Photo of Hiking Trails in San Diego, CA

The Best Hiking Trails in San Diego, CA

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Trail adventures up and down the coast

San Diego is a fantastic city for hikers and walkers. With stunning beaches to the west and plentiful mountains to the east, it’s a great place to get out on the trail. We used the data from hundreds of thousands of hikes to find the best hikes in San Diego.

If you’re looking for the most popular hike in San Diego, we suggest you head to Crowles Mountain.At the summit of this spectacular peak, you’ll have views of the city and the sea. The Torrey Pines Hiking trail is another great family friendly option.

It’s our mission to help you explore the world around you. Any of the trails on our Best hikes in San Diego list will set you up for a great adventure. Have fun out there and be sure to share your adventure on Strava!

Top 10 hiking trails in San Diego, CA

1

Cowles Mountain Trail

Hard
2.92 mi(1h 15m)·
912 ft
Take in the views from the highest point in San Diego on this popular and challenging hike. The Cowles Mountain Trail can be found just off Golfcrest Road in Mission Trails regional park. The trail follows an out and back route. The hike has steep overall grades throughout so be prepared for a good workout. This is one of the most popular hikes with Strava members in San Diego.
2

Torrey Pines

Easy
2.41 mi(53m)·
402 ft
This hike around The Torrey Pines State Natural Preserve is a fun and family friendly way to explore the stunning coastal hills. You’ll briefly follow the park road, take a loop around the Guy Fleming Trail then stop by a few memorable viewpoints. Most consider this an easy route for beginner hikers, families, or those just looking for a beautiful stroll by the sea. This hike is one of the most popular trails among Strava members in San Diego.
3

South Fortuna Mountain Loop from Clairemont Mesa

Moderate
5.3 mi(2h 3m)·
1,163 ft
The South Fortuna Mountain Loop from Clairemont Mesa is a rewarding hike in the Mission Trails Regional Park. There are a number of hiking options in the park, but this route is the one commonly completed by Strava members. You’ll pick up the trailhead on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard then hike out towards South Fortuna Mountain. Most hikers choose to complete the loop section in the counterclockwise direction, summit South Fortuna Mountain First, and return via the Fortuna Saddle Trail and Suycott Valley Trail. Overall, this is a popular and highly recommended hike among Strava members in San Diego.
4

Cowles Mountain Via Cowles Service Road

Hard
2.83 mi(1h 4m)·
915 ft
This route up Cowles Mountain, via the Cowles Service Road is another popular way to hike to the highest peak in San Diego. The service road is unpaved and steep in sections. This trail is guaranteed to give you a good workout. This hike follows an out and back route. It’s one of the most popular hikes with Strava members in San Diego and the views from the top are worth the hard effort to get up there!
5

Iron Mountain Trail

Hard
5.51 mi(2h 9m)·
1,126 ft
The Iron Mountain Trail is a rewarding hike to a bouldered summit with great views just outside San Diego. The trail follows an out and back route with a set of switchbacks that lead to the summit. Because of the steep grades and significant overall trail length, most consider this a challenging hike. This is one of the most popular hikes with Strava members that live in the San Diego Area. On a clear day, you may be able to see all the way to the Catalina Islands from the summit.
6

Kwaay Paay Peak Trail

Hard
2.37 mi(1h 5m)·
900 ft
The Kwaay Paay Peak Trail is an enjoyable hike to Kwaay Paay peak on the northside of Mission Trails Regional Park. This hike follows an out and back route, although it is possible to carry on down the south side of the peak and return to the start point via the Father Junipero Serra Trail. This hike is continuously steep, so expect a good workout. You can hit the trail confidently, knowing this is one of the most popular hikes among local Strava members.
7

Black Mountain Summit via Nighthawk Trail and Miners Ridge Trail

Easy
3.78 mi(1h 26m)·
867 ft
This hike to the summit of Black Mountain follows a popular route to stunning views of the San Diego area. The trail follows an out and back route. There are several steep sections, so come prepared for a fun and challenging adventure. This particular route begins on the Nighthawk trail, then turns on to Miner’s Ridge Trail to the summit. This is how most Strava members hike this peak, so you can have confidence it’s a fun round trip!
8

Potato Chip Rock

Hard
6.89 mi(2h 45m)·
2,001 ft
Potato Chip Rock is one of the most fun hikes in Southern California. The thin, snack-like rock sits at the summit of Mount Woodson and makes a fantastic photo op. This route, which is most popular with Strava members, follows the Mount Woodson Trail from Lake Poway to the summit where you’ll find the famous rock. The trail follows an out and back route. Because of the length, most consider this a hard hike. This hike is popular with Strava members in the greater San Diego area.
9

Tecolote Canyon Trail

Easy
4.98 mi(1h 42m)·
365 ft
The Tecolote Canyon Trail is a welcoming and fun hiking and walking trail near Mission Bay in San Diego. Hikers pick up the trailhead at the Tecolote Park parking lot and follow the creekbed. You can go as far out as you like before turning back on this out and back route. There are a few steep sections, but most consider this an easy hike for hikers of all abilities. This is a popular trail among Strava members in the San Diego area.
10

Annie’s Canyon Trail

Easy
1.34 mi(34m)·
240 ft
Annie’s Canyon Trail is a fun and welcoming hike that leads to a cool canyon with ocean views. After a scenic hike along the Rios Ave Trail, you’ll be able to explore Annie’s Canyon, a natural slot canyon in the sandstone hillside. The trail follows an out and back route. The trail itself is easy for hikers of all abilities, but going through Annie’s Canyon will require some clambering over rocks and climbing steel ladders. This unique hike is popular with Strava members in San Diego.