailhead is a rocky climb, so you’ll need a car or truck that can handle rough terrain.
7. Los Penasquitos Canyon Trail
Waterfalls, streams, and creeks make Los Penasquitos Canyon Trail perfectly picturesque. It’s an easy trail measuring about seven miles and is relatively flat, so it’s common to see people running or riding on horseback.
Along this trail, expect to see plenty of wildlife as well as a beautiful waterfall. The path to the bottom of the falls is a bit rocky, but there are stairs that lead to the top if you’re looking for an easy hike.
More San Diego Trails to Check Out
There are dozens of hiking trails throughout San Diego County. Whether you’re a nature lover or an avid hiker, here are some other scenic trails to experience:
- Seven Bridges
- Annie’s Canyon
- Iron Mountain Trail
- Lake Miramar
There is no shortage of excitement in San Diego. And if you love to hike, there are dozens of trails worth exploring.
Many of San Diego’s hiking trails offer scenic vantage points unlike any other, from ocean views to city views.
Before taking off on your next hike, be sure to pack accordingly. It can get very hot hiking deep into the canyons. And some trails require serious climbing shoes to get up boulders and steep inclines.
No matter when or where you hike, always make sure to do so with safety in mind!
Caitlin Sinclair is the Property Manager at Diega with five years of property management experience and many more in Customer Service. She shares her passion for her community and looks forward to making Diega the place to call home.