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163 Walking + Running + Hiking Trails in San Diego North County (2017 Master List)

walking running hiking trails san diego

Whether you prefer a paved, flat walking path in a city park or rugged terrain that gets your heart pumping, North County San Diego is home to plenty of options that will allow you to bypass the gym in favor of an outdoor workout.

This extensive guide to trails and walking paths in North County is filled with options for walking, jogging, running and hiking, including routes that are both stroller and wheelchair friendly, those that keep you in an urban setting, and those that allow you to explore the wilderness and get up close and personal with nature.

walking running hiking trails in san diego North County Coastal

(Del Mar to Oceanside)

DEL MAR

1. San Dieguito River Park Trail

The Coast to Crest Trail runs from Del Mar to Volcan Mountain near Julian with some spots that have not yet been developed or fully connected. This section, which begins at the San Dieguito Lagoon Boardwalk in Del Mar, is generally referred to as the Coast to Polo Fields section and will probably get you all the way from the boardwalk to the polo fields at some point, but this 3.42-mile section of the trail is not quite complete and, at the time of this writing, it is actually just 2.14 miles in length and stops at the Del Mar Horsepark because of a river bank failure. The trail will need to be repaired or relocated to get it reconnected, but it still offers more than two miles of trail to enjoy.

  • San Dieguito Lagoon, Del Mar
  • Hours: Dawn to Dusk

2. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Extension

Unlike the main reserve to the south, the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Extension does not have huge parking fees or crowds of people on the trails. This more tranquil option with free street parking offers great scenery and ocean views from a well-marked trail system that includes several smaller trails that can be combined for a longer hike. Bikes, dogs and horses are not allowed on the trails. This trail map will help you determine where to access the trail.

  • Del Mar Scenic Parkway, Mira Montana Drive or Mar Scenic Drive, Del Mar
  • Hours: 7:15am to Sunset

3. San Dieguito County Park Trails

This 125-acre park offers lots of amenities and is a great place to spend an entire day with your family. You can easily leave your partner to watch the kids at the playground and head off on the walking paths to burn some calories and take advantage of the fitness stations on Activity Hill. There are also suspension bridges for the entire family to enjoy and easy, well-marked hiking trails that allow you to enjoy nature without leaving the city. There is plenty of parking in the designated parking lot, which has a $3.00 parking fee.

  • 1628 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Del Mar
  •  Hours 9:30 to Sunset

4. Seagrove Park Walking Path

Seagrove is a beautiful, beachfront park with a paved path for walking, jogging or running. This is a great spot for your morning run or for meeting friends to take a leisurely afternoon stroll with your strollers. The views are amazing, the path is well-maintained and you might get lucky enough to find free street parking near the park. If not, there are pay lots nearby.

  • 1601 Coast Boulevard, Del Mar
  • Hours: 7:00am to 10:00pm

5. Crest Canyon Open Space Park Preserve Trails

The two main trails that run through Crest Canyon are part of the San Dieguito River Park trail system and can be accessed from three trailheads. They connect at the end forming a loop that is just over two miles long and can be enjoyed by just about any walker or hiker looking for a short, family-friendly trail with nice scenery. Free street parking can be found near the trailheads. If possible, stop by in spring for a wonderful display of wildflowers.

  • Race Track View Drive (north trailhead), Durango Drive and Lozana Road (east trailhead), Crest Road and Hoska Drive (west trailhead), Del Mar
  • Hours: Day Use Only

SOLANA BEACH

6. Coastal Rail Trail

The Coastal Rail Trail will eventually run from Oceanside to downtown San Diego and currently has completed segments in Solana Beach, Carlsbad and Oceanside. The 1.7-mile stretch in Solana Beach is a paved, well-maintained pathway with landscaped borders and lots of art installations. Ideal for a leisurely stroll or your morning jog, be aware that this path is shared with bicycles. This kid-friendly walking path set in a park is also a perfect choice for parents or caregivers who want to grab a coffee and take the stroller to meet up with friends for some fresh air.

  • Linear Park on Highway 101, Solana Beach
  • Hours: Open Daily

7. Fletcher Cove Beach Park Walking Path

Visitors to Fletcher Cove Beach Park will find plenty of parking options in the adjacent parking lot, as well as on the street. The park, which has a waterfront viewing deck and overlooks the ocean, has a wide, paved, well-maintained path that is great for walking, jogging or running. Leashed dogs are welcome, the easy path is great for walking with kids, and you can even venture down to the beach if you want to take your morning jog or evening stroll to the sand.

  • 111 South Sierra Avenue, Solana Beach
  • Hours: 6:00am to 10:00pm

ENCINITAS (including trails maintained by City of Encinitas in Leucadia and Cardiff-by-the-Sea)

8. San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve

This 979-acre reserve is home to seven miles of trails popular with walkers, hikers, horseback riders, runners and birdwatchers. One of the easiest ways to wander through the wetlands and view some of the more than 1,000 species of flora and fauna is the Nature Center Loop Trail, which is an easy, one-mile loop that is wheelchair accessible.

Leashed dogs are welcome on all of the trails, but horses are only permitted on the trails that are east of Interstate 5 (Dike, Santa Inez, Santa Carina, Santa Helena, La Orilla). Trails west of Interstate 5 that are for walkers, runners and leashed pups include Annie’s Canyon Trail, Harbaugh Seaside Trails, North Rios, Holmwood, Canyon and Solana Hills. Most trails here are easy and short, but you can combine some of them for a longer hike. Check the trail map for closures and to see which trail is best for you.

  • Trailhead locations vary and can be found on the trail map. Encinitas
  • Hours: Visitor Center is open 9:00am to 5:00pm

9. Cottonwood Creek Park Trail

Cottonwood Creek has a well-maintained, dirt path that runs through the park and along the seasonal creek with some foot bridges crossing the creek. This is a very easy, low-key walking or jogging path with a convenient parking lot and restrooms available in the park. Leashed dogs are welcome.

  • 95 North Vulcan Avenue, Encinitas
  • Park Hours: 5:00am to 10:00pm

10. Self Realization Fellowship Hermitage & Meditation Gardens

This one is definitely not for runners, joggers or folks looking for a strenuous hike. However, it is the perfect choice for anyone looking for a leisurely stroll through tranquil, beautiful gardens with plenty of benches and nooks where you can rest or meditate. While the hermitage is kid friendly, there will be people studying, praying and meditating in the gardens, so you may want to only bring older kids to help maintain the peaceful, quiet atmosphere for your fellow visitors.

  • 215 West K Street, Encinitas
  • Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 9:00am to 5:00pm, Sundays 11:00am to 5:00pm, Closed Mondays

11. Village Park Off-Leash Trail

Here is one trail where no one will give you a dirty look for letting your dog run free. This off-leash trail is not fully developed nor fully fenced, so you will want to bring pups that are under good voice control. The trail itself is easy and fun for just about everyone, but one entrance is a bit more difficult than the other. If you and your furry friend are okay with a little climb, you can reach the trail from the Mountain Vista Road entrance. For an easier entrance, just head to the southern end of the park and pick up the trail there. There is nearby street parking on Mountain Vista Road.

  • East of El Camino Real between Encinitas Boulevard and Mountain Vista Road, Encinitas
  • Hours: Open Daily

12. Manchester Preserve Trails

Manchester Preserve is a little gem nestled between residential neighborhoods and has 123 acres of open space. The main loop trail through the preserve is 2.02 miles, but there are also other trails you can take to lengthen your hike. There are a few steep spots on the main trail, but most of it is pretty easy. No bikes or horses are allowed on this one, but leashed dogs are welcome. There are houses on three sides of the preserve, so do not expect to feel like you have really escaped into nature, but it is a great option for folks who live in the area and are looking for a nice, nearby hike.

There is a dirt parking lot just before the intersection of Manchester Avenue and Trabert Ranch Road. The trails can be accessed from here, as well as from trailheads leading from the surrounding neighborhoods.

  • Manchester Avenue east of Interstate 5, Encinitas
  • Hours: Dawn to Dusk

13. Lone Jack Road Area Trails

There are about 15 miles of trails in the Lone Jack Road area where you will find walkers, joggers, bicyclists and equestrians all enjoying a bit of outdoor recreation. Leashed dogs are welcome and many of the trails are stroller friendly. Because there are several trails that can be accessed from many points, check the trail map to determine where best to park and enter the trail of your choice.

  • Trailhead locations vary and can be found on the trail map. Encinitas
  • Hours: Dawn to Dusk

14. Little Oaks Equestrian Park

Little Oaks is primarily a horse park with a focus on equestrian facilities, but it is also a great place to park and head out for some trail running or hiking from the recreational trailheads in the park. Connect with some of the other trails in the Lone Jack Road area trail system (listed above) to expand your workout.

  • 2879 Lone Jack Road, Encinitas
  • Hours: 5:00am to 10:00pm

15. Encinitas Ranch Trails/Las Verdes Park

There is a total of almost 9.5 miles of trails in the Encinitas Ranch area, but the most popular is probably the Encinitas Ranch Golf Course Loop, which is a little over a mile and has great views of the golf course and surrounding area. This one is best for walkers, joggers and runners who want some nice scenery close to home while getting a little fresh air. Leashed dogs are allowed on the loop and the other trails in Encinitas Ranch. When exploring trails in this area, be sure to keep an eye out for equestrians and bicyclists.

If you want to do the loop, there is a parking lot at the golf course with a trailhead. You can also park at Las Verdes Park off Quail Gardens Drive to access the trailhead across the street from the lot. Some of the other trails will require street parking.

Folks looking for a stroller-friendly, paved walking path can also simply stay at Las Verdes Park for an easy walk or jog.

  • Las Verdes Park: 1390 Paseo De Las Verdes, Encinitas
  • Trailhead locations vary and can be found on the trail map. Encinitas
  • Park Hours: 5:00am to 10:00pm
  • Trail Hours: Dawn to Dusk

16. Rancho Santa Fe Road Area Trails

The Rancho Santa Fe Road area trails are maintained by the City of Encinitas and offer just over 6.5 miles of hiking, walking, biking and riding trails. Most of the trails are relatively short, but you can put together a longer walk or run by combining them. Leashed dogs are welcome and free street parking should be easy to find.

