6 Scenic Hikes Perfect for Enjoying San Diego’s Great Outdoors

Santa Margarita River Trail

This wooded path takes you through green grass and along a picturesque river. Stop and dip your feet in the river if you get too hot.

Start here: Sandia Creek Drive and Rock Mountain Drive

Length: 6 miles for the loop

Level: Easy

 

North Fortuna Peak

This trip takes you to a lesser-known part of Mission Trails Regional Park than the well-traversed Cowles Mountain. It’s also a part of the newly launched Five-Peak Challenge. Hike the park’s quintet of peaks over 1,000 feet and snap a selfie at the top of each for an official certificate and pin.

Start here: SR-52 and Mast Boulevard

Length: 5.4 miles

Level: Moderate

 

Lake Miramar

This path is flat, car-free, and follows a perfect 5-mile loop that hugs the lake the entire way. As you cross the dam on the western side of the lake, you’re treated to a picturesque view of La Jolla.

Start here: Scripps Lake Drive at the Miramar Water Treatment Plant

Length: 4.9 miles

Level: Moderate

 

Upper Otay Reservoir

This relatively hidden loop has beautiful views of the upper and lower Otay lakes. Early on the trail, you’ll pass the upper reservoir dam, which has been covered with graffiti. It makes for a startling sight in the middle of natural open space. You can extend your run and feel like an Olympian by taking Wueste Road to Olympic Parkway.

Start here: Otay Lakes Road about a half mile east of Wueste Road

Length: 2.2 miles for the loop

Level: Moderate

 

Annie's Canyon Trail

This trail used to be covered with graffiti, but was recently reopened after a grant-funded restoration. Following it means climbing through narrow rock passages and a chance to detour into a cave. After tracing the route, you can continue along the Solana Hills trail if you want a longer hike or run.

Start here: North Rios Avenue and Solana Point Circle

Length: 0.25 miles for the loop

Level: Easy

 

El Capitan Trail

The trail up one of San Diego County’s highest points is rigorous but has unbeatable views. Go soon to take advantage of the cooler weather—you’ll still work up a sweat. In winter months, the parking lot closes at 4:30 p.m., so be sure to arrive early enough to have time for the four- to six-hour hike.

Start here: Wildcat Canyon Road and Shenma Road

Length: 11.2 miles

Level: Difficult

 

For even more trails, click here.

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