The Best Hikes Near San Diego

A nice hike isn‘t just a lovely day in the great outdoors — it can also be a great way to stay in shape. “America’s Finest City” has a large number of hiking opportunities around the area that are perfect for trail-trekkers of all levels. And given our mild year-round weather, there’s never a bad time to experience them for yourself. So if you’re interested in a little exploration, check out our picks for the best hiking trails in San Diego and head out in search of adventure.

Fortuna Mountain Trail (15.4 miles from the hotel)

(Photo: @stephelou)

This relaxed, looping trail in the Mission Trails Regional Park offers six to eight relaxed miles of gorgeous hillsides, wildflowers, grassy plains, riverbends, and a waterfall. There are few better local spots for birdwatching, and other wildlife (such as turtles, deer, and waterfowl) may also be abundant in the area depending on the season. Lush overhead vegetation typically offers good protection from the sun even on hot midsummer days.

11440 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92124

Torrey Pines State Beach (16 miles away)

(Photo: @snothwehr)

For a truly unique San Diego hiking experience you simply can’t get anywhere else, head to Torrey Pines State Beach. The preserve offers a multitude of trails, all of which feature gorgeous scenery. Expect gentle rises, spectacular views of the Pacific, and an abundance of local vegetation — including the extremely rare tree from which the park draws its name. If you visit, please remember that Torrey Pines is protected land, so follow the maxim of “Leave no trace.” Even removing a souvenir rock is not permitted. 

12600 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla CA


Mission Trails Regional Park (17 miles away)

(Photo: @missiontrails_regionalpark)

Mission Trails is one of San Diego’s loveliest hidden gems. The park itself includes many paths, including the popular Kumeyaay Lake trail — a brisk 1.8-mile stroll past some lovely bodies of water and lush greenery. Starting near the lake adjacent to the campground and winding your way down to the Old Mission Dam isn’t just an enjoyable walk — it’s an undeniably picturesque one. Bird-watchers will also find much to love here. 

1 Father Junipero Serra Trail, San Diego, CA 92119


Cowles Mountain (17.6 miles away)

(Photo: @eretovar)

The Cowles Mountain Hiking Trail is a great spot to take in a gentle hike. A quick and breezy three-mile trail winds through nearby La Mesa, past beautiful wildflowers and other native vegetation. The terrain is even and gradual enough for hiking, running, or mountain biking, and is also dog-friendly — as long as your four-legged companion is kept leashed. The best part? The unbeatable city views you’ll take in along the way.

7001 Golfcrest Dr, San Diego, CA


San Elijo Ecological Reserve (18.6 miles)

(Photo: @abbeylaine122)

San Elijo’s seven-plus miles of winding, interconnected trails make their way through some of San Diego County’s most beautiful landscapes. Wetlands, canyons, and gently sloping pathways offer delightful natural surprises around every bend. The campus also includes a nature center with exhibits, activities, and even a special area for kids. The wildlife-spotting is particularly good at San Elijo, so be sure to bring your camera — especially to snap a shot or two of the incredibly picturesque Annie’s Canyon Trail, seen above.

2710 Manchester Avenue, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007


Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve (20.4 miles away)

(Photo: @matilda_castren)

Los Peñasquitos (“little cliffs”) is a great trail for those who want to enjoy mountain-feel views without having to hire an expedition crew. There are two approaches (east and west), and the trailheads offer 6.5-mile and 5.5-mile trails. The terrain is gradual and level, but the trails are surrounded by the striking rocky terrain that gave the area its name. Like most San Diego hikes, the views in Los Peñasquitos are truly spectacular. 

12020 Black Mountain Road, Rancho Peñasquitos, CA


Black Mountain Open Space Park (20.9 miles away)

(Photo: @aunt_karkol_luvs_2_hike)

Hikers trekking the trails in this scenic area can expect panoramic 360-degree views, as well as a variety of rolling terrain and plant life throughout the entire trip. The 2.5-mile, 1,554-foot journey to the summit of eponymous Black Mountain offers a rewarding trek at a medium level of challenge. Once atop the mountain, hikers can take in breathtaking ocean, mountain, and downtown San Diego views on all sides of the peak.   

12115A Black Mountain Road San Diego, CA 92129


Batiquitos Lagoon (26.1 miles away)

(Photo: @batiquitos)

Hikers at Batiquitos can look forward to a low-elevation wetland walk on a 3.25-mile trail that winds through a park-like environment. If you go, you’ll encounter lots of families, dog walkers, and more than a few bird-watchers. Owls, ducks, swans, and other water-loving birds make Batiquitos their home in large numbers. The Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation also sponsors several yearly events ideal for spotting our feathered friends.

Batiquitos Dr. at Pelican St. Carlsbad, CA


Iron Mountain Trail (28.5 miles away)

(Photo: @aptaylor007)

Iron Mountain is one of the most popular hikes in the area, and for good reason. The trail affords hikers striking views of the surrounding peaks, as well as the Catalina Islands. The medium-to-challenging trail is dog-friendly and popular for evening hikes as well as early-morning treks. Expect a wide variety of terrain, grasses, and native vegetation. The trail is mostly open, so if you plan to hike during the day, be sure to pack sunscreen.

14909 California Hwy 67, Poway, CA 92064


Hit the Trails

Planning to explore the best San Diego hiking trails for yourself? Take a look at our latest SPECIAL OFFERS and get the best rates for your stay. And if you plan to fuel up before you head out, you’ll also want to make a stop at Humphreys SoCal Dining and Music for an energy-packed breakfast. We look forward to seeing you!