  • Trailhead locations vary and can be found on the trail map. Encinitas
  • Hours: Dawn to Dusk

17. Indian Head Canyon Trails

The Indian Head Canyon open space area has approximately 6.38 miles of trails south of Batiquitos Lagoon that range from easy, smooth surfaces to steep hills that will get your heart pumping. The most popular among the trails here is the main loop that can be accessed from Quail Hollow Drive between Leucadia Boulevard and Saxony Road. Check the kiosk at the main trailhead for trail conditions and other pertinent information. Leashed dogs are welcome to come hike here with you and be aware that bicycles are also allowed on these trails.

  • Trailhead locations vary and can be found on the trail map. Encinitas
  • Hours: Dawn to Dusk

18. Swami’s Beach to Cardiff Kook

The popular path between Swami’s Beach and the Cardiff Kook outside of the San Elijo State Beach campground is frequented by walkers, joggers, runners and folks accompanied by their leashed dogs. This is one of many North County walking paths that are paved and well maintained and, while this one does run alongside Highway 101, there is enough separation to feel comfortable walking or jogging it with your family or dogs. A big bonus on this one is that you have great ocean views all along the way and you can hang out at Swami’s beach or park after you finish the almost-2.5-mile trek.

  • K Street at Swami’s Beach, Encinitas
  • Hours: Open Daily

19. Orpheus Park Walking Path

Orpheus Park overlooks the ocean and has an easy, paved walking path that wraps around and through the park. This is a kid-friendly and dog-friendly option that even has off-leash hours, so be sure to bring along your pup. Just keep in mind that the park is not fenced, so if you bring your dog with you to go walking or jogging, be sure he or she is under good voice control.

  • 482 Orpheus Avenue, Encinitas
  • Hours: 5:00am to 10:00pm (check posted hours for off-leash hours)

20. Glen Park Walking Path

This is another walking, jogging and running option that has paths winding through a well-maintained park with a parking lot, bathrooms and plenty of places to take a break. The walking paths are wide and paved, so this one is also good for strollers. As an added bonus, there are some small hills to help get your heart pumping if you are looking to burn a few calories. If you or someone in your family has chemical sensitivities that keep you from being able to go to most community parks, Glen Park might be a great opportunity to work around that. The park is part of the City of Encinitas Organically Managed Park Pilot Project, which is reason enough to visit.

  • 2149 Orinda Drive, Encinitas/Cardiff-by-the-Sea
  • Hours: 5:00am to 10:00pm

21. Wiro Park Trail

Wiro Park is a smaller, out-of-the-way option with a recreational trailhead that offers an easy, family-friendly hike in a peaceful setting. Leashed dogs are welcome here and, since it is a less-frequented spot, parking is usually no problem. Be aware that several of the parks in Encinitas do not have restroom facilities – and this is one of them – so be sure the little ones use the restroom before arriving.

  • 2232 El Camino Del Norte, Encinitas/Olivenhain
  • Hours: 5:00am to 10:00pm

22. Sun Vista Park Walking Path

For a super-easy, wide, paved walking path that works for strollers and children accompanying you on their tricycle, the walking path that wraps around Sun Vista Park is perfect. While a single loop will get you almost to a half-mile jog or walk, you can make some laps if burning calories is on the agenda. Otherwise, this is one where you can simply take your time and enjoy a family stroll. Leashed dogs are welcome to join you here, and the eastern section of the park has designated off-leash hours if you want to combine your walk or jog with a puppy play date.

  • 2011 Avenida La Posta, Encinitas
  • Hours: 5:00am to 10:00pm

23. Leo Mullen Sports Park Trail

The hike that starts from Leo Mullen Sports Park is just under 1.5 miles round trip, but it might be a bit too difficult to bring along the little ones. Although it is a relatively short hike, you do get to see some nice scenery and there is enough of an uphill climb to get in a workout. It intersects with the Ridgeline Trail in the Encinitas Ranch trail system, so you can include that in your hike or trail run if you are looking for a longer route.

  • 951 Via Cantebria, Encinitas
  • Hours: 8:00am to Sunset

CARLSBAD

24. Lake Calavera Preserve Trails

The Lake Loop Trail is 1.9 miles, Oak Riparian Loop Trail is 1.4 miles, East Loop Trail is .9 mile, Monkey Flower Trail is .9 mile and the Serpentine Trail is .7 mile. The Lake Loop Trail is the longest, most popular and has the most view points where you can take a break and appreciate the scenery. You can also take the long way by combining multiple connecting trails to get in a moderate-level loop for walking or trail running that is about 4.9 miles.

You can bring along your dog for this one, just be sure to also bring water and waste bags if you plan on doing one of the longer hikes. Also keep in mind that this trail system is very popular with mountain bikers, so expect to see bikes while hiking.

  • Tamarack Avenue and Strata Drive, Carlsbad (see map for additional trailheads)
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

25. Calavera Hills Village H North Trail

At just under one-half mile, this trail may be on the shorter side, but it is rated moderate to difficult, which means you can still get a nice workout in a small amount of time. Its close proximity to Hope Elementary School also means that parents can fit in a bit of trail running or a brisk walk to burn some calories after dropping the kids off or before picking them up from school. The trail meanders through a nice Eucalyptus Grove, which adds to the appeal for folks looking for a short trail to check out. The easiest street parking is on Victoria Lane near the intersection of Carlsbad Village Drive. Look for the kiosk at the trailhead to know that you are in the right place.

  • 500 feet north of intersection of Carlsbad Village Drive and Victoria Lane, Carlsbad
  • Hours: Open Daily

26. Sea Wall Trail

Sea Wall Trail is an easy, paved, wheelchair-friendly, one-mile trail that runs along the beach. Leashed dogs are allowed on the parts of the trail that run along Carlsbad Boulevard, but not in other areas, so you might want to leave your pal home for this one if you want to do much exploring. The easiest way to access the trail, particularly if using a wheelchair, is at the south end, which is by the restrooms at Tamarack State Beach. You can also park at Tamarack State Beach for this one, or there is street parking available on Carlsbad Boulevard between Pine Avenue and Tamarack Avenue.

  • Carlsbad Boulevard and Tamarack Avenue, Carlsbad
  • Hours: 5:00am to 10:00pm

27. Villagio – Arroyo Vista Trails

While these are just two short segments that will one day be part of a continuous trail system, they are worth mentioning here, because they are easy and wheelchair accessible, making them a valuable part of the North County trail system overall. Each of these trails is roughly one-half mile, but you can combine them if you are interested in getting in a longer walk or run.

The trailhead for the Villagio Trail is located at the intersection of Rancho Santa Fe Road and Las Olas Court, and the trailhead for the Arroyo Vista Trail is north of the intersection of Rancho Santa Fe Road and Calle Acervo. Street parking for both trails is available on Las Olas Court.

  • Rancho Santa Fe Road and Las Olas Court, Carlsbad
  • Hours: Open Daily

28. Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation/Batiquitos Lagoon Trail

This easy trail with a few offshoots is a great choice for walkers, joggers and those who prefer running on trails, rather than sidewalks. You get to enjoy views of the lagoon as you walk and can bring your leashed dog along. Most of the trail is wheelchair- and stroller-friendly, and there are several parking areas with access to the trail. The trailheads at Aviara Cove, East End and Bella Lago have steep hills, but other access points are easy.

The westernmost trailhead is at Reeve Road and Stern Way, and has street parking on Stern Way. There are parking lots for trailheads at the nature center, on Pelican Street at the Bella Lago neighborhood, at Aviara Cove, Aviara Golf Club and on Batiquitos Drive east of the golf course. Use this trail map to plan your visit.

  • Nature Center located at 7380 Gabbiano Lane, Carlsbad
  • Nature Center Hours: Monday to Friday 9:00am to 3:00pm, Saturday to Sunday 9:00am to 3:00pm
  • Trail Hours: Open Daily

29. The Agua Hedionda Lagoon Discovery Center Trails

Agua Hedionda Lagoon is home to five short hiking trails, the longest of which comes it at approximately one mile. All of the trails meander through the wetlands and are great for a nature walk experience (complete with an interactive app), but you can also use them for short runs or jogging. The plan is to eventually connect some of the trails to form a longer loop but, for now, you can enjoy each trail and maybe hit them all up in one day for a bit more exercise.

The trailhead for the one-half mile Hubbs Trail is located at the end of Garfield Road. The one-mile Kelly School Trail can be accessed across the street from Kelly School where Kelly Drive ends at Park Drive. The one-quarter mile Discovery Center Trail can be accessed from the parking lot at the Discovery Center. The one-quarter mile Cove Drive Trail trailhead is right next to the Lagoon Foundation sign on Cove Drive. The one-quarter mile Bayshore Drive Trail trailhead is next to the Lagoon Foundation sign on Bayshore Drive.

  • Discovery Center is located at 1580 Cannon Road, Carlsbad
  • Trailhead locations vary
  • Discovery Center Hours: Monday to Saturday 7:00am to 4:00pm, Sunday 12:00pm to 4:00pm
  • Trail Hours: Open Daily

30. Rancho La Costa Preserve Trails

The preserve is home to four main trails: the Bob Cat Trail, Denk Tank Mountain, Old Santa Fe Road Trail and Ridgeline Trail. The Bob Cat Trail offers an easy, one-mile round trip that is accessed from Cadencia Park. The trails of Denk Tank Mountain are popular with mountain bikers due to their rugged terrain. If you do not mind getting out of the way when bicyclists are coming down the trails, it is worth the steep, narrow hike to reach to highest point in Carlsbad and enjoy the views. The Denk Tank Mountain trails are located to the east of Rancho Santa Fe Road.

The Old Santa Fe Road Trail is the easiest of the trails in Rancho La Costa Preserve and offers a one-mile, partially paved trail for walking, jogging and running. Find Fire Station 6 on Rancho Santa Fe Road to access this trail from the northern end.

The Ridgeline Trail in Rancho La Costa Preserve is one of the most difficult trails in Carlsbad, so if you are up for a challenge, this is the one for you. Steep and rocky at times, this trail offers both a three-mile, out-and-back trail and a four-mile, out-and-back trail, depending on where you start. Parking for this trail on El Fuerte Street, and the trailhead is next to La Costa Meadows Elementary School at the SDG&E access gate.

