Your Guide to the Best Hikes in San Diego

One of the many things that makes San Diego a fabulous vacation destination is the excellent hiking opportunities in the area. You’ll find miles of trails in and around San Diego that are perfect for everything from a quick morning run to a full day of exercise. Keep reading to discover the best hikes in San Diego

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These Are the Best Hikes in San Diego

Cowles Mountain Trail

You can’t experience San Diego without trekking to the top of the highest peak in city limits. You can locate this 3-mile trail in Mission Trails Regional Park. Cowles Mountain Trail is one of the most popular hiking trails in San Diego County and for good reason! Reach the top of this trail to find breathtaking, 360-degree views of not only downtown San Diego but also parts of Mexico. This trail is of moderate difficulty, although the first half of the hike is entirely uphill. You’ll want to bring plenty of water. Feel free to bring your furry friend along as well! 

Distance from downtown San Diego: 15-30 minutes 

Local Tip: Continue past the summit to enter the Pyle’s Peak Trail if you’re feeling adventurous. You’ll find even more incredible views.

Mother Miguel Mountain Via Rock House Trail

The view from the top of Mother Miguel Mountain will take your breath away. The hike features one of the best views of San Diego. It also features a beautiful lake and even some wildlife! This 4.3-mile trail is considered moderate, though it can be rocky in some places. The trail is well marked and surely won’t disappoint. 

Distance from downtown San Diego: 20-30 minutes 

South Fortuna Trail 

South Fortuna Trail is an excellent option for those looking for a hiking trail that feels farther away from the city. You’ll find picturesque mountain views and be able to see the San Diego River snaking through a valley below. The hike is a 5.8-mile loop trail located in Mission Trails Regional Park. Although it’s rated as moderate, it may be considered difficult for some. Parts of the trail can be steep with sudden elevation gain, but don’t let this stop you! The view from the top is always worth the trek! 

Distance from downtown San Diego: 20-35 minutes 

Sunset Cliffs Park Trail

The Sunset Cliffs Park Trail is one of the best easy hiking trails near downtown San Diego. It’s the perfect option if you need a short, early-morning run or a sunset picnic spot. The hike is only 1.7 miles and is doable for almost all skill levels. Part of the trail runs along a cliff that offers great views and then leads you to a rock face to overlook the ocean. Some people often climb down the cliffs to explore the small, secluded beaches below. Although this can be fun to watch, we do not recommend doing this. Be mindful of loose rocks and stay at a reasonable distance away from the cliff’s edge. 

Distance from San Diego: 15-25 minutes

Local Tip: While you’re in the Sunset Cliffs area, consider visiting the Sunset Cliffs Sea Cave. This open-ceiling cave is a stunning wonder and usually stays secluded. The cave is only safe to access during negative tide, so be sure to check the tide report before attempting. 

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