Where to Hike in San Diego

Where are the best places to hike in San Diego?

Feeling a little stir crazy? Want to get a head start on your exercise goals for 2017? San Diego has mountains, ocean, desert, and city – all available for you to plan any kind of hike you want.

Cowles Mountain

Cowles is considered the “starter” hike for many San Diegans. Partly due to its popularity and partly due to the trail length (3 miles) and time it takes to get to the summit and back down (under two hours). Even for the beginner, hiking Cowles can be done, if there’s a slow and steady pace. The view from the top is worth every Instagram-able moment, so don’t look up, just look ahead until you reach the top. 

SAN DIEGO, CA – OCTOBER 30: A coastline near Torrey Pines, clear of smoke from the San Diego Fires is seen in this aerial view October 30, 2003 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

The hiking trail at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is one, if not THE, best place to hike if you’re looking for a view. The cliffs are parallel to the Pacific for some of the most breathtaking vistas in the city. The worst part of the hike: the steep pavement climb from the parking lot to the trail. From there, pick your path and admire the views from the trail or take the steps headed straight down to the beach and finish your hike barefoot walking along the water. Bonus: dolphin sightings are common.

Los Penasquitos Canyon

While it’s a far stretch from the desert, the trail can get hot, especially in the late spring and summer months, so it’s best to plan accordingly. It’s also a popular place for wildlife for mountain lions and yes, snakes. The path is on the straight and narrow and shares space with bikers, joggers, and even horses. For those who want to take the trail further in, the reward is a waterfall.

Seven Bridge Walk

There are still plenty of walking areas in the city. A favorite is the Seven Bridge Walk, which as the name suggests makes a connection between seven bridges throughout the Bankers Hill and Hillcrest areas. Spending a whole day taking this “urban hike” leaves enough time to stop for lunch or head into Balboa Park, since there’s no summit or “finish line.” Saunter along, if you’d like. 

There is no shortage of hiking trails in San Diego. These will simply help get you started.