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Visitors Guide: The Best Hikes in San Diego

Getting exercise never feels like a chore when it’s being fulfilled by a hike in one of California’s most beautiful cities- San Diego. Whether you’re a local or just visiting, I think all can agree that hiking in San Diego is one of the best activities you can participate in, no matter what age! Want to get to it but not sure where to start? Below we have listed some of the best hikes in San Diego. Pro-Tip: always bring plenty of water, a hat, and sunscreen for any hike!

1. Los Penasquitos Canyon Trail

The Los Penasquitos Canyon Trail is one of the most tranquil San Diego hikes, being that it is beautiful all year round. There are about 12 miles of trails, with the choice of single track trails near creekss with shade, or larger, sunnier trails and access roads. In the spring, you are lucky enough to come across the gorgeous waterfalls, making this experience feel more like an oasis than a hike!

2. Cowles Mountain  

Reaching the highest peak in the county (1,593 ft), Cowles Mountain has proved itself to be a fan favorite, especially with our Next Level Sailing crew. It is about a 3 mile vertical climb, being moderate in difficulty. With more of a climb, you will get a great workout in while working towards an excellent view of San Diego.

3. Iron Mountain Trail

The Iron Mountain Trail is a boulder-lined trail that can be done by hikers of any skill level. It is moderate-difficult, being that it is 5.8 miles. It starts out flat but progresses into a steeper climb as you get further into the eastern mountains. While there is little shade, hikers are rewarded with incredible panoramic vistas. Keep in mind, it can be hot in the middle of summer so plan to go early in the morning to beat the heat. Bring plenty of water, especially if you are hiking with your dog.

4. Razor Point Trail

Razor Point Trail is located in the Torrey Pines State Reserve and is one of the best hikes in San Diego due to its incredible views. Running at about 1.4 miles in length, this trail is easy-moderate. You will come across beautiful scenery which includes ravines,
badlands, sand, a gorge, and more! Upon completion, you will have the chance to enjoy the one-of-a-kind overlook of eroding cliffs and Pacific Ocean.

5. Guy Fleming Trail

Also located in the Torrey Pines State Reserve is the Guy Fleming trail. Being only .7 miles in length with relatively flat land the whole way through, this trail is one of the easier ones you can take. You will get the chance to experience Torrey Pines closely while also getting the beautiful ocean views. There are two overlooks, one facing South and the other North, along with spring wildflowers and interesting sandstone formations. In the winter, this trail is a great place for Gray Whale watching.

6. Oak Canyon Trail

The Oak Canyon Trail is a 3-mile trail located in the Mission Trails National Park. It is found to be easy-moderate in difficulty with a serene atmosphere that is surrounded by sycamores and an oak-lined ravine. Hikers are accompanied by a stream while they make their way deeper into the canyon.

7. Double Peak Trail

The Double Peak Trail is moderately difficult, starting at Discovery Lake Park in San Marcos and lasting for 5 miles. There are moments of steepness, but many areas for rest. You are working towards a great 360-degree view of the Northern County area which will not disappoint!

8. Three Sisters Falls Trails

With one of the steepest inclines and rocky terrain for 4 miles, the Three Sisters Falls Trails is one of the most challenging hikes in San Diego. This trail is meant for those skilled in rock and boulder climbing, with ropes being placed throughout the route to help its visitors climb up and down. This is another crew favorite, especially because there are beautiful pools that are great for a quick dip. Bring drinks and lunch for a little picnic by the pools. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water!