Best places to go Hiking in San Diego
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.
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.
- California State Parks San Diego Region
Official web site for San Diego County State Oarks