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Best places to go Hiking in San Diego

Updated on September 14, 2008
1) Old Mission Dam, Mission Trails
1) Old Mission Dam, Mission Trails
2) Trail head leading to the beach, Torrey Pine State Park
2) Trail head leading to the beach, Torrey Pine State Park
3) Black Mountain Open Space Park
3) Black Mountain Open Space Park

When I first moved from Northern California to San Diego, I was somewhat shocked how few places there were to go hike, but I was wrong. San Diego has a lot of great hiking, you just have to know where to look and where to go.

If you want to stay close to the city, there is still some real good spots to go hike, and the nice thing is there is variety.

1- Mission Trails. This state park is an old military bombing range, which is now one of the most frequented parks in San Diego. There are two distinct sides of the park that are separated by Mission Gorge Rd. The North Side is larger, spanning all the way from Santee to the East, and from Miramar Military Base in the North all the way into San Diego in total it covers about 5800 acres. Some of the highlights of the park include the Visitor Center, and Old Mission Dam, which is a historical landmark. One the other side of the park there is Cowls Mnt. which is a challenging grade that leads to one of the highest peaks in San Diego and home to an array of radio antennas. The park also features North and South Fortuna Mnt. North Fortuna Mountain is the highest peak in the San Diego City limits, and it gives views all the way from Anza Borrego Dessert in the East, and Downtown San Diego and the Beaches to the West.

2. Torrey Pines. Torrey Pines National Reserve is park situated along the North side of the San Diego city limits. It sits right besides the world famous Torrey Pines golf course. The park contains over 8 miles of trails winding up and down from the beach to the head of the cliff. Most of the trails contained within the park are mild to moderate,but provide beautiful coastal scenery. There is a parking lot at the North end of the park which you have to pay to use, but there is plenty of street side parking as well along different parts of the park as well.

3.Black Mountain Open Space Park The park is located with in the City of San Diego and is made up of a series of chaparral and sage covered hills, ridges, and canyons. It is located in the Rancho Peñasquitos area of northern San Diego. The park is currently 2,352 acres, with expansion a future possibility. The center piece of the park is the 1,554 foot summit of Black Mountain which provides 360 degree views of the surrounding area. On a clear day the visitor can scan the horizon for ocean views to the west, mountain views to the north and east, and views of downtown San Diego to the south. Access to the summit is provided by a 2.5 mile hike or bike ride up a dirt road.

The parks and areas listed above are just some of the larger formal parks, but if you look around the greater San Diego area you will find trails all over the place. To the South in Chula Vista you have Otay Mesa, and there is Mount Miguel. In the North in Escondido you have Palomar Mountain and the world famous observatory. A lot the local spots you wont find on a map or a city parks web site, but are really the true gems of the area. So make sure to ask around and see what the locals have to say as well.

4) Eagle Creek, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
4) Eagle Creek, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
5) Anza Borrego State Park
5) Anza Borrego State Park

If you want to Make a day trip out of it, there is some world class hiking. The desert can be one of the most beautiful places on earth, and San Diego County has some of the greatest desert parks in the nation.

4. Cuyamaca Rancho State Park- The park is located 40 miles east of the city of San Diego and it covers over 26,000 acres it is considered high desert and has pine, fur, and oak forest with large sprawling meadows. It also plays host to the 6,500 ft. Cuyamaca Peak, which happens to be the second highest point in San Diego county.

5. Anza Borrego State Park- It is the largest state park in California and the second largest in the nation. It covers over 600,000 acres and has over 110 miles of hiking trails. The park sits on the far east of the county lines two hours out of San Diego, and spreads over two other counties. Anza Borrego is known the world wide for its majestic beauty and untouched scenery.

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    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      I've hiked around Torry Pines as well as the Anza Borrego. both places are extraordinary. Being from the east coast, the two places were a total shock to my senses. I could go on forever about the dramatic scenery, the incredible blue sky, the desert, the mountains,and the Pacific Ocean. I fell in love with the Anza Borrego and cried when it was time to leave.

    • profile image

      Charlie Jones 

      8 years ago

      Best places to go Hiking in San Diego79

      rate or flag this pageBy DuqueDupre

      1) Old Mission Dam, Mission Trails

      2) Trail head leading to the beach, Torrey Pine State Park

      3) Black Mountain Open Space Park Outdoors San Diego: Hiking, Biking & Camping

      Price: $19.95

      List Price: $19.95

      Afoot & Afield San Diego County: A Comprehensive Hiking Guide (Afoot and Afield)

      Price: $13.26

      List Price: $22.95

      Wilderness Basics: Hiking, Backpacking, Mountain Biking (Mountaineers Outdoor Basics)

      Price: $6.99

      List Price: $16.95

      Walking San Diego: Where to Go to Get Away from It All

      Price: $4.06

      List Price: $16.95

      When I first moved from Northern California to San Diego, I was somewhat shocked how few places there were to go hike, but I was wrong. San Diego has a lot of great hiking, you just have to know where to look and where to go.