  • Trailhead locations vary and can be found on the trail map. Carlsbad
  • Hours: Open Daily

31. Carlsbad Oaks North Business Park Trail

Don’t let the name fool you into thinking you can grab a leisurely stroll on your lunch break here. The Carlsbad Oaks North Business Park might only be about 1.3 miles long, but parts are steep, it is not paved and it is rated as moderate to difficult. Flora and fauna are plentiful here, which includes poison oak. So if you are considering trying this one out for your next trail run, keep this in mind. Look for the small park at the corner of Faraday Avenue and El Fuerte Street to find the parking area for this trailhead. Once parked, look for the kiosk for a trail map and information.

  • El Fuerte Street (about 100 yards south of the block house pump station), Carlsbad
  • Hours: Open Daily

32. Hosp Grove Park Trails

Hosp Grove is a 53-acre park with approximately three miles of family-friendly trails that are not paved but are well maintained. Parts of the trails are okay for smaller children, but the system, overall, is rated moderate to difficult, so you may want to explore here on your own before bringing the little ones. There are two main trailheads: one on Jefferson Street and one on Monroe Street. Both trailheads have a parking lot.

  • 2240 Jefferson, Carlsbad
  • Hours: Open Daily

33. Aviara Open Space Trail System

Aviara is home to a six-mile trail system that includes Golf View Trail, Black Sage Trail, Salt Marsh Trail, Eucalyptus Trail and Lagoon Trail. The system is rated moderate to difficult, but some areas are easy enough for children and there is a trail running from Gabbiano Lane to the Batiquitos Lagoon Nature Center that is wheelchair accessible.

Golf View Trail, as you might expect, offers golf course views, as well as some steep climbs for hikers and trail runners looking for a challenge. The trailhead is accessed from Ambrosia Lane, and there is a parking lot at Aviara Oaks Elementary School. Black Sage Trail has trailheads on Aviara Parkway and Docena Road. The same parking lot is the best option for Salt Marsh Trail, which is located south of the school. The sometimes-steep Eucalyptus Trail is best accessed from the parking lot off of Batiquitos Drive and offers great views of the lagoon and ocean.

The 2.13-mile Lagoon Trail is the most popular trail in the Aviara system and is an easier trail that will appeal to a broader group of walkers, hikers and trail runners. Another appealing factor for hikers here is that this trail does not allow bicycles. There is parking at either end of Lagoon Trail near the nature center and on Batiquitos Drive near Hummingbird Lane. For folks looking for a longer, easy-to-moderate hike, a round-trip journey on Lagoon Trail will get you to almost 4.5 miles.

  • Batiquitos Drive, Aviara Parkway and Ambrosia Lane, Carlsbad
  • Hours: Open Daily

34. La Costa Canyon Park Trails

This small, 2.6-acre park is a good choice for folks looking for easy parking, restrooms and shorter trails where they can bring their kids or leashed dogs. Trailheads here connect to the citywide trail system and, as an added bonus, this one is a bit of hidden gem, so you rarely see crowds here.

  • Pueblo Street and Rana Court, Carlsbad
  • Hours: 8:00am to 10:00pm

35. Bressi Trail and Poinsettia Lane Trail

The Bressi Trail in Bressi Ranch is an easy, family-friendly trail that runs along El Fuerte Street and intersects with the longer trail running along Poinsettia Lane. Folks who live in Village of La Costa and Bressi Ranch use these easy trails as walking and jogging paths, for evening walks with their dogs, and for walking to the two parks and two schools in the neighborhood. A kiosk with trail information can be found at the corner of El Fuerte and Poinsettia Lane (where these two trails meet) and parking for these trails is shared with the Rancho Carrillo Trailhead by Carrillo Elementary School.

  • El Fuerte Road and Poinsettia Lane, Carlsbad
  • Hours: Open Daily

36. Rancho Carrillo Trail

Folks who live in Village of La Costa or Bressi Ranch can use the Poinsettia and Bressi Trails to access Rancho Carrillo Trail without a need to drive or find parking. Others will find a paved parking lot right next to the trailhead by Carrillo Elementary School. This easy-to-moderate trail can be enjoyed as one four-mile loop or can be broken up into two smaller loops by choosing the trail west of Melrose Drive or east of Melrose Drive. For folks looking for a longer hike or run, choose the loop east of Melrose Drive, which connects to the San Marcos trail system for even more miles of hiking fun. Dogs are allowed but must stay leashed on this family-friendly trail.

If you or someone in your hiking party uses a wheelchair, this is one of the longer trails you will find in Carlsbad that is wheelchair accessible.

This trail wraps around Leo Carrillo Historic Ranch Park, which also has a parking lot and restrooms, but may not be open when you want to visit.

  • Poinsettia Lane and Paseo Escuela, Carlsbad
  • Park Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 9:00am to 5:00pm, Sundays 11:am to 5:00pm, Closed Mondays
  • Trail Hours: Open Daily

37. Legoland Trail

This one is not going to cut it for trail runners or hardcore hikers, but if you want to grab some Starbucks and head out with your stroller for a fully paved, easy, one-mile round trip walk or jog, this one is for you. There is even a second path for bicycles, so you do not need to worry about getting out of the way when cyclists fly past. If the section between Legoland Drive and The Crossings Drive does not seem quite long enough, you can continue on a paved walking path on Armada Drive or the sidewalk on Cannon Road.

  • North of LEGOLAND between Legoland Drive and The Crossings Drive, Carlsbad
  • Hours: Open Daily

38. The Crossings Trail and Veteran Memorial Park Trails

While you can do The Crossings Trail and the trails in Veteran Memorial Park separately, it is a great experience to do them together and see a variety of scenery that ranges from a well-manicured golf course to large monuments in honor of our veterans. The best way to do this is to park in the westernmost part of the parking lot at The Crossings Golf Course clubhouse, which is where The Crossings Trail trailhead is located. When you get to the old golf cart bridge, take the pedestrian tunnel under Faraday Avenue to get to Veteran Memorial Park and head up the hill on more kid-friendly trails to see the monuments and some great views.

  • 5800 The Crossings Drive, Carlsbad
  • Hours: Open Daily

39. Coastal Rail Trail

The Coastal Rail Trail project is ongoing and likely will not be finished for several years, but there are some segments that can be enjoyed today, including a segment in Carlsbad. This is a paved, wheelchair accessible, kid-friendly path that runs for .7 mile between Tamarack Avenue and Oak Street. For this trail, park in the Carlsbad Village parking lot between Tamarack Avenue and Oak Street. Leashed dogs are allowed and this trail is very kid friendly, just keep in mind that it can get a bit crowded with skateboarders, bicyclists and more, particularly since it is right in the middle of the village.

  • Carlsbad Village between Tamarack Avenue and Oak Street, Carlsbad
  • Hours: Open Daily

40. La Costa Glen Trail

The La Costa Glen Trail runs from La Costa Avenue near Batiquitos Lagoon south to Leucadia Boulevard where it meets up with the Encinitas trail system. While this approximately 1.5-mile walking, hiking and running trail is not paved, it is wide, flat and wheelchair accessible. The easiest place to park for this trail is at The Forums at Carlsbad on Calle Barcelona. If you park in the northwesternmost part of the parking lot near Jimbo’s…Naturally!, you will see the trailhead next to the parking lot on the north side.

  • Parking lot at 1923 Calle Barcelona, Carlsbad
  • Hours: Open Daily

41. La Costa Valley Trail

This 1.30-mile loop trail is in a residential area but makes its way through an open space overlooking a wetlands area. It is an easy hike that is kid friendly, stroller friendly and great for walking or jogging with your leashed dog. To the west, you can connect to the La Costa Glen Trail if you are looking for more of a workout, but if you are just looking for a peaceful place to enjoy some flora and fauna while you walk or run, you may be just fine sticking to the La Costa Valley Trail. There is a parking lot at El Camino Elementary School, or you can find street parking on Paseo Aliso.

  • Paseo Aliso near El Camino Elementary School, Carlsbad
  • Hours: Open Daily

OCEANSIDE

42. San Luis Rey River Trail

The San Luis Rey River Trail is generally considered a bike path, but walkers, runners and folks on foot with their leashed dogs are welcome to use it as well. From the westernmost point at Neptune Way to the easternmost point around College Boulevard, this is a 7.2-mile trail, which makes it a 14.4-mile round trip. There are lots of great walking, jogging and hiking trails in North County San Diego, but this is one that you really must check out if only for the fact that it runs along the San Luis Rey River, offers a 14-mile round-trip trek, is a pretty easy trail and ends at the ocean.

There are parking lots and access points in several spots along the trail but the easiest way to enjoy the San Luis Rey River Trail is to start at one end or the other. At the western end, take advantage of street parking on Neptune Way, start at the 0.0 mile marker and head east. At the eastern end, park in the parking lot at Highway 76 and North Santa Fe Avenue, check out the kiosk for trail information and head towards the beach.

Alternatively, if this will be a family outing, you might want to start at Mance Buchanan Park where there is a parking lot, restrooms, picnic tables and a walking path around the park that you can use to warm up before heading towards the ocean.

  • Trailhead locations vary and can be found on the trail map. Oceanside
  • Hours: Open Daily

43. Buddy Todd Park Walking Path

This super-easy, completely kid-friendly walking and jogging trail is wide, fully paved and meanders through the park. There is a convenient parking lot, restrooms and plenty of shady spots to rest if you or your little ones get tired while doing a few laps around the park. Leashed dogs are welcome, which also makes this a great place to go for a morning run or evening stroll with your best pal.

  • 2800 Mesa Drive, Oceanside
  • Hours: 6:00am to 9:00pm

44. Guajome Regional Park Trails

The day-use area at Guajome Regional Park has 4.5 miles of mostly family-friendly hiking trails that let you explore a variety of habitats, including wetlands, grasslands, chaparral and woodlands. You can even bring your leashed dog to explore with you. On-site park rangers make this a safer place for folks hiking alone, while two ponds, picnic areas, and chance to feed ducks and geese make this a great spot for an all-day family outing that includes hiking and other activities. There is a $3.00 parking fee for the day-use area and be aware that you might run into mountain bikers on the trails.

