My Favorite San Diego Hikes

I love hiking and tend to hike most weekends. I’m constantly seeking out new trails, and thankfully there are a lot of new trails to discover here in San Diego County! I wanted to take a minute to give you the run-down on some of my favorite trails here in the local area in case you’re planning on visiting San Diego and want to get some time out in nature!

Torrey Pines

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This is probably the most famous hiking area in San Diego County. Torrey Pines, located just North of La Jolla and South of Del Mar, is a beautiful nature preserve with dramatic ocean cliffs, trees, wildlife, and beach for you to enjoy. It’s a popular hiking spot among both tourists and locals alike and absolutely worth visiting while you’re here. I wrote a whole post about Torrey Pines before, so I’ll link to that here so you can get a little more information on what it’s like and some of the logistics like parking, etc.

Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve

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This trail is a favorite among locals in the know. It’s a fairly long, albeit mostly flat hike, but along the way you’ll hike along the edge of a creek, check out some interesting historical sites like a grave site and an adobe ruin, and enjoy the shade of beautiful California oaks and Sycamores. There’s a decent chance you’ll spot some wildlife along the way, and there’s a beautiful waterfall that serves as the main attraction of this hike. I like to stop, have a picnic lunch, and dip my toes in the water when I get to the waterfall.

Annie’s Canyon

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Annie’s Canyon is a shorter trail, but a really awesome one. This interesting Solana Beach slot canyon is a great place to hike if you’re looking for a fun and exciting adventure while you’re in San Diego. I wrote about it in the post (linked above) so I won’t write too much about it here, but I can tell you that it’s tons of fun, easily accessible, and one of the most interesting places I’ve seen in San Diego County.

Calavera Preserve

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There’s an ancient extinct volcano in Carlsbad, and you can hike to the top! Have I gotten your attention? Good! Because this hike, another favorite among locals in the know, is a lot of fun! Located in the middle of the suburbs in Carlsbad, it’s not exactly on the tourist radar, but locals flock to this trail (dogs are also allowed!) to get exercise and amazing views of the hills around. There’s a little lake in the preserve as well, and I’ve seen some cool wildlife (like road runners!) when I’ve hiked there before.

Potato Chip Rock

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I couldn’t write a list about favorite San Diego hikes without mentioning the famed Potato Chip Rock! Also known as the Mount Woodson trail, this is another popular hike among locals and tourists alike. It’s a pretty long, hot hike with little shade and quite a bit of elevation gain, but the reward is a strange rock near the summit that people like to hop on top of and take amusing pictures with. If you’re into hiking and you want your chance to take an amusing potato chip rock picture, why not give this hike a try? Please note that this trail is inland quite a bit, so it can be very hot during the Summertime. Bring more water than you think you’ll need!

Iron Mountain

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Last but not least, I can’t mention great San Diego hikes without bringing up Iron Mountain. Also located inland (and also hot with little shade and a lot of elevation gain), this trail is popular among fitness enthusiasts and those who just want to have a challenge with a great view at the top. The views at the top really are spectacular on this trail. Also know that there is a picnic table on top, so bring a sandwich and enjoy it with a great view before you head back down to the bottom.

Any San Diego locals want to weigh in on their favorite hikes in the area? I’d love to hear your thoughts!