Hiking San Diego

In addition to ample sunshine, hiking San Diego offers hikes for everyone. From coastal hikes, to moonscape deserts, to big mountains, there’s tremendous variety. San Diego County’s 4,261 square miles are the most biologically diverse in California, with over 2,000 plant species, over 500 species of birds, and hundreds of species of reptiles and mammals.

Name Distance Level Location Climb Dogs
Torrey Pines Hike3.3EasyLa Jolla500N
Cowles Mountain Hike4.3ModerateSantee1170Y
Hiking Stonewall Peak Trail5.4EasyJulian1020N
Hike Cuyamaca Peak6ModerateJulian1610Y
Potato Chip Rock Hike (San Diego)7.5HardPoway2130Y
Potato Chip Rock Hike

Potato Chip Rock Hike (San Diego)

7.5 miles - Hard

I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of the Potato Chip Rock hike even if you’re not familiar with it. Potato Chip Rock is the iconic rock formation in San Diego County where everyone grabs a photo of themselves perched out on the rock, over the oblivion. The hike to the rock and summit of Mt Woodson is a fun one, with a few options to get to the top. It’s a hard hike because of the uphill, but otherwise well-marked and easy to do. It gets crowded so plan your trip accordingly (keep reading!).

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people on cowles mountain hike

Cowles Mountain Hike

4.3 miles - Moderate

The Cowles Mountain hike brings you to the highest point in San Diego at 1,593ft, with views from Mexico to Orange County. Cowles Mountain is also one of the most popular hikes in San Diego, so I’ve routed this hike up the less trafficked and more scenic “back way” up the mountain. It’s a fun, safe beginners hike, and a must-do if you’re in San Diego.

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hiking stonewall peak trail

Hiking Stonewall Peak Trail

5.4 miles - Easy

The Stonewall Peak Trail hike is the most popular hike in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park for good reason. It’s not too tough, offers great 360 views from Cuyamaca Rancho State Park to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and has a unique bald rock face summit. Give the hike a try, you won’t be disappointed. Stonewall Peak, at 5730ft high, is also right next to the 2nd highest peak in San Diego County, Cuyamaca Peak, and both can be hiked in a day. Break your hikes up with a picnic in Paso Picacho Campground.

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view from cuyamaca peak hike

Hike Cuyamaca Peak

6 miles - Moderate

The hike to Cuyamaca Peak brings you to San Diego County’s second highest point at 6,512 feet. It’s only 20 feet lower than the highest peak, but much easier to hike. On a clear day, you can see for 100 miles from the summit, including the Coronado Islands and Table Top Mountain in Mexico. Even though the hike goes to a high point, it’s not a tough backcountry expedition, but rather a a great hike for a beginner – no tricky twists and turns.

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Torrey Pines Hike

Torrey Pines Hike

3.3 miles - Easy

This Torrey Pines hike takes you to the best of the park – you experience get great ocean views, hike through unique geological formations, get a glimpse of the world-famous golf course, hike on an antique version of the Pacific Coast Highway, and of course, get see the Torrey Pine. The Torrey Pine is the rarest pine tree in the United States and is an endangered species. You can only see them here and on the Channel Islands. As you’re hiking Torrey Pines, remember that the environment is fragile, so please stay on the trail. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is one of those once in a lifetime destinations, I highly recommend this hike!

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