  • 3000 Guajome Lake Road, Oceanside
  • Day-Use Hours: 9:30am to Sunset

45. El Corazon Park Trails

El Corazon Park is home to two trails for walking, jogging and running. Bikes and horses are not allowed on either the Garrison Creek Trail or The View Trail, which is sure to appeal to folks who like to get in a nature walk or some trail running without worrying about sharing the trail with bicyclists and equestrians.

The Garrison Creek Trail is a one-mile, unpaved nature trail that meanders through riparian and coastal sage scrub habitats near Garrison Creek. This trail, which is at the western end of the park is most easily accessed from the parking lot off Oceanside Boulevard just east of El Camino Real (where you turn to go to the El Corazon Compost Facility). You will find the parking lot for the trail on the left after turning in here.

The .5-mile View Trail is located at the opposite end of the park and is an easy trail with great views. To access this shorter trail, use the Senior Center Drive entrance to El Corazon Park and go behind the senior center to find the trailhead.

  • 3302 Senior Center Drive, Oceanside
  • Trail Hours: Monday to Friday 7:30am to 5:00pm, Saturdays 8:00am to 4:00pm, Close Sundays

46. Oak Riparian Park Walking Path

This small park has a nice, paved loop walking and running path that circles the park and is perfect for a quick stroll or doing a few laps to really burn some calories. The park also has restrooms, a parking lot and a connection to the Lake Calavera Trail System, which makes this a great place for staging for longer hikes around Lake Calavera.

  • 4625 Lake Boulevard, Oceanside
  • Hours: 6:00am to 9:00pm

47. Lake Park Walking Path

Lake Park is best known for its baseball and softball fields, but this community park also has a long, paved walking trail that loops around the border of the fields. It is a longer loop than those found at most North County parks and is definitely worth checking out if you are looking for somewhere to walk, jog or run with a stroller, with your kids or just on a smooth, solid surface.

  • 4950 Lake Boulevard, Oceanside
  • Hours: Open Daily

48. Coastal Rail Trail

The Coastal Rail Trail that will eventually be about 44 miles long and run between Oceanside and downtown San Diego will likely not be completed for several years. However, there are two completed sections in Oceanside that you can enjoy right now. These well-maintained and separated from vehicle traffic trail segments run from the downtown Oceanside Transit Center to Oceanside Boulevard and from Cassidy Street to Vista Way. Each segment is flat, paved, wide and easy to access with a stroller or wheelchair. While you will be sharing the path with bicycles – and probably skateboards and in-line skaters – these easy, smooth trails are great for walking, jogging or running.

  • Along the railroad tracks between the transit center and Oceanside Boulevard and between Cassidy Street and Vista Way, Oceanside
  • Hours: Open Daily

walking running hiking trails in san diego north county Inland

(Rancho Bernardo to Escondido)

ESCONDIDO

49. San Dieguito River Park/Coast to Crest Trail/Lake Hodges

San Dieguito River Park is huge, so only some of the trails are actually located in Escondido as part of the park’s efforts to create a 55-mile network reaching from the coast to Volcan Mountain. Some of the most popular trails in this network that are in the Escondido area are around Lake Hodges.

There are plenty of easy trails around the lake for walking, jogging, hiking or running, as well as the David Kreitzer Lake Hodges Bicycle Pedestrian Bridge, which is a very cool, 990-foot stress-ribbon bridge that crosses the lake.

Not be missed is the 7.2-mile (round trip) Bernardo Mountain Summit Trail, which offers a great hike and some fantastic views of Lake Hodges, Del Dios Gorge and the surrounding areas. Most of the trails in this system are pretty popular with hikers, but a few of the most popular in this area include the 2.27-mile Del Dios Gorge, the 7.65-mile North Shore Lake Hodges Trail, the 3.60-mile Clevenger Canyon South Trail, the two-mile Clevenger North Trail, the 1.6-mile Bernardo Bay loop trail, the 6.4-mile Mule Hill Trail, and the easy, 2.2-mile, interpretive Piedras Pintadas Trail, which even has a seasonal waterfall.

Leashed dogs are allowed on most of the trails, and some trails have interpretive markers. Check out the San Dieguito River Park website for trailhead locations, trail maps and to help determine which trails are best for your fitness level.

  • Trailhead locations vary and can be found on the trail map, Escondido
  • Hours: Open Daily

50. Highland Valley Trail

Highland Valley Trail, which runs along Highland Valley Road much of the time, is part of the San Dieguito River Park trail system; however, it is not part of the main Coast to Crest Trail and is worth noting separately here. As an offshoot from the main trail system, this one allows the opportunity to enjoy views of the San Pasqual Valley, but you cannot see the San Dieguito River from the trail.

Overall, the Highland Valley Trail is just over four miles out and back and is an easy, kid-friendly trail where you can bring your leashed dogs and will likely see folks on horseback. The reason it is worth talking about separately from the San Dieguito River Park trail system as a whole is that this is a particularly family-friendly option with a segment that is an educational interpretive trail. Named the Ruth Merrill Children’s Interpretive Walk, this 1.5-mile (out and back) trail is dotted with numbered trail markers that correspond with a trail guide you can get at the kiosk at the trailhead or print out at home.

  • Highland Valley Road (east of intersection with Pomerado Road), Escondido
  • Hours: Open Daily

51. Daley Ranch Trails

Escondido is filled with historic sites, and here is another one that has been preserved for both education and recreation. With more than 20 miles of trails for use by hikers, bikers and horseback riders, this is a great place for folks of any fitness level. There are six primary trails that wind their way through oak groves, grasslands and boulders, including the 2.5-mile Ranch House Loop, the 1.7-mile Caballo Trail, the 3.27-mile Jack Creek Meadow Loop and the 2.4-mile Boulder Loop Trail.

If you are looking for a bit more challenge, start at the Caballo Trailhead by the Escondido Humane Society parking lot, then take the Caballo Trail to the Sage Trail. From the Sage Trail, take the Stanley Peak Trailhead for a good climb to Stanley Peak.

For trailhead information and maps of the many trails within Daley Ranch, visit the Daley Ranch Trails Web page.

There is plenty of parking, a printed trail map is available at the park and leashed dogs are welcome.

  • 3024 La Honda Drive, Escondido
  • Hours: Dawn to Dusk

52. Dixon Lake Trail

Dixon Lake is part of Daley Ranch and is primarily known for the fishing, but there is also a 2.4-mile trail that offers an easy walk along the shore and is good for folks of all fitness levels, including families with children.

No dogs are allowed at the lake, and there is an entry fee that is currently $5.00 per vehicle; however, seniors over 60 can get in for free.

  • Address: 1700 North La Honda Drive, Escondido
  • Open: 6:00am to Dusk

53. Rod McLeod Park Walking Path

This smaller park is not well known among diehard runners, but those looking for a low-impact workout that is close to home and offers great views of downtown Escondido will find the loop around this park the perfect place to meet up with friends for an evening stroll.

Dogs are not allowed in the park, but if you plan to just walk or jog on the streets near the park, your pooch could tag along.

  • 1701 South Iris Lane, Escondido
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

54. Felicita County Park Trails

The land that is now Felicita Park was once home to one of the oldest Native American villages in San Diego, evidence of which can still be seen throughout the park. With more than 50 acres of oak groves, a nature trail and various hiking trails, this park is great for short family hikes, as well as working up a good sweat.

Leashed dogs are allowed, and there is a $3.00 parking fee if you park inside the park.

  • 742 Clarence Lane, Escondido
  • Hours: 9:30am to Sunset (Closed Christmas Day)

55. Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve

If you are looking for beautiful scenery and great views, you will love hiking one of the many trails in the Elfin Forest. Some of the 11 miles of trails are family friendly, and some have steep inclines, so there is something here for just about every fitness level.

If you are looking to burn some serious calories, take the Way Up Trail, which will reward you with great views at the top. More serious hikers can also trek all the way to Lake Hodges. Families looking to learn more about the area’s plant life will enjoy the Botanical Trail, which has many vegetation markers.

There is a parking lot, but this is a popular North County hiking spot, so it tends to fill up early. Street parking is also available.

  • 8833 Harmony Grove Road, Escondido
  • Hours: 8:00am to about 30 minutes before sunset (Closed Christmas Day and Rainy Days)

56. Kit Carson Park

This historic site offers 100 acres of developed park land as well as 185 acres of preserved natural habitat, making this park the perfect place to enjoy nature in the midst of city living. Take a casual stroll through the Iris Sankey Arboretum, walk around one of the park’s three lakes, enjoy a variety of unpaved walking paths, or jog the loop that surrounds the park for a bigger workout.

Click here for a map of the park and trails.

  • 3333 Bear Valley Parkway, Escondido
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

57. Del Dios Highlands County Preserve

The 774-acre Del Dios Highlands County Preserve is part of the County of San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Program and is a great place to really feel like you are communing with nature while hiking or trail running. There is a 1.5-mile multi-use trail that is open to hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians, as well as a QR Fit exercise trail for folks looking for an all-around, outdoor workout. The added bonuses on this one are the chance to see birds of prey, other wildlife and great views of Lake Hodges and, sometimes, the ocean.

  • 9860 Del Dios Highway, Escondido
  • Pedestrian Access Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Vehicle Access Hours: 8:00am to Sunset

58. Lake Wohlford Trails

Lake Wohlford is, first and foremost, a fishing lake. If you happen to visit the website, you will see this immediately with all of the information about fishing reports and boat rentals but not a single word about hiking. Since hiking is not the main focus, visitors might notice that trails sometimes get a bit overgrown, but it also means that you often get the trail all to yourself or, at least, mostly to yourself. Plus, trails that look a bit rugged might just add to the adventure. Some of the things that make this a nice spot to spend the day are parking, bathrooms, birdwatching and mostly easy, family-friendly trails. You will see plenty of waterfowl here and, if you are lucky, you might even spot a bald eagle.

Keep in mind that dogs are not allowed in this park and you do need to keep an eye out for rattlesnakes. Trails here include Lake Wohlford Trail, Oakvale Trail, Osprey Trail, Egret Trail and Kumeyaay Trail. The trailheads are easily accessed from convenient parking areas. Here is a map you can print out to help plan your visit. It is actually a fishing map, but it does show the trails and trailheads.

