Active City Spotlight: Hiking in San Diego

Cowles Mountain

Whether you're an advanced trail runner or a casual hiker, San Diego has lots of scenic spots for outdoor enthusiasts. Gear up and grab your water and sunscreen, here are some of the best places to explore in San Diego.

Places to Hike

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the San Diego County's 70 miles of coastline, the northern edge of the city limits keeps its wilderness roots in tact.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is just south of Del Mar near the famous Torrey Pines Golf Club. The 2,000-acre park has mostly been left untouched, though there are 8 miles of trail to explore the San Diego coastline as it once was.

Not only do you get a look at the rare torrey pine trees and other intriguing plants, but the trails take hikers to the tall bluffs overlooking the vast Pacific Ocean. The views are hard to beat.

Other great hikes:

  • Poway: The Mount Woodson Trail is a tough hike, about 9 miles round trip. The highlight is at the top, though, where the razor-thin "Potato Chip Rock" presents an unforgettable photo opportunity. Google it—people get creative.
  • San Diego: Cowles Mountain a 3-mile up-and-down hike to the highest peak in the city of San Diego, about 1,600 feet above sea level.
  • Escondido: Bernardo Mountain towers 1,150 feet above Lake Hodges and has a pretty cool view from the top. The round trip is about 7 miles and is not too challenging.
  • Regional: The closest national park is Joshua Tree, more than two hours northeast of San Diego. The desert park has plenty of nice hikes, including the 49 Palm Oasis trail and the Mastodon Peak.

Stores to Check Out

Adventure 16 is a San Diego original that now has five stores across Southern California. It started as a group of Boy Scouts looking to produce 16mm films of their adventures. They raised money by selling backpacks.

Fifty years later, Adventure 16 is a San Diego favorite for campers, hikers, adventurers and more. Their San Diego location is at 4620 Alvarado canyon with locations in Solana Beach (143 S. Cedros) and Oceanside (2002 S. Coast Highway)

Other stores to check out:

  • REI San Diego (5556 Copley Drive)
  • Nomad Ventures, (405 W. Grand in Escondido)

One Last Tip

If you want a less-traditional hike with twice the beauty, go to Ocean Beach and watch the sunset at Sunset Cliffs (fitting name, right?). There is about 4 miles of off-road coastline that allows for some peaceful, stunning scenery.

More: Tips for Easy Long-Distance Travel

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About the Author

Ryan Wood

Ryan Wood is an editor for He enjoys a good ride and loves participating in endurance events throughout the year. Follow him on Google+.
Ryan Wood is an editor for He enjoys a good ride and loves participating in endurance events throughout the year. Follow him on Google+.

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