No matter your level of fitness, there is a hike in San Diego for you! The Fairmont Grand Del Mar recently created this lovely
infographic and wanted to share these 5 beautiful hikes with us! They offer panoramic views ranging from immaculate beach stretches to marvelous city views.
1. Torrey Pines State Reserve: The Beach Trail and Razor Point Trail
These trails are perfect for any beach lover! Torrey Pines State Beach is great for swimming and high tides provide great conditions for surfers. While hiking here, you will see the Badland Cliffs and the Big Basin formation, which was created by thousands of year of erosion. The Torrey Pine tree, for which this place was named, is considered one of the rarest plants native to the United States!
Keep an eye out for gray whales, bottlenose dolphins, California sea lions, harbor seals, and orca whales while you walk along the cliffs. You may see the telltale spouts of whales surfacing on the horizon and, if you are lucky, you might catch them rolling their fins out of the water, slapping their tails, or even breaching!
This three-mile hike is rated easy and takes about an hour and a half to complete. If you bring along fishing equipment, there are abundant halibut, yellowfin croaker, and California corbina in these waters. There is a $10 parking fee per vehicle (tip: park on the shoulder of N. Torrey Pines Road) and dogs are not permitted in this area, but there are free guided walks available on weekends!
2. Sunset Cliffs Beach Walk
This easy one-mile hike takes about 45 minutes and will lead you along another beautiful coastal walk. Expect to see some amazing carved coastal bluffs, arches, sea caves, and, as the name suggests, some seriously incredible sunsets.
The sandstone cliffs on the west side of Point Loma are thought to contain many fossils from all eras, including dinosaurs! As for live animals, Sunset Cliffs is a great spot to go birdwatching; you can see hawks, sparrows, finches, and pelicans. In the winter months (mid-December through early January), the California gray whales are commonly seen on their annual migration.
Dogs are permitted on this trail, and there is a dedicated parking lot here. Several staircases have been specifically constructed to lead into the oceans at safe swimming spots, so bring a towel and swimsuit! Do be careful – there can be powerful waves on this walk, so it is advised that only advanced surfers hit the waves here, and they should enter the water at other points along the shore.
3. Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve
If you are a history buff, this is the perfect hike for you! There are Native American historical sites that date back to around 7,000 years ago, and you will see San Diego’s first Mexican land grant, the Rancho de Los Peñasquitos.
For nature lovers, you can spot Pacific tree frogs, crayfish, and largemouth bass at the creek that flows through the area year-round, and mule deer, bobcats, coyotes, and raccoons are commonly seen here as well. If you come to check out the animals, there are wildlife tracking activities available in this area. There are beautiful California live oaks and sycamore trees growing here, as well as 500 other plant species!
The 6.4-mile trail is rated moderate and you should expect to spend about 3.5 hours hiking here. About 2.5 miles in, you will reach Carson’s Crossing, which has a small creek and makes for a perfect rest stop. If you are hiking in the winter or spring months, you will see a waterfall about halfway through the preserve. Dogs are allowed on this trail, but they must been kept on a leash. The east staging area charges a $3 cash usage fee.
4. Iron Mountain Trail
If you are looking for stunning city landscape views, Iron Mountain is perfect for you! At the summit, you can see the entirety of San Diego including Mission Bay, Coronado, and Downtown San Diego. There is a telescope provided at the top to help you fully appreciate these amazing sights.
There are granite boulders of all shapes and sizes can be seen throughout this walk, and keep an eye out for Hawks which can sometimes be seen hunting for wild rabbits overhead. Dogs are welcome here, but parking in limited, so try to come early if you want to get a spot!
The Iron Mountain Trail is another moderately rated hike and is 5.3 miles long. Your trip should take between two and four hours to complete. Sun protection and water are essential for this trail as there is minimal shade and it can get extremely hot here; however the ‘oak corridor’ provides some last minute shade before stepping out into the sun for the final push of the journey. We suggest packing lunch to enjoy at one of the picnic benches located at the summit so you can enjoy the best views in the area along with your meal!
5. Woodson Mountain Trail
This trail is the hardest on the list; it covers 6.5 miles, but has a much steeper elevation gain than the others. The hike will take you 4 to 4.5 hours, but we promise it’s worth the extra effort! There are multiple “summits” along this hike, each offering spectacular views of coastal San Diego County, and you will see mazes of granite boulders throughout the hike, formed by thousands of years of erosion; however, the most iconic spot here is Potato Chip Rock. This amazingly thin rock provides a great photo op, but on busy days and weekends, you will want to get here early, as the wait for your turn to pose on this popular rock can get quite long.
Fishing is a popular activity here, especially at Lake Poway, where there is an abundance of rainbow trout, bluegill, and bass. The trout are most common in the cooler months, while the bluegill are most often seen in warmer seasons, so there is always something to catch here! There is a mandatory catch-and-release policy for Bass fishing from March until the end of May, and a number of boats can be rented for water sports enthusiasts on Lake Poway, whether it is a motor, pedal, or rowing boat.
Rock climbing is allowed on this trail, but be warned; some of these rocks are weaker due to erosion. Dogs are welcome and water is absolutely essential to bring on this hike, as there is virtually no shade here. There is a $5 parking fee for non-Poway residents between the months of March and mid-November. When you get to the summit, make sure to note which direction you came from! • If you start to descend on a paved road when you reach the summit, you will be heading towards Ramona rather than back along the trail you came on!
Here's a great breakdown of the trails showing their length and elevation gain!
Have you taken these incredible hikes in San Diego? Which one is your favorite? Do you know a great scenic hike that wasn’t listed here? Tell us about it in the comments below!