      If you want to stay close to the city, there is still some real good spots to go hike, and the nice thing is there is variety.

      1- Mission Trails. This state park is an old military bombing range, which is now one of the most frequented parks in San Diego. There are two distinct sides of the park that are separated by Mission Gorge Rd. The North Side is larger, spanning all the way from Santee to the East, and from Miramar Military Base in the North all the way into San Diego in total it covers about 5800 acres. Some of the highlights of the park include the Visitor Center, and Old Mission Dam, which is a historical landmark. One the other side of the park there is Cowls Mnt. which is a challenging grade that leads to one of the highest peaks in San Diego and home to an array of radio antennas. The park also features North and South Fortuna Mnt. North Fortuna Mountain is the highest peak in the San Diego City limits, and it gives views all the way from Anza Borrego Dessert in the East, and Downtown San Diego and the Beaches to the West.

      2. Torrey Pines. Torrey Pines National Reserve is park situated along the North side of the San Diego city limits. It sits right besides the world famous Torrey Pines golf course. The park contains over 8 miles of trails winding up and down from the beach to the head of the cliff. Most of the trails contained within the park are mild to moderate,but provide beautiful coastal scenery. There is a parking lot at the North end of the park which you have to pay to use, but there is plenty of street side parking as well along different parts of the park as well.

      3.Black Mountain Open Space Park The park is located with in the City of San Diego and is made up of a series of chaparral and sage covered hills, ridges, and canyons. It is located in the Rancho Peñasquitos area of northern San Diego. The park is currently 2,352 acres, with expansion a future possibility. The center piece of the park is the 1,554 foot summit of Black Mountain which provides 360 degree views of the surrounding area. On a clear day the visitor can scan the horizon for ocean views to the west, mountain views to the north and east, and views of downtown San Diego to the south. Access to the summit is provided by a 2.5 mile hike or bike ride up a dirt road.

      The parks and areas listed above are just some of the larger formal parks, but if you look around the greater San Diego area you will find trails all over the place. To the South in Chula Vista you have Otay Mesa, and there is Mount Miguel. In the North in Escondido you have Palomar Mountain and the world famous observatory. A lot the local spots you wont find on a map or a city parks web site, but are really the true gems of the area. So make sure to ask around and see what the locals have to say as well.

      4) Eagle Creek, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

      5) Anza Borrego State Park If you want to Make a day trip out of it, there is some world class hiking. The desert can be one of the most beautiful places on earth, and San Diego County has some of the greatest desert parks in the nation.

      4. Cuyamaca Rancho State Park- The park is located 40 miles east of the city of San Diego and it covers over 26,000 acres it is considered high desert and has pine, fur, and oak forest with large sprawling meadows

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 

      9 years ago from Guwahati, India

      The trip in hiking in a climatically good region not only refreshes the mind but also helps to improve the condition of heart.

    • profile image

      Natalia Jones 

      9 years ago

      Good choice of trails! My favorite one is Hot Springs Mountain trail near Warner Springs. This trail is over 5 miles long and a little steep in the beginning but the hike becomes easier as it winds up the south slope of Hot Springs Mountain.

      If you're in San Diego and need more information on things to do in the area check out: http://www.mytravelguideposts.com/2009/06/san-dieg...

    • profile image

      ejc123 

      9 years ago

      How about Joshua Tree on a (long) day trip? It is further than Anza Borrego, but has world-class rockclimbing and amazing trails.In general - I would expand beyond the immediate area of SD.

      http://www.tripcart.com/usa-regions/Southern-Calif...

      http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/north-amer...

    • TomasScofield profile image

      TomasScofield 

      9 years ago

      Great info mate, I haven't really hiked much when I'm in SD, but maybe I will when I head over there this summer

      https://hubpages.com/misc/San-Diego-Advertising-Sp...

    • profile image

      Melissa Howe 

      9 years ago

      Great info on hiking in the San Diego area. I also like hiking to Cedar Falls. Cabrillo National Monument is a beautiful area overlooking the bay with some hiking trails as well.

    • thegecko profile image

      Warren Samu 

      10 years ago from San Diego, CA

      Definitely agree on Mission Trails and Torrey Pines as your two top picks. Mine too :)

    • Research Analyst profile image

      Research Analyst 

      10 years ago

      Great info, thanks. This will be really useful.

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