Top 5 Hiking Trails in San Diego

1) Torrey Pines State Reserve

The Beach Trail at Torrey Pines is maybe the most popular seaside trek in San Diego. It drops down from the Torrey Pines Visitor Center and progressively follow the upper feigns past Red Butte, intersections with the Razor Point Trail and Yucca Point Trail, to its end on Torrey Pines State Beach close Flat Rock.  All of which is to say, it’s an excellent trail with incredible perspectives that closures in a really pleasant spot. You can additionally get to all the primary store trails from the shore, from the north or south..

In either case, the easier trailhead for the Beach Trail by Flat Rock is the main far up and into whatever remains of the store (from the sunny shore).  Access from the south is a bit of a try, however might be carried out sensibly from the vacation spot access trail at the Torrey Pines Glider Port.  Just be ready for a bit of a walk. This beautiful State Natural Reserve just south of Del Mar offers a surprising variety of trails — some well-traveled, some barely discovered.

2) Cowels Mountain

This heart pumping 3 mile vertical move to the most noteworthy point inside the city of San Diego. At 1,592 feet, the perspective from the highest point of Cowles Mountain makes the trip all the more worth the trouble. I went out there on a Saturday day morning; we must have run into 20 different climbers on the route up. The short separation of the trek misdirects me to believe this one was going to be simple. I was wrong.


Cowles itself is an amateur hike with very few steep inclines but has always been a S.D. favorite due to the fact that it is the highest peak in the county. If you find yourself going up Cowles 2 or three times in order for a better workout, try hiking to Pyle’s Peak instead. Once you find yourself atop Cowles, head towards the radio tower and you should immediately see a sign for Pyle’s Peak. It adds about another 4 miles round trip to your hike and offers much steeper inclines than Cowles. And at the peak I find it to be an even better view than atop Cowles. This trail is wide and clear so no need to fear snakes and such.

3) Mount Woodson

You start the hike at nice Public Park in Poway and follow a fire trail that overlooks the Poway dam for about 3 miles. The trail narrows as you start to climb the mountain. The trail is well marked and kept in great condition. The trail gets steep at times but overall I would give it a 6/10 for difficulty. The view from the top amazing on a clear day you can see the ocean, Downtown San Diego, Iron Mountain HWY 67.


Potato Chip Rock is located at the peak of Mount Woodson in Poway, California. Recently, the hike has become popular due hikers posting creative images on Facebook and Instagram. The hike is approximately 8 miles roundtrip, and during the summer months, it is recommended to start early in the morning due to Poway’s hot desert climate.

The first half of the trail is pretty much an uphill climb, where you’ll find the Potato Chip Rock at the very top. Don’t be surprised if you find a line of people waiting to take their picture on this popular rock! Then, you’ll descend the same trail on your way down. Obviously, you’ll find that going down is a lot faster than going up the trail.

Once you get to the top of the mountain, Potato Chip Rock offers an unforgettable background to take pictures. It looks like you’re on the ledge of a cliff (which you basically are). The views and scenery from the top of the mountain are epic! Definitely bring your camera. Also, the uphill climb is challenging for even experienced hikers, so bring plenty of water.

5) Palm Canyon Trail

To get to this trail you will need to drive to Borrego Springs and head to the west end of Palm Canyon Drive where the ranger station is. You can either park here or at the camp ground. If you park at the ranger station you will have to walk an extra mile to the trail head. Although this extra mile isn’t so bad as it is a flat sidewalk with info stands that have pictures on them and plenty of wildlife to spot. If lost ask rangers for info.


This trail winds a-long a small river that varies in depth with the rainfall. Sometimes it is mostly dry. The trail starts flat and gets steeper as you continue into the canyon. Further into the canyon there is more and more huge boulders and it becomes steeper. Depending on how much water is in the river there are waterfalls and pools with frogs and wildlife all along the trail. Last time I was there I met some people who had seen bighorn sheep just a few minutes earlier and showed me the pictures. There is plenty of wildlife to see. This trail is popular and can get kind of crowded sometimes. In the spring the desert flowers are in bloom, so that is an added bonus. At the end is an odd stand of 40 ft. palm trees that is where the canyon gets its name. The palm stand is interesting to see as it is out of place and a welcome shady rest point.


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