The Lake Poway to Mount Woodson trail is approximately 9 miles round trip, and is best suited for intermediate to advanced hikers. While the trail is well maintained and the terrain isn't too tough, there's a good amount of incline and the trail can be steep and narrow in some areas.
You will get an effective cardio and lower-body workout on the way up, and there are great views along the way of Lake Poway and the Palomar Mountains. The biggest payoff is at the top of the mountain, where the "potato chip rock" offers spectacular views and a memorable photo opportunity.
Know before you go: There's not a lot of shade so start early, wear a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and bring plenty of water. There may be a wait to take pictures at the top, so bring a snack and use your downtime to come up with a creative, triumphant pose.
Also located in Poway, start the hike walking through a path of trees to access the main route. The Iron Mountain trail is 5.8 miles round trip. This is a moderate to intermediate hike, with slight elevation gains and lots of big rocks to climb over on the way up to the summit.
There are fantastic views of the city and surrounding areas, but you can get an even better glimpse by looking through the telescope once you reach the top of the mountain.
Know before you go: This is another hike without a lot of shade, so plan accordingly. Leave your mark and sign the visitor journal at the top of the mountain.
Three Sisters Falls
Three Sisters Falls is located near Julian, about an hour east of downtown San Diego. Although it's only 4 miles round trip, this is an advanced hike. You're definitely in for a great workout as you trek through thick sand and dirt, and scramble over rocks.
This hike is unique because you start from the top and journey to the bottom where cool, refreshing water awaits you in the pools and waterfalls. Wear something you don't mind getting wet so you can cool off and have fun in the waterfalls, but remember to save your energy for the trip back up!
Know before you go: Start early to avoid harsh temperatures and bring plenty of water. Be cautious; there are some dangerous cliffs overlooking the falls. If you're in the mood for a sweet treat after your hike, stop by the world famous Julian Pie Company.
Find a Campground at ReserveAmerica.com.