San Diego’s 10 best ‘hidden’ hikes for the holidays

The entrance to Annie’s Canyon Trail on Wednesday in Solana Beach, California.
(Eduardo Contreras / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Looking to get outside over the holidays? Hidden San Diego offers some of the most unique hiking experiences in San Diego County.

From cemeteries and abandoned buildings to gorgeous views and waterfalls, founder Jessica Johnson has cataloged more than 200 adventures on her websites and

Offering a practical guide to largely unknown hikes and points of interest around the region, Hidden San Diego has become a local sensation, garnering 2.4 million hits a year after less than a decade in existence.

Hidden San Diego website offers adventure but raises ethical questions »

Here’s the adventure maven’s top 10 winter hikes for 2017.

  1. Eagle Rock: This 7-mile trek to the rock formation sits along the Pacific Crest Trail. To get there, hike south on the trail from the Warner Springs Fire Station on state Route 79.
  2. Annie’s Canyon Trail (formerly known as Mushroom Caves): These water-carved sandstone canyons offer a short but inspiring hike that ends with a view of the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve in Solana Beach. The trail head is accessible from the north end of North Rios Ave.
  3. The Weir: This 3-mile hike starts from the parking lot of the Doane Valley Nature Trail on Palomar Mountain. Along the path visitors will find an old stone weir constructed along a creek.
  4. Galleta Meadows metal sculptures: Metal sculptures of animals and dinosaurs abound in the Anza Borrego Desert. One location to take in a bunch of these creatures is Galleta Meadows, located in Borrego Springs off Henderson Canyon Road.
  5. Bridle Trail: Located in Balboa Park, west of state Route 163, the path is accessible at points along Sixth Avenue and Balboa Drive. The natural beauty of the trail provides a stark contrast to the cars and urbanization surrounding it.
  6. Sunset Cliffs sea caves: The open-ceiling caves are accessible only during the lowest tides and are located about half mile north of the parking lot in the Sunset Cliffs Natural Park in Point Loma.
  7. Green Valley Falls: Located in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park along the Sweetwater River, the falls are accessible along a roughly 4.5-mile Green Valley Falls Trail.
  8. Boulder Park Mystery Caves: Located at the Desert View Tower in Jacumba off Interstate 8 on In-Ko-Pah Road, the boulder park offers a maze of tunnels and funky creatures carved into the rocks.
  9. Rancho Peñasquitos Waterfall: Located in the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, the falls are a leisurely jaunt from the trailhead off Black Mountain Road.
  10. Presidio Park Hiking Trails: Located in a park in Old Town San Diego, a short stroll from the Serra Museum, the trails include the site of California’s first mission and the ruins of the first European settlement on the west coast.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the access route to Eagle Rock.

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