12 Unforgettable Hikes in San Diego Area

12 Unforgettable Hikes in San Diego Area

By Michael / June 9, 2015
Yosemite park and El Capitan

Any time of year is a good time for a hike. And California doesn’t lack inspiration and beautiful places when it comes to it. Wether you’re looking for a light backpacking trip out of the noisy cities, or you want the hard core “Tom Cruise Mission Impossible” style of hike, you’ll find it in the San Diego area with ease.

Let’s see some less and more difficult hikes you need to do if you are anywhere near San Diego. Seriously, these are not to be skipped, missed, forgotten. It’s a must do! Check it out:

Lake Poway

The beautiful scenery of the lake will leave you breathless. You can visit it from the trails that branch from it (Mt. Woodson, Blue Sky), but this place is so amazing that it is worth a hike on its own. Length: 2.9 miles. Difficulty: Easy


 Image source: Dwayne Andrejczuck (Flickr)

Mount Woodson

Medium length and not so easy hike with the well known “Potato Chip Rock” landmark, where everybody and their neighbor wants to take a picture. Prepare for a bit more than usual traffic. Calculate almost a whole day time for this hike, bring snacks and water. Length: 6.4 miles. Difficulty: Hard

Hanging Out at Potato Chip Rock – Mt. Woodson, Poway, California

 Image source: Sam Antonio Photography (Flickr)

Cedar Creek Falls

Astonishing but deadly! Seriouosly, the swimming pool hole located at the end of the trail is called the Devil’s Punchbowl with a reason. It has witnessed multiple deaths by jumpers. Note that the hard part of this hike is going back (that’s the uphill track). Length: 5.2 miles. Difficulty: Hard

Cedar Creek Falls

Image source: Sam Young (Flickr)

Pacific Crest

Want to hike from Canada to Mexiko? Awesome, here’s the Pacific Crest Trail which lays down the path for you. Stay with the part in California, and you won’t be disappointed. Not only is it beautiful, it makes you feel like you are on a different level of mentality. Beware of the weather, elevation at some places is over 4,000 ft. Length: 4 miles. Difficulty: Moderate

Above Chariot Canyon

Image source: Ihogue46 (Flickr)

Santa Margarita

The Santa Margarita trail is an easy, flat and sandy hike full of wildlife and shade. Be prepared to get your feet wet, as you might need to cross a river at knee-depth. Length: 6.2 miles. Difficulty: Easy


 Image source: Jimmy M (Flickr)

Stonewall Peak

Day or night, the Stonewall Peak at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park will have for you an offer you can’t refuse. Hiking it from the east side is the easy trail. Climb the stairs at the top to enjoy the breathtaking 360 degree view of your surroundings. Length: 5.3 miles. Difficulty: Moderate

Stonewall Peak, Milky Way, and burnt trees on a cloudy night

Image source: slworking2 (Flickr)

Torrey Pines

Hike the Guy Fleming or The Razor Point trail in Torrey Pines and enjoy the beautiful ocean views. The cliffs will give you shivers. And they say on a silent night you can hear pirates crying out from the crashing waves. Length: 5.6 miles. Difficulty: Moderate.


Image source: David Colombo Photography (Flickr)

Iron Mountain

The trail with a scary name covers path that has something to offer for any hiking levels. It’s very popular, prepare for moderate traffic. Pack your sunscreen. There’s no shade.. Length: 6.4 miles. Difficulty: Moderate (optionally, you can chose Hard trails too)

Image ID# Whalen-080119-1183 | Iron Mountain Series

Image source: Josh Whalen (Flickr)

Oak Canyon

Mission Trails Regional Park offers endless options for You and other hikers. There is more than 40 miles of trail at near the beautiful lakes of Kumeyaay and Murray. The Oak Canyon Trail is one of the most popular to hike on. Length: 3 miles. Difficulty: Moderate

Lake of Clouds

Image source: Charles Jellison (Flickr)

Cowles Mountain

Popular trail because of its proximity. Prepare yourself for moderate traffic (crowd). Well worth to wait for the sunrise, and if you’re lucky, when the sun is up you might see from San Diego all the way to Mexico. Length: 4 miles. Difficulty: Easy.

Cowles Mountain Trail in California

Image source: Scott Murphy (Flickr)

El Capitan

For the hard core hikers we recommend this hot, dusty and steep trail. But you know, for some views it is worth suffering. Just remember that this one goes uphill both ways. Make it to the top and you’ll get an astonishing 360 view of San Diego. Length: 11.2 miles. Difficulty: Very hard.

Yosemite park and El Capitan

Three Sisters Falls

This is one of the most hard, most challenging and most beautiful hikes in the San Diego area. Three Sisters Falls is the ultimate place for rocky terrain. And you will need to use ropes to climb up and down. Not for the faint of heart. Length: 4 miles. Difficulty: Extremely hard

Three Sisters and Agathla Peak and Black Mesa in Monument Valley

Image source: Dan Sorensen Photography (Flickr)

Is your favorite place listed? When did you hike it? It isn’t listed? Tell us about your dream hike in the comments below.

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