  • 25453 Lake Wohlford Road, Escondido
  • Mid-December to Weekend After Labor Day Hours: Daily, 6:00am to Dusk
  • Weekend After Labor Day to Mid-December Hours: Saturdays and Sundays, 6:00am to Dusk

59. Escondido Creek Trail

Escondido Creek is currently about six miles of fully paved trail running through downtown Escondido. The path is mostly used by bicyclists, but it does offer a smooth, well-maintained trail for jogging or running. You can enjoy this paved path now, but it is definitely one to keep an eye on for future developments. Plans for the trail include community gardens, lighting, and other improvements to create a 100-acre linear park.

  • Broadway (Near Grape Day Park), Escondido
  • Hours: Open Daily

60. Grape Day Park

If you are looking for a nicely paved, easy, well-maintained path for walking and jogging in the downtown Escondido area, this one is a great choice. The path curves through the park and, if you incorporate the sidewalk on North Broadway, you can make a nice loop for doing laps or just getting back to your parking spot. Leashed dogs are allowed, so this is also a good spot to take your four-legged friends for their morning walk. Grape Day Park is also home to Heritage Walk, which is more of an educational stroll than a real calorie burner, but is definitely a way to make your walk more interesting.

  • 321 North Broadway, Escondido
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

61. The HeART of Escondido Self-Guided Walking Tour

There is perhaps no better way to combine a history lesson, public art and getting in some exercise in downtown Escondido than to partake in the HeART of Escondido Self-Guided Walking Tour. The first time you do it, print the tour map, give yourself some extra time, and take a leisurely stroll that allows you to check out the art installations, shops and cafés along the way. After that, you can make this easy route through downtown part of your regular walking or jogging routine. There are lots of parking options in the area, but the most convenient parking is at the Transit Center where the tour starts or in the lot at the corner or Valley Parkway and Maple Street where the tour ends.

  • Valley Parkway and Tulip Street (Starting Point), Escondido
  • Hours: Open Daily, Section in Grape Day Park Open Sunrise to Sunset

62. Grove Park Walking Paths

This is a well-maintained, smaller park with restrooms, a parking lot and picnic tables where you can catch your breath between laps. Curving, paved paths meander through the park and are perfect for doing laps or just getting in a quick jog on your lunch break. Dogs are not allowed on the paths or in the park.

  • 745 North Ash Street, Escondido
  • Hours: 7:00am to Sunset

63. Jesmond Dene Park Trails

The 35-acre Jesmond Dene Park does not have any official walking paths, but regulars know that outside of the 16 developed acres, there is lots of space that has been unofficially transformed by the public into walking paths, RC car tracks and dirt trails frequented by BMX enthusiasts. Although it might be tempting to bring your furry friends on these unofficial trails, no dogs are allowed in the park, so they have to stay home for this one.

The park has restrooms and a parking lot, which are nice bonuses. If it is Little League season, be sure to know the schedule. If there is a game going on and you are not there to watch some baseball, you will probably be better off finding somewhere else to walk so that you can avoid the crowds and be able to find a parking spot.

  • 2401 North Broadway, Escondido
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset (Lighted Ball Fields Open Later)

64. Westside Park Walking Path

You will probably never see Westside Park on any list of great places to walk, jog or run in North County. However, if you are a parent or caregiver with little ones, this just might become your favorite place to get in a little outdoor exercise while watching the kids. The paved walking paths here do not seem like much to look at, but they are two small, adjacent loops that, when viewed from above, form a spider’s body and head with paved legs jutting out from the larger loop. But it is not just the kid-friendly cuteness factor that makes this a good option for parents: These stroller-friendly and wheelchair-friendly loops encircle the play structures, which means you can walk, jog or run laps while never being far from your kids. The park also has restrooms and picnic tables, making this a great place to spend an afternoon with your family.

  • 333 South Spruce Street, Escondido
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

65. El Norte Park Walking Path

This nicely paved, easy walking path runs from one end of El Norte Park to the other (East El Norte Parkway to Stanly Way). While it is short, it is a super-convenient option for a quick walk in the morning or during your lunch break if you live in the area.

  • 1375 East El Norte Parkway, Escondido
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

FALLBROOK

70. Monserate Mountain Preserve Trail

Head out Interstate 15 to Stewart Canyon Road, find the convenient trailhead parking area just off the freeway, and get ready for a bit of an adventure. This partially paved, partially dirt trail starts off with an elevation of 380 feet at the trailhead, but ends at the summit of Monserate Peak with an elevation of 1,567 feet. The 1.5-mile trail is steep and challenging at times, but those who make it to the top enjoy some spectacular views. Leashed dogs are welcome, but make sure your best pal is fit for a strenuous hike – and don’t forget to bring water for both of you. Print a trail map before you go.

  • Stewart Canyon Road, Fallbrook
  • Hours: Dawn to Dusk

71. Rock Mountain Trail

This 1.5-mile loop trail in Rock Mountain Preserve offers beautiful scenery and views. Parts of the trail are easy, parts are moderate and – just before you get to the summit – you can expect to get your hands dirty as you scramble the rest of the way over some boulders. This one is actually a little ways north of Fallbrook but close enough to be counted among Fallbrook hiking trails.

  • Sandia Creek Road (north of Santa Margarita River), Fallbrook
  • Hours: Dawn to Dusk

72. Los Jilgueros Preserve Trail

The Los Jilgueros Preserve was the first acquired by the Fallbrook Land Conservancy and continues to be their most popular for walkers and joggers. A mix of paved paths, dirt trails and boardwalks make a series of loops that total about two miles of trail from which you can enjoy wetlands, birds and other wildlife as you exercise. This centrally located preserve is in town and has a parking lot, so it is also a good choice for folks looking for a convenient option for their daily jog or lunchtime walk. Check out the trail map before you go so that you have a better idea of which loops to include in your route.

  • South Mission Road (north of Fallbrook High School), Fallbrook
  • Hours: Open Daily

73. Hellers Bend Preserve Trail

The 48.5-acre Karen Tucker Preserve at Hellers Bend is generally simply referred to as Hellers Bend by locals and is another of the preserves managed by the Fallbrook Land Conservancy. The trail here starts with one-half mile of pavement through riparian habitat with lots of oaks. That is followed by an unpaved trail that meanders through coastal sage and rewards visitors for making the steep climb with great views, as well as beautiful scenery along the way. Leashed dogs are allowed in the preserve and on the trail. Keep in mind that any time you are hiking through riparian habitat, you will want to keep an eye out for poison oak.

  • Hellers Bend near South Mission Road off Highway 76, Fallbrook
  • Hours: Dawn to Dusk

74. Santa Margarita Preserve Trail

Santa Margarita is home to about two miles of trails that are open to hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers. As part of the Multiple Species Conservation Program, this preserve is a fantastic place for wildlife viewing and birdwatching, especially if you enjoy seeing raptors flying above as you hike. This is also a good one for wildflowers, so you might want to try out this trail for a good hike or trail running in the spring.

  • 37385 De Luz Road, Fallbrook
  • Pedestrian Access Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Vehicle Access Hours: 8:00am to 30 Minutes Before Sunset

75. Santa Margarita River Trail

The Santa Margarita River Trail is often confused with the Santa Margarita Preserve Trail, which is pretty easy to do with the similar names and their close proximity to each other. Plus, you can reach this trail from the Santa Margarita Preserve Trail, but it is generally recommended to just head straight to Sandia Creek Road and start from that trailhead, which also has a parking area.

The Santa Margarita Trail is about a 5.5-mile, out-and-back trail that is family friendly, leashed dog friendly and even has a swimming hole for cooling off on hot days. Horses are also allowed on the trail, so keep an eye out for manure.

  • Sandia Creek Drive (off De Luz Road), Fallbrook
  • Hours: Open Daily (Side Note: This parking lot is open later than the one at the preserve.)

76. Live Oak Park Walking & Jogging Path

Fallbrook has several nature preserves with great hiking trails, but if you are looking for more of a casual meander under a canopy of oak trees, Live Oak Park might be just what you are looking for. This centrally located park has a parking lot, restrooms and plenty of benches where you can rest or people watch during your walk. A big bonus for dog lovers is that your leashed pal can join you on your stroll, and then you can head over to the dog park for some leash-free fun. There is a $3.00 day-use fee per vehicle, or you can purchase an annual pass for $25.00.

  • 2746 Reche Road, Fallbrook
  • Hours: 8:00am to Sunset

PALOMAR MOUNTAIN

77. Palomar Mountain State Park Trails

There are lots of options when it comes to hiking and trail running in North County San Diego, but Palomar Mountain State Park offers an experience unlike those found elsewhere in this area. Most of the trails in North County lead you through coastal sage, chaparral, oak groves, wetlands and riparian habitat. While you will still find plenty of oak trees here, you will also find coniferous forests, which offers a hiking experience more akin to those found the Sierra Nevada range. This, alone, is reason enough for hikers and trail runners to visit the park, but it also offers much more, including campgrounds, Palomar Observatory, historic sites and amazing, panoramic views.

There are more than 11 miles of trails in the park that offer hiking experiences that range from an easy walk to a challenging, full-day hike. For example, you can park near Doane Pond and take a leisurely stroll on a loop trail before picnicking by the pond, or you can throw on your pack and combine several connecting trails for a rugged adventure exploring the mountain.

Trails within the park include Silvercrest Trail, Baptist Trail, Adams Trail, Lower Doane Trail, Upper Doane Valley Trail, Cedar Trail, Thunder Spring Trail, Weir Trail, French Valley Trail, Chimney Flats Trail, Boucher Trail and Scott’s Cabin Trail. The trails you choose will depend on the experience you are hoping to get. For example, Scott’s Cabin Trail, Weir Trail and Silvercrest Trail all lead to historic sites that will be of interest to history lovers. Or, for some family-friendly fun, you might be interested in the easy, one-mile Doane Valley Nature Trail where you can learn about native plants while you hike. To extend the hike, you can add on part of the Weir Trail to loop back around to the parking area.

