10 more best hikes in San Diego


Tired of Torrey? Crushing Cowles and craving a bigger challenge? Our original 10 best San Diego hikes story is consistently ranked as one of the most-read articles, so we thought we’d give you hikers, fit-fanatics and weekend warriors a new roundup of dirt-covered routes.

Here are 10 more hikes to try in San Diego. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out our original list of the 10 most popular hikes first.

La Jolla Coast Walk Trail

This easy path runs right along the coastline and captures spectacular ocean views. Start around the Children’s Pool area where the seals play, and walk past Ellen Browning Scripps Park, La Jolla Cove and The Cave Store, where the path then turns into a dirt trail. The walk ascends along the cliffs and levels off at a wooden foot bridge, ending at a remarkable lookout point.

Length: 1-2 miles, depending on starting point // Difficulty: Easy

Getting there: From I-5, exit La Jolla Parkway and continue on Torrey Pines Road. Turn right on Prospect St. and park near Jenner St. to reach the starting point at the Children’s Pool.

Lake Miramar

Striding around Lake Miramar is an easy way to get the heart pumping without any climb (or cars). The paved path here circles the lake, and is shared by runners, walkers, bikers and more. Quarter-mile markers will help you track your progress.

Length: 5 miles // Difficulty: Easy

Getting there: Start and end at the parking lot off Scripps Lake Drive near I-15 and follow the path around Lake Miramar.

Pacific Crest Trail – Penny Pines to Garnet Peak

Ever since the best-selling book and movie “Wild” came out, hordes of hikers have been flocking to the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs in its entirety from Mexico to Canada. While the 2,650 miles may be a bit ambitious, there’s a short San Diego stretch to try in the fall months from Penny Pines Trailhead to Garnet Peak.

Length: 2.3 miles // Difficulty: Moderate

Getting there: Take I-8 E and exit at Sunrise Highway. Start at the Penny Pines Trailhead about 27 miles up Sunrise Highway. Follow the Pacific Crest Trail to Garnet Peak through Laguna Recreation Area.

Santa Margarita River Trail

This out-and-back trail located near Fallbrook features a soothing river and plenty of shade from the trees. The hike has plenty of access to the water, making it especially fun for families with kids. Just be aware that you might be sharing the path with horses and dogs on leashes.

Length: 6 miles // Difficulty: Moderate

Getting there: Take I-15 N and exit toward Mission Road/Fallbrook. Turn right on Pico Ave. and stay right at the fork onto Sandia Creek Drive. A parking lot is about one mile out.

San Elijo Lagoon – La Orilla Trailhead to Rios Avenue Trail

This easy stroll is popular with families, walkers and joggers. You can enjoy plentiful shade from the trees, the sound of woodpeckers and a possible deer-spotting along the creek banks. The San Elijo Lagoon Ecologial Reserve is a 1,000 acre reserve between Solana Beach and Encinitas.

Length: 5.94 miles roundtrip (2.97 miles one way) // Difficulty: Easy

Getting there: Take I-5 and exit Lomas Santa Fe. Drive east. Turn left on Highland Road, left on El Camino Real and look for the parking area on the left.

Blue Sky Reserve Trail to Lake Ramona

Take in views of Lake Ramona and the distant Lake Poway on this easy, oak tree-filled path. The first 1.5 mile stretch is a flat walk, and then starts to incline. Turn left at the Lake Ramona fork as the trail begins a gradual ascent. Once at the top, enjoy the view over the blue waters of the lake.

Length: 4.5 miles roundtrip (2.25 miles one way) // Difficulty: Easy

Getting there: From I-15 exit at Rancho Bernardo Road and head east for 3.5 miles. Watch for the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve sign on the left, and turn into the nearby parking lot.

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve – Way Up and Equine Incline Trail

The Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve has North County hikers and bikers exploring up and down. The Way Up Trail, as the name suggests, is a bit more challenging in incline for 1.4 miles until you run into a split in the road. Opt for the Equine Incline Trail, which takes a 2.6 mile loop into some of the more isolated parts of the Reserve.

Length: 5.6 miles // Difficulty: Moderate

Getting there: From I-15 take the West Valley Parkway exit. Turn right on Avenida Del Diablo and right on Citracado Parkway. Turn left on Harmony Grove Road and drive until you see parking lot on the left.

Goodan Ranch and Sycamore Canyon Preserve Loop

This peaceful hike winds through both Sycamore Canyon, a 1,700-acre wilderness area between Poway and Santee, and the bordering 325-acre Goodan Ranch. The diverse landscape is particularly popular in spring or fall, when colors are in full bloom.

Length: 6.4 miles // Difficulty: Moderate

Getting there: The entrance is located on the west side of Highway 67, approximately 0.7 miles south of Scripps Poway Parkway.

Mount Gower Open Space Preserve Trail

Located near Ramona, this difficult trail has steep inclines up to the main peak. There are large rock formations to admire in the upper elevations, with a small scramble up to get to the unbeatable views at the summit.

Length: 8 miles // Difficulty: Hard

Getting there: Follow Highway 78 past Escondido and into Ramona. At the junction with Highway 67, go straight and follow San Vicente Road, bearing left when it splits to Wildcat Canyon Road. Turn left on Gunn Stage Road and follow until the road dead ends at the parking lot.

Double Peak

This loop hike located near San Marcos starts at Discovery Lake Park and winds up to Double Peak, the second highest peak in the Cerro de las Posas Mountains. Views are spectacular here, with a large portion of the hike winding on paved roads.

Length: 5 miles // Difficulty: Moderate

Getting there: Take Highway 78 to San Marcos Blvd. Turn left onto Bent Ave. which will turn into Craven Road. Turn right onto Foxhall Drive, and then turn right into the Discovery Lake parking lot or park along the street.


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