Exploring San Diego’s 10 Best Hikes offers everything from urban scenery to immaculate views of the Pacific Oceans, nearby mountains, and vistas. You can’t go wrong with any trail, but you’ll want to plan appropriately, based on skill level, trail type, and weather conditions. Regardless, you’ll have a great time traversing San Diego’s trails.
10 Best Hikes in San Diego
Here’s a look at 10 of the best hikes to take in San Diego. Please remember to check a hiking trail’s website or Facebook page for any restrictions or requirements.
Mission Trails Regional Park
With more than 8,000 acres, Mission Trails Regional Park offers all types of trails to explore, including hills, valleys, and open areas. The popular park includes three regions, with trails ranging from easy, moderate, and difficult. From the 1.2-mile Grasslands Trail Loop in the Fortuna Region to the challenging 2.5-mile Cowles Mountain trail via Big Rock Park, Mission Trails Regional Park offers a trail for everyone.
Torrey Pines State Reserve
With about a dozen trails to hike between the reserve and its extension, Torrey Pines State Reserve easily navigable trails, ranging from about 2/3-mile to almost 1.5 miles long. The Guy Fleming Trail includes 2/3-mile long trail, which takes you along two overlooks offering beautiful views of the area, as well as wildflowers and cactus. If you’re looking for a longer trail to traverse, check out Broken Hill Trail, which covers 1.3 miles from South Fork and 1.4 miles from the North Fork. The trail features chaparral and sage brush.
Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve
Offering views of Mexican Native American history, Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve features remnants dating back about 7,000 years. A 7.3-mile loop trail, the preserve is home to about 500 plant species, almost 200 types of birds, and animals such as coyotes, bobcats, and mule deer. As you hike the mostly flat trail, enjoy the waterfall view, as well as a forest of oak trees, and groves of sycamore trees. The marsh features waterfowl and birds, including herons and ducks.
Point Loma Tide Pools
An easy 1-mile out and back trail, Point Loma Tidepools Trail takes you from the beautiful views above the Pacific Ocean to the tidepools at the bottom of the steep stairs. The trail, while considered easy to walk, does take you along steep cliffs and down sand-covered wooden stairs. Once at the bottom, children (of all ages) will have fun exploring the area and enjoying the close-up views of the ocean.
Located in the heart of San Diego, the city’s most-popular attraction features more than 60 miles of trails accessed through five gateways. Balboa Park’s trails run through tree-covered areas, dirt paths, and past museums and other attractions. Trails include unique views, from wooded areas to gardens, and open areas. Some trails take you along roadside shoulders.
Sunset Cliffs Natural Park
With 1.4 miles of trails available, Sunset Cliffs Natural Park presents an opportunity to enjoy views of the Pacific Ocean, as well as one of the best sunsets in the world. Enjoy a walk along the top of the cliffs or head down to the beach and spend time next to the ocean. The trail, rated as moderate for skills, is easily navigated.
Tecolote Canyon Natural Park and Nature Center
With about 6.5 miles of moderate trails, Telecote Canyon Natural Park and Nature Center offers nature hikes that take you along tree-lined paths, as well as a stream, and hillside views. Telecote Canyon, named for owls that continue to live in the canyon. The area has a historical significance, as the Kumeyaay Native Americans once thrived in the area. The nature center also offers historical and natural exhibits.
Black Mountain Open Space Park
With 11 trails, Black Mountain Open Space Park offers short loop trails, as well as the Summit Trail, which takes you to Black Mountain’s summit, with picturesque views of the areas. As you travel along the trails, ranging from two miles long to more than six miles long, they’ll take you through chaparral, sage brush, and wooded areas. Miner’s Loop Trail takes you along about 2.5 miles of chaparral plants along the north side of Black Mountain.
Cabrillo National Monument
With two trails, Cabrillo National Monument takes you alongside the Pacific Ocean or to the viewpoint where Spanish explorer Jian Rodriguez Cabrillo landed near San Diego. Bayside Trail is a 2.5-mile round trip hike that follows a path leading you from the old lighthouse along a paved path that changes to gravel. You’ll enjoy views of the Pacific Ocean, downtown San Diego, and Coronado Island as you walk along the moderate route. The Coastal Trail is a 1-mile round trip trail that takes you from easy to moderate effort that offers excellent views of the coast. Along the hike, you’ll find native plants, including sage and wildflowers.
Lake Miramar Trail
A 5-mile loop, the Lake Miramar Trail offers two routes – paved and gravel – for people to enjoy a hike around the lake. The trail is easily managed, but doesn’t offer shade during hot days, so you’ll want to dress appropriately and bring water. Home to water sports, including boating, kayaking, and fishing, Miramar Reservoir is part of the San Diego Aqueduct.
From hiking trails along the Pacific Ocean to exploring mountainside paths, this list of 10 Best Hikes in San Diego offers a variety of terrains and skill levels for hikers. From history buffs to nature enthusiasts, San Diego’s trails invite you to explore the region.
Happy Field Tripping!