The trailhead for Boucher Trail can be found near the Silvercrest parking lot and takes you up about three-quarters of a mile to the Boucher Summit area. Once you have arrived, you can check out the observation deck or explore the Boucher Hill Fire Tower, if it is open to the public at that time.

Or, you can explore Doane Valley and French Valley on some of the most beautiful and most popular hiking trails in the park.

Something else of note about this park is that the trails are only open to hikers. Horses, mountain bikes and dogs are not allowed on the trails. So hikers and trail runners who prefer having the trail to themselves and not jumping out of the way of mountain bikers or sidestepping around horse or dog waste are going to love it here.

Myer’s Fire Road, which has a trailhead at the Doane Valley Campground, is the only trail in the park where leashed dogs are allowed.

Be sure to print the Palomar Mountain State Park Trail Map to help you plant your trip. Also, if you do not have a state park pass, bring cash or your checkbook to cover the $10.00 per vehicle day-use fee.

  • 19952 State Park Drive, Palomar Mountain
  • Hours: Dawn to Dusk

78. Cleveland National Forest Trails (Palomar Mountain Area)

For the most part, the hiking trails in Cleveland National Forest are longer and more difficult than those found in Palomar Mountain State Park. Because of this, less experienced hikers and trail runners or those looking for family-friendly hikes are probably better off starting out in the state park and moving up to Cleveland National Forest. However, there are a few easy hikes in the national forest that everyone can enjoy.

The 4.4-mile round trip Observatory Trail is one of the easier – and most popular – hikes here and delivers you to the Palomar Observatory, so be sure to plan enough time for hiking in and out, as well as spending time at the observatory. You will find parking and the trailhead on South Grade Road at the Observatory Campground.

The 1.9-mile Oak Grove Trail is a more challenging option and is also among the most popular hikes in the area, primarily because you can connect with the Oak Grove Truck Trail to reach the High Point Fire Lookout. This tower is not open to the public, but is on one of the highest peaks in the county, so the views are amazing and there is plenty more to see once you reach the top. If you go from the Oak Grove trailhead all the way to High Point, that ends up being almost eight miles one way.

Other easy, family-friendly trails include the 1.7-mile Fry Creek Trail with a trailhead at the Fry Creek Campground and the .5-mile Inaja Trail with a firefighter memorial and picnic area. The 3.4-mile Barker Spur Trail offers a bit more of a challenge with a moderate rating, while the popular Cedar Creek Falls Trail leads you to an 80-foot waterfall.

For more experienced hikers looking for a more challenging, rugged adventure, there are the 6.7-mile Cutca Trail, the 6.8-mile Dripping Springs Trail, the 2.8-mile Palomar to Magee Trail, the 5.5-mile Three Sisters Falls Trail and the 10.1-mile Wild Horse Trail.

Be aware that horses and mountain bikers are allowed on some trails in Cleveland National Forest. If you do not have an Adventure Pass, expect to pay $5.00 per vehicle for day use. You can stop by a ranger station for information on specific trails or to purchase a map that shows all of the trails in the national forest.

  • Cleveland National Forest, Palomar Mountain
  • Hours: Open Daily

SAN MARCOS

79. Lakeview Park Trails/Discovery Lake Loop

There are about four miles of trails that can be accessed from Lakeview Park, which has a parking lot, restrooms and picnic tables. The most popular trail here is the Discovery Lake Loop, which is an easy, paved, .8-mile loop around Discovery Lake. This family-friendly trail is fine for strollers and wheelchairs and is great for walking, jogging or running.

Another multi-purpose trail to check out is Cima Drive Loop, which you can access just west of the parking lot at Lakeview Park.

  • 650 Fox Hill Drive, San Marcos
  • Hours: 6:00am to 8:00pm

80. Double Peak Park Trail

The family-friendly Double Peak Park Trail can be accessed from either Lakeview Park or Double Peak Park, which are at either end of the trail. The most popular starting point is at Lakeview Park, which allows you to enjoy views of Discovery Lake as you begin the approximately 4.5-mile trek to Double Peak Park. Once you reach the summit, take in the fantastic views while you take advantage of the benches and restrooms before heading back down to the lake. Leashed dogs are allowed and there are bathrooms and water fountains at both parks.

  • 650 Fox Hill Drive or 900 Double Peak Road, San Marcos
  • Hours: 6:00am to 8:00pm

81. Copper Creek Trail

Hikers and trail runners looking for a good workout surrounded by beautiful scenery in San Marcos will definitely want to check out Copper Creek Trail. While some parts of the hike are a bit more challenging, this is a family-friendly trail that is one of the few in the county that takes you to a waterfall. No dogs are allowed here, but you might be sharing the trail with mountain bikers.

  • Near the old solid waste facility on San Elijo Road, San Marcos
  • Hours: Dawn to Dusk

82. P Mountain Trail

Even if you have never hiked it, you will easily recognize P Mountain as a local landmark that cannot really be missed with the huge “P” (for Palomar) on it. There are a few trail options that will take you to the P and farther up to the summit. The most popular is basically a straight shot that is all incline and much loved by hikers and trail runners looking for a good workout. While it is steep, you will see parents with their kids here all the time, so it is kid friendly; however, if you are hiking with children, you will most likely want to take another route down to avoid going down the steep trail with little ones.

  • West Borden Road (but you may be able to park at Palomar College), San Marcos
  • Hours: Open Daily

83. Ridgeline Trailhead

This city-maintained trailhead has bathrooms, picnic shelters, water fountains and parking for both passenger vehicles and horse trailers. From here, you can access the Ridgeline Trail, Lakeview Trail and Double Peak Trail, which allows you to create a customized route for hiking, jogging or trail running.

  • 102 San Elijo Road, San Marcos
  • Hours: Dawn to Dusk

84. San Elijo Hills Trails

There are 12 walking and hiking trails that wind through the San Elijo Hills area of San Marcos, including the above-mentioned Double Peak Trail, Copper Creek Trail and Ridgeline Trail. Other trails in this system include the short Garden Trail off Questhaven Road, Discovery Trail, the two-mile stretch of paved and unpaved trail along San Elijo Road known as the San Elijo Road Trail, the one-mile Ocean View Trail, the .5-mile Canyon Trail, the .75-mile Lake San Marcos Trail with lake views, the .75-mile Quarry Trail that runs between the Cedar Crossing and Sagewood neighborhoods, the .5-mile Lake View Trail and the .5-mile Sunset Trail.

  • Trailhead locations vary in San Elijo Hills, San Marcos
  • Hours: Dawn to Dusk

85. Jack’s Pond Trail

The main trail leading to the end of the pond begins after the Jack’s Pond Nature Center, which is the smaller barn in the park. This short, easy trail is paved and is fine for both strollers and wheelchairs; however, you do have to leave the pavement and venture out on dirt trails to extend your walk to burn more calories or to get close to the edge of the pond. Jack’s Pond Park has parking, restrooms and picnic areas to make your visit more enjoyable. Keep in mind that entering the water at Jack’s Pond is not allowed. Leashed dogs are allowed, so this easy walk is great for the entire family, including the four-legged members.

  • 986 La Moree Road, San Marcos
  • Hours: Open Daily (Nature Center open Saturdays and Sundays, 10:00am to 1:00pm)

86. Hollandia Park Trails

The paved, well-maintained walking paths that curve through Hollandia Park are perfect for walking, jogging or running – even with a stroller or your leashed dog. This completely family-friendly option for getting a little outdoor exercise also has restrooms, parking and an off-leash dog park, which makes it kind of a perfect spot to spend an afternoon with the kids and dogs.

  • 12 Mission Hills Court, San Marcos
  • Hours: Sunrise to 10:00pm

87. Las Posas – Borden Trail

The Las Posas – Borden Trail is a neighborhood walking and running path that runs along Las Posas Road and Borden Road. Leashed dogs are welcome on this two-mile round trip trail, which makes this a great place to enjoy a park-side morning stroll with your furry friends or to get in an evening jog after work. Cerro de Las Posas Park is at the junction of North Las Posas Road and West Borden Road, so that is a good spot to meet up with friends before hitting the trail. For a longer walk or run, head for Palomar College’s back parking lot entrance on Borden Road and make it a three-mile loop. If you go this route, you can incorporate the arboretum and cactus garden into your walk. This handy San Marcos Parks & Trails Pocket Guide can help you plan your route.

  • Las Posas Road and Borden Road, San Marcos
  • Hours: Dawn to Dusk

88. Town Center Trail

This easy, paved walking path is just .75 mile round trip and you can get to it from the convenient parking at Town Center. That makes this the perfect choice for getting in a quick walk on your lunch break or before work. Starting from the parking structure, go to the grass area between the Community Center and the Civic Center, stay on the path until you hit Civic Center Drive, cross Rancheros Drive and stay on the path to Twin Oaks Valley Road. From here, head north and cross San Marcos Boulevard, and then follow the trail as it loops around towards the library. If this sounds a little confusing, print this pocket trail map before you head out to help keep you on track.

  • Twin Oaks Valley Road and Mission Road (Town Center), San Marcos
  • Hours: Dawn to Dusk

89. Twin Oaks Valley Trail

To reach the 1.7-mile Twin Oaks Valley Trail, park at Walnut Grove Park and find Williams Barn. Once there, you will find the trail just to the south. The trail ends a bit north of Borden Road, so you have the option of heading back at this point or you can extend your journey by making a loop. To do this, go east on La Cienega to Mulberry, then go north to Cox and head west. To help you plan your route, print this trail map to slip in your pocket.

  • 1950 Sycamore Drive, San Marcos
  • Hours: Dawn to Dusk

POWAY

90. Blue Sky Ecological Reserve

The main trail running through the 700-acre Blue Sky Ecological Reserve is the Green Valley Truck Trail, which is a wide, well-maintained path that you can take all the way from Blue Sky Ecological Reserve to Lake Ramona. Off of this trail, you can connect with Oak Grove Trail, which is a short offshoot, and the .25-mile Creekside Trail, which is a great addition if you are looking for a hiking or trail running loop. About a mile up the Green Valley Truck Trail, you will come to the Lake Poway Loop, which is another option for extending your hike or trail run. A bit farther down the trail, you will find a sign directing you to Lake Ramona. This direction takes you on the Blue Sky Trail, which is a beautiful trek through a canyon to a ridge where you will be rewarded with views of the lake and beyond.

