Best San Diego trails and hikes for all-levels

SAN DIEGO - San Diego County is filled with trails to please any level of hiker. Here's our picks for top trails in the region.


Sunset Cliffs (1 mile): This is a smooth trail for hikers looking for an easy walk. It's also filled with scene views, tide pools and beautiful cliffs.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve (0.7 to 1.4 miles): This state beach is home to various short trails for the easy walkers. Each trail leads to beautiful scenes of the surf, sand and plants.

Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve (4.7 miles): Take a step back into time with the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve. The trail is home to a dose of Native American history, a waterfall and sycamore trees.


Cowles Mountain (3 miles): Cowles Mountain is the highest point within the city of San Diego at 1,592 feet. It's a vertical climb that offers promising views every step of the way.

Palomar Mountain Observatory Trail (4 miles): This moderately difficult trail is one of four National Recreation Trails in the region. The trail is well-maintained and is filled with oaks and wildflowers. Hikers also get a stunning view of Mendenhall Valley.

Iron Mountain Trail (3.5 miles): This East County hike is filled with little creatures and beautiful scenes. There are also picnic tables at the top of the trail for a scenic lunch.


Mount Woodson (6.4 miles): This trail is famous for its Potato Chip-shaped rock located at the peak of Mount Woodson. Be prepared for a workout as there's plenty of incline and boulders but it's worth every step!

Cedar Creek Falls (4.5 miles): A visitor use permit is required for this challenging but stunning hike. Cedar Creek Falls gives hikers a piece of the backcountry and is filled with plants, birds and waterfalls. Be sure to also bring water, proper hiking shoes and gear for the uphill climb.

El Capitan (5 miles): The rugged and steep trail is filled with mixed chaparral and gorgeous views. This trail, which peaks at 3,675 feet, also has red ants and poison oak so hikers should be cautious. El Capitan closed in August because of extreme heat.

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