Where to Hike in San Diego

When people think of San Diego, they don’t immediately think of thick forests or waterfalls.

But, San Diego is one of the most diverse cities in the united states. In a single day you can visit a massive forest, climb enormous boulders, and or take a run on the beach. San Diego has a lot to offer prospective hikers, but where should you start?

Now keep in mind, this is a very condensed list. San Diego houses dozens of trails. It’s up to you to find the ones that work the best for your skill level and preference. We just want to give you a place to start, so here are our top 6 hikes in San Diego.

Kwaay Paay (Miles: 2.5, Difficulty: Moderate)

Unlike its other mission trails counter parts, Kwaay Paay is relatively tourist free and at only 2.5 miles, it won’t take a whole day to summit. Kwaay Paay offers incredible views, a cute staircase, and a great work out for such a short hike.

Los Penasquitos Canyon (Distance: 6.4, Difficulty: Easy)

A lush canyon spot with cute bridges, a waterfall, and historical markers, Los Penasquitos is a great hike for anyone with a little time and not a lot of energy. It’s almost completely flat but the length and scenery make up for the lack of inclination.

Iron Mountain (Distance: 5.3, Difficulty: Moderate)

Iron mountain is the most southern peak of a small mountain range that cuts through Poway. It is an extremely popular hike due to its incredible views of Poway and the surrounding mountain range. There is no coverage on this trail so in the summer it tends to get hot fast. Make sure to hydrate often and keep dogs off the trail after 8am.

Stonewall Peak (Distance: 3.8, Difficulty: Moderate)

Stonewall peak is possibly one of the most surprising hikes on this list. Just under the elevation of Cuyamaca peak, its neighbor, it is usually passed up, but it is an incredible hike. Orange sand and manzanita trees make this hike colorful and vibrant and the stair case that cuts into a rock boulder at the end, makes a fantastic payoff.

Big Laguna Loop (Distance: 10, Difficulty: Moderate)

The length is what makes this a moderate hike, as the actual trail is flat. The amazing thing about this trail, is the scenery. Starting from Penny Pines and heading toward the lush Laguna forest you will skirt a meadow filled with a lake and free range cows grazing out in the open.  Once you cut across the road to complete the last 5 miles you will skirt the edge of Laguna mountain on the famous PCT with an amazing view of Anza-Borrego. Pack a lunch and have a break on foster peak with the winds whipping you back. This hike is worth your time.

Volcan Mountain (Distance: 5.2, Difficulty: Hard)

Just north of Julian and sitting across from an active apple orchard, Volcan Mountain trail covers only a small part of the Volcan Mountain Range. There are two ways up, the main trail and a smaller side trail but both are beautiful. Volcan mountain is a steeper trail, but the pay off at the top is worth it, with a huge meadow and incredible views of Anza-Borrego.


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