The Green Valley Truck Trail can get a little crowded on weekends, since this is a mostly easy, family-friendly hike that offers great views from the dam and looking over the lake. There are some challenging spots, particularly heading up to Lake Ramona, so it might be best to test this hike out on your own before bringing your little ones or dogs that are not used to hiking. Alternatively, you can stay just on the Truck Trail for a nice 1.2-mile (one way) walk with your kids or dogs.

Horses and leashed dogs are allowed on the Green Valley Truck Trail, but they are not allowed on Creekside Trail or the Oak Grove Trail. There is a convenient parking area with a port-a-potty at the beginning of the trail when you first turn in off of Espola Road.

The trailheads are marked and you should easily find them, but print this trail map before you go, just in case you do not have reception on your phone once you are there.

  • 16275 Espola Road, Poway
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

91. Iron Mountain Trail (Main Trail)

The main Iron Mountain Trail is one of the most popular hikes in San Diego County and is often compared to hiking Cowles Mountain near La Mesa and Mt. Woodson, which is also in Poway. The 5.6-mile, out-and-back trail starts off pretty straightforward and is easy to moderate overall, but there are some steep areas with lots of rocks. The approach to the peak would be a serious incline, but lots of switchbacks keep it from getting too strenuous. You will see lots of families and folks with their dogs on this trail, especially on the weekends when the main parking lot, which holds more than 100 cars, is regularly overflowing with plenty of cars parked on the street near the trailhead.

While there are some trees along the way, there is not a lot of shade on this trail overall, so you will want to bring extra water and might want to consider early morning or late afternoon hikes and trail runs. Like pretty much all of the hikes in North County, you can expect great scenery and views, but this one is mostly known for being a solid hike – a hiker’s hike, if you will – and a great workout. Either on the way up or the way down, consider taking the alternate main trail that separates from and then rejoins the main trail. You can combine the main trail with one or more of the other trails on Iron Mountain for a full-day trek.

  • Highway 67 (just before Poway Road), Poway
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

92. Iron Mountain Trails (Ellie Lane, Wild Horse, Ramona Outlook)

The main Iron Mountain Trail is the most popular, most crowded and most direct route to Iron Mountain Peak. However, there are other trail options that are less-traveled and definitely worth checking out. The second-most popular trail on Iron Mountain is the Ellie Lane Trail, which has its own staging area a bit farther up Highway 67 from the main parking lot and Iron Mountain Trail trailhead. If you choose to take the main Ellie Lane Trail loop, which involves part of the main Iron Mountain Trail and Wild Horse Trail, and do the out-and-back to the summit, you will get in almost nine miles of hiking or trail running on a more challenging trek. This is one of the reasons you will not see as many people taking this route. If you just do the Ellie Lane Trail Loop without the out-and-back, you will get in about a six-mile hike or run.

Wild Horse Trail can be accessed from the main Iron Mountain Trail or from the Ellie Lane Trail and is mostly handy for connecting the Ellie Lane Trail and Iron Mountain Trail and expanding your hiking options. For example, Wild Horse Trail goes from one side of the loop to the other, effectively cutting it into unequal segments, which increases your options for choosing the length of your hike.

Also not to missed is the relatively short Ramona Overlook Trail, which is an offshoot of the Ellie Lane Trail and worth the hike to see the views.

  • Highway 67 (just before Poway Road) for main parking lot or Ellie Lane (after Poway Road) for Ellie Loop Staging Area, Poway
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

93. Goodan Ranch Sycamore Canyon Preserve Trails

There are about 10 miles of hiking, mountain biking and riding trails in the 2,272-acre Sycamore Canyon Preserve, which includes the 325-acre Goodan Ranch. With riparian, woodland, chaparral, coastal sage and grassland, you can experience much of the same scenery found at nearby Iron Mountain but generally with fewer people for a more tranquil hike. There are two staging areas in the preserve: the Goodan Ranch Staging Area off Sycamore Canyon Road and the Highway 67 Staging Area off Highway 67. There is a port-a-potty at the Goodan Ranch Staging Area, so if you are hiking with children or plan to be out for a while, that might be a reason to start here.

Trails here include West Boundary Trail, Ridge Trail, Slaughterhouse Canyon Trail, Martha’s Grove Trail and Cardiac Hill. Martha’s Grove Trail, which has a trailhead at the Goodan Ranch Staging Area offers a nice hike leading through the Martha Harville Memorial Grove, which has a picnic table, benches and a sign with info about Martha Harville, who was a park ranger. The grove is a great place to rest a bit before heading out for more hiking or trail running. From the Martha Grove Trail, you can head east for Cardiac Hill, which is all uphill for about one mile with steeper sections at the beginning and end, or you can head west into the Goodan Ranch section to check out the Historic Farm Equipment Interpretive Site and take a break at the Old Ranch House Site, which has the remains of the Goodan house and a visitors center with restrooms and water.

Leashed dogs are allowed here, so you can bring your four-legged friends along for an easy hike or a little trail running up Cardiac Hill. Print this handy park brochure to bring with you to have quick access to a trail map and park info.

  • 16281 Sycamore Canyon Road (Goodan Ranch Staging Area), Poway
  • Pedestrian Access Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Vehicle Access Hours: April through September, 8:00am to 7:00pm

October through March, 8:00am to 5:00pm

  • 13920 Highway 67 (Highway 67 Staging Area), North of Lakeside
  • Pedestrian Access Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Vehicle Access Hours: 8:00am to 5:00pm

94. West Sycamore – Mission Trails Regional Park Trail System

West Sycamore, which will someday be connected to the main Mission Trails Regional Park, is an 1,100-acre preserve with seven miles of hiking, riding and mountain biking trails. The main entrance and staging area are on Stonebridge Parkway in Scripps Ranch, but it is included here with other Poway hiking trails because some of the trails here connect to trails in Goodan Ranch Sycamore Canyon Preserve, and you can park at this staging area or the Goodan Ranch Staging Area to access these trails. Leashed dogs are allowed in both West Sycamore and Goodan Ranch, so you do not have to worry about confusing the trails and ending up in the other park if you bring along your furry pals.

To help plan your trip, print this trail map that shows the trails in West Sycamore and how they connect to some in Goodan Ranch.

  • 17160 Stonebridge Parkway, Scripps Ranch
  • Pedestrian Access Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Vehicle Access Hours: November 1 through March 11, 8:00am to 5:00pm

March 12 through October 31, 8:00am to 7:00pm

95. Mount Woodson Trails

The Mount Woodson Trail – West Approach is about eight miles round trip and starts off from a staging area on the east side of Lake Poway. There is a parking lot, concession stand and restrooms at the lake. This is one of the most popular hikes in San Diego County, particularly because this is the trail that leads to the well-known Potato Chip Rock, so expect to pass folks on your way to the summit and on the return trip. Leashed dogs are allowed and you will definitely see families on the trail, but there is basically no shade along the route and it is a strenuous climb, so you might want to start early in the day if you are bringing dogs or little ones. You will also need to bring plenty of water for the two-legged and four-legged members of your party.

The trail starts off fairly easy with a gradual incline, but after the first stretch around the lake, the incline increases and it gets more difficult, which makes this a good choice for trail runners and folks looking for a strenuous workout. You will reach Potato Chip Rock before you reach the summit, so this is a good excuse to catch your breath while taking photos. If you want a photo standing on top or Potato Chip Rock, expect to wait in line. You can also get in some bouldering as you approach the summit. Once you reach the top, look beyond the antennas that unfortunately take away from the skyline and focus on the amazing views that make the climb completely worth it.

There is also a second option for reaching the summit of Mount Woodson that cuts your hiking time in about half and generally has less traffic. The Mount Woodson Trail – East Approach trailhead is near the Cal Fire Station on Highway 67 and parking is available in a pullout area on the side of the highway. The trail starts out as dirt, but you will soon meet up with a paved access road that leads to the summit. You might occasionally see a vehicle heading up the mountain to the antennas at the top, but you will mostly see hikers, trail runners and mountain bikers. Because this is also an access road, the trail is wide and well maintained, but it is fairly steep, so expect a good workout. To make this an approximately 5.5-mile loop, you can go over the summit and descend on the West Approach trail until it meets up with the Fry-Koegel Trail, then hop on the Fry-Koegel Trail, which eventually goes past the Mount Woodson Golf Club and takes you back to Highway 67 to return to your parking spot.

Bring along this handy trail map and trail guide to help you stay on track.

  • West Approach – 14644 Lake Poway Road, Poway
  • East Approach – Near 16310 Highway 67, Ramona
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

96. Lake Poway Trail System

Aside from the above-mentioned Mt. Woodson Trail and the much shorter Sumac Trail that loops from the lake to Old Canyon Road and back, most of the trails around Lake Poway do not have official names. There is the 3.2-mile Lake Poway Loop Trail that has a couple of steep parts but is mostly an easy hike around the lake. There is also the more strenuous Warren Canyon Trail, which is accessed from the Mt. Woodson Trail before you start the more serious ascent to the summit. If you head east on the Warren Canyon Trail from the Mt. Woodson Trail, you can take it all the way to Highway 67. Some hikers then head north alongside Highways 67 to get to the access road that is the Mt. Woodson – East Approach and make it a loop, but this is a busy street, so you may want to turn around at Highway 67 and head back towards the lake.

You can also reach the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve trail system from the trails northwest of the lake. Since most of the trails are not named, you may want to print a trail map to bring with you. There is plenty of parking at the lake, as well as restrooms, picnic areas and a concession stand. Leashed dogs are welcome on Lake Poway trails.

  • 14644 Lake Poway Road, Poway
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

97. Avocado Trail Link

The Avocado Trail Link begins on Lake Poway Road and ends at Twin Peaks Trail north of Tierra Bonita Elementary School. While it offers just over two miles of hiking or trail running on its own, the handy part about incorporating the Avocado Trail Link into your hike is that it connects to a handful of other Poway hiking trails, including Twin Peaks Trail, Del Poniente Trail and the Lake Poway trail system. Leashed dogs are allowed on the Avocado Trail Link and the other trails mentioned here with which it connects. Leashed dogs are welcome.

