18 Best Hikes in San Diego (According to a Backpacking Guide)


18 Best Hikes in San Diego

1. Potato Chip Rock

Potato Chip Rock is the most popular and the most photographed hike in all of San Diego. Its’ circular, teetering rock formation requires good balance and agility to complete, so it is great for experienced hikers looking for a challenge. The path takes you through the hills of Mt. Woodson, where you can enjoy stunning panoramic views of the entire north county.

2. Cowles Mountain

Cowles Mountain is one of the highest peaks in San Diego, where you can take in marvelous views of the city skyline and Mission Trails Regional Park. The moderately difficult trail offers lots of natural and historical landmarks along the way. Be sure to bring plenty of water and wear the right shoes — you’ll be going uphill the entire time!

3. Kwaay Paay

Kwaay Paay is located in Mission Trails and is the perfect place for a quick and easy hike. It’s the perfect hike for beginners, as the trail is wide-open and the scenery is breathtaking. You can also explore the surrounding urban scenery and historic features.

4. Fiesta Island

If you are looking for a short, scenic hike, then look no further than Fiesta Island. The island offers an idyllic 5-mile loop with lots of native wildlife and incredible views of the bay. This hike is also suitable for more experienced hikers who are looking to get away from the crowds.

5. Three Sisters Falls

Three Sisters Falls is one of the most challenging trails in San Diego. This grueling hike will take you 10 miles through the backcountry of East County. There is a waterfall at the bottom, which makes it worth the effort. Be sure to bring plenty of water and wear layers — it can get quite hot during the summer.

6. Torrey Pines State Beach

Torrey Pines State Beach is a popular spot for all levels of hikers. The trails will take you along the coast, offering stunning views of the ocean. In the springtime, you can see lots of wildflowers blooming in the meadows.

7. Oak Canyon Trail

The Oak Canyon Trail is a scenic, winding trail through the untouched hills of Palomar Mountain. Along the way, you can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding landscape and abundant wildlife. The trail is moderately challenging, so it’s great for beginners who are looking to take their first step into the world of backpacking.

8. Iron Mountain

Iron Mountain is a 5-mile steep climb to the summit of East County. It’s a great hike for experienced hikers looking for a challenge. The summit rewards you with sweeping views of the entire county. Be sure to wear sunscreen and bring plenty of water — this is a long and difficult hike!

9. Cedar Creek Falls

Cedar Creek Falls is a popular spot for experienced hikers and adventure seekers looking for

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