(September 23, 2019) Three years ago today, we were founded with the purpose to inspire and educate hikers about the diversity of San Diego’s hiking opportunities. From the coastal views with rare Torrey Pines, to the granite rock-strewn hills of Poway and Ramona, through the forested valleys of Palomar Mountain, and in the desert with blazing red-orange ocotillos, San Diego truly has it all. Throughout the past 36 months, we’ve received emails and messages asking which trails to hike. We’ve curated a list of our favorite hikes to share with you, including dog-friendly trails! This list is not meant to be exhaustive but this first edition truly highlights the diversity of San Diego. Please use this list with the many resources available to you as hikers (such as, Afoot & Afield San Diego County, and the Coast to Cactus Canyoneer trail guide, and the other resources found on this page). This list is now available for free on our website for you to download, print, and use! Download here
Recommended Hiking Guides & Books
We trust the following resources below and highly recommend these guides to help plan your hiking adventures.
Afoot & Afield: San Diego County
Jerry Schad & Scott Turner
"Since 1986, Jerry Schad’s Afoot & Afield: San Diego County has been the premier trail guide for hikers, backpackers, and mountain bikers. In fact, the Los Angeles Times called it the “bible of San Diego hiking.” This fifth edition features 282 trips, ranging from short, self-guided nature trails to challenging peak climbs and canyon treks. Coauthor Scott Turner has fully updated this edition, which includes new maps and more than 30 new hikes."
Coast to Cactus
Diana Lindsay, Paula Knoll, Terri Varnell
"Coast to Cactus: The Canyoneer Trail Guide to San Diego Outdoors is much more than a hiking guide. It is a field guide too. Written by citizen scientists trained by the San Diego Natural History Museum Canyoneers. There are 525 species of plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates that are described in detail. Each hike has a focus on a species or natural/cultural history feature associated with that hike."
Hiking SD County
Sarah provides detailed descriptions of the trails she visits so you can get a full sense of what you will find. Her trail write-ups attempt to bring you with her as she hikes, with numerous pictures and descriptions of both the good and the bad. She will show you not only the fabulous views from the top of the mountain or the silky cascade of the waterfall, but the entirety of the trail that brought us there.
Get Outside San Diego
allows you to:
Find any of the 1,100 parks in San Diego County near your location, close to an address, in your neighborhood zip code, or by park name
See major trails in most parks, as well as parking
Access direct web links to park managing agencies to get much more information
Share park maps and searches with others on social media
Download high quality maps of most parks over 10 acres (use them in emails, web posts, newsletter articles, reports, or in flyers for group outings)