The Poway Trails Map and Trails Guide will help you plan your route. Be sure to print both of them, since the map only has trail numbers, and you need to find the trail name and info on the trail guide.

  • Lake Poway Road just west of Espola Road, Poway
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

98. Twin Peaks Trail

The most convenient access to Twin Peaks Trail is from Silverset Park, which also allows you to take advantage of the parking lot and restrooms. It can also be accessed at its westernmost point on Twin Peaks Road across from The Original Pancake House near Pomerado Road or at the other end of the trail on Tierra Bonita Road near Tierra Bonita Elementary School. If you begin your hike at the westernmost point, you will start off walking through a residential neighborhood. Starting off at Silverset Park will shorten your hike, but you do not have to walk between houses and can get right to hiking. There are some steep inclines on the Twin Peaks Trail and, from one end to the other, the trail is just under two miles long. Expect great views at the top and mark this one down as a hidden gem that lets you get back to nature right in the middle of suburbia. Leashed dogs are allowed on the trail.

Print the Poway Trails Map and Trail Guide to help you plan your outing.

  • 14795 Silverset Street, Poway
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

99. Silverset Park Walking Path

As you may have noticed by now, Poway has lots of hiking trails, but there are also some level, paved walking paths for folks looking for a place to jog with a stroller or take a brisk walk on a perfectly smooth path. One example is the paved walking loop at Silverset Park, which can be accessed from the park’s parking lot or from Fieldview Way. There are actually two loops here, which can be combined for a longer lap or enjoyed separately for a quick walk on a short lunch break. The smaller of the two loops skirts the baseball field, while the larger of the loops borders a large grass area and the play structures. Dogs are allowed, they just must be kept on a leash.

  • 14795 Silverset Street, Poway
  • Hours: Open Daily

100. Del Poniente Trail

The approximately 1.75-mile Del Poniente Trail begins on Del Poniente Road, crosses the Avocado Trail Link, Espola Trail and Twin Peaks Trail and ends at the Pomerado Trail. This easy trail is open to bicycles, leashed dogs and horses, so you might meet a variety of other folks while enjoying your morning stroll. Street parking is available near the trailhead on Del Poniente Road, which you can find using this trail map and guide. Leashed dogs are allowed, just be sure they are good around horses, since you can expect to see equestrians on the trail.

  • Del Poniente Road (west of Espola Road), Poway
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

101. Tierra Bonita Trail

The Tierra Bonita Trail connects the Del Poniente Trail to the Poway Valley Riders Association (PVRA) Trail. You may run into equestrians or mountain bikers on this trail as they, too, use this connection to go between the Del Poniente and PVRA trails. You can also hook into the Twin Peaks Trail from Tierra Bonita Trail and take it west to Pomerado Trail for a more challenging hike with some steep inclines. The trail will be much easier to find with this map and guide. Leashed dogs are welcome on the trail.

  • Del Poniente Trail (north) or PVRA Trail (south), Poway
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

102. Poway Valley Riders Association (PVRA) Trail

The PVRA Trail is open to hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers and runs from the Tierra Bonita Trail east to the Espola Trail. The trail runs past Dearborn Cemetery, which makes it a bit more unique for walking or jogging. Since this trail does not really have its own trailhead and connects two separate trails, you may want to bring this map and guide to help you find your way. This trail is frequented by equestrians, so if you bring your four-legged pals, be sure they are on a leash and will behave around horses.

  • Access from Tierra Bonita Trail or Espola Trail, Poway
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

103. Bette Bendixen Park Trails

From this tiny park on Old Pomerado Road you can find lesser-known trails that provide great scenery with less traffic than some of the other trails in this area. The trail system west of the park is all pretty easy, so this is a family-friendly set of walking paths where you can bring your leashed dog or avoid streets and residential neighborhoods for your morning jog. You can combine some of the connecting trails to form a loop or extend your workout. Leashed dogs are welcome, so your best pal can come jogging with you.

  • 12341 Old Pomerado Road, Poway
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

104. Garden Road Park Walking Path and Garden Road Trail

Garden Road Park has a paved, well-maintained walking path that gently curves through the park between Garden Road and Fairburn Street adjacent to Garden Road Elementary School. This easy, stroller- and wheelchair-friendly walking path is not going to give you much of a workout – unless you go back and forth multiple times – but it is a nice place to go for a short walk, particularly if you live in the surrounding neighborhoods. You can also access the Garden Road Trail from here, which is an easy, urban trail that heads east to the Sycamore Canyon neighborhood. Here is a trail map and trail guide for Poway, which might be helpful in finding the route to the Garden Road Trail. The park and trail allows leashed dogs.

  • 14800 Garden Road, Poway
  • Hours: Open Daily

105. Poway Community Park Walking Path

Poway Community Park, Civic Center and Community Swim Center are all on a large compound with sports courts, baseball fields, play structures, a dog park and a large parking lot. From the parking lot, you will see a paved walking path that starts off heading north out of the north end of the lot, and then curves around to run along the western border of the park. Follow this stroller- and wheelchair-friendly path all the way to Bowron Road and turn left to take the sidewalk to Civic Center Dirve. Turn left again to continue on the sidewalk back to the parking lot where you started. You have options to make smaller loops if you have less time, but if you are looking for a good walk, jog or run on a smooth surface, take in the whole loop to get in a pretty decent workout. Unless you are in the off-leash dog park, dogs must be kept on a leash throughout the park.

  • 13094 Civic Center Drive, Poway
  • Hours: Open Daily

106. Aubrey Park Trail and Old Poway Park Path

Aubrey Park is best known for baseball and softball, but there is also a well-maintained trail that borders the entire park and is a great place to get in a good jog or run. There is plenty of parking in a large lot, but when games are taking place, you can expect it to be more challenging to find a spot. There are restrooms in the park and a concession stand that is open during games. While you are here, you can burn a few more calories by crossing Aubrey Street to Old Poway Park where you will find a walking path that will lead you to the Heritage Museum, historic buildings, a fountain, a Saturday farmers market and the Poway Midland Railroad Depot. At the railroad depot, you can even buy tickets to ride the trains if you need a break from walking. Leashed dogs are allowed on the walking path, but they are probably not allowed on the trains.

  • 13544 Aubrey Street, Poway
  • Hours: Open Daily

107. Old Coach Trail

Old Coach Trail runs for about four miles between Old Coach Road and Highland Valley Road. There are staging areas at the northern and southern ends of the trail, and the trail is open to hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers. You can reach the Coast to Crest Trail from the northern staging area by crossing Highland Valley Road and heading just east to the trailhead. If you opt for this connection, you can take the San Pasqual Valley Trail to Raptor Ridge.

Old Coach Trail is an easy-to-moderate trail with some inclines that is partially made up of access roads, so it is wide and well maintained. This makes it a good choice for hiking or trail running. Part of the trail goes by a nursery and part skirts a golf course, but you mostly get to enjoy a natural setting with lots of shady areas to rest. If you start out at the Old Coach Trail South Staging Area, you will actually begin your hike on Justin’s Trail, which will lead to Old Coach Trail. The trail also connects to West Ridge Trail and Lomas Verde Trail. Leashed dogs are allowed on the main trail and connecting trails.

If you plan on combining more than one of these trails for an extended hike, you will want to bring along this trail map and trail guide to keep you on the correct course.

  • Old Coach Trail North Staging Area (by Evergreen Nursery Growing Grounds) – 14225 Highland Valley Road, Escondido
  • Old Coach Trail South Staging Area – near intersection of Espola Road and Old Coach Road, Poway
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

108. Justin’s Trail

To access the Justin’s Trail trailhead, park at the Old Coach Trail South Staging Area on Old Coach Road. You will need to cross the street from the staging area to find the trailhead. Justin’s Trail runs along Old Coach Road for just over one-half mile at which time you will cross Old Coach Road again if you want to continue on to Old Coach Trail. Leashed dogs are allowed on this trail and on the Old Coach Trail with which this trail connects.

  • Near Intersection of Espola Road and Old Coach Road, Poway
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

109. Lomas Verde Trail

Lomas Verde Trail is a relatively short hiking trail that connects West Ridge Trail with Old Coach Trail. The trailhead can be found on Old Winery Road where you will also find street parking. You can simply take this family-friendly, leashed dog-friendly trail from Old Winery Road to get to the Old Coach Trail, or you can make this a good loop for hiking or trail running by taking the Lomas Verde Trail to Old Coach Trail, heading south on Old Coach Trail to Justin’s Trail, continuing south to the Espola Trail, and then heading west to get to the West Ridge Trail. The West Ridge Trail will deliver you back to Old Winery Road.

If that sounds like it might get confusing, print this handy trail map and trail guide to help you plan your route.

  • Old Winery Road, Poway
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

110. Espola Trail

Park in the parking lot at Valle Verde Park, which is at the corner of Espola Road and Valle Verde Road, and head east on the trail along Espola Road. The road and trail will curve to the south and take you all the way to Poway Road. Along the way, you can connect to Justin’s Trail, Blue Sky Trail, Avocado Trail Link and Twin Peaks Road Trail. At the end of Espola Trail, you can pick up PVRA Trail, which heads west. By adding the Tierra Bonita Trail and Avocado Trail Link or Pomerado Trail, you can make this an extensive loop for a long walk or a great run. You can even bring your four-legged friend with you – as long as you keep him or her on a leash.

To help plan your route, here is a trail map and trail guide. Be sure to print both of them so that you can match the trail names to the numbers on the map.

  • Espola Road and Valle Verde Road, Poway
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

111. West Ridge Trail

West Ridge Trail also begins at Valle Verde Park, which allows you to take advantage of convenient parking and restrooms before hitting the trail. You will start out heading west from Valle Verde Park to pick up the West Ridge Trail, which will then curve to the north to take you to Old Winery Road where you can transfer to Lomas Verde Trail for a longer walk or run. You can make a loop to end up back at Valle Verde Park by taking Lomas Verde Trail to Old Coach Trail, going south on Old Coach Trail to Justin’s Trail, and then heading west on Espola Trail to return to the park. Leashed dogs are welcome on all of these trails.

Here is a trail map and trail guide to help you plan your route.

  • Espola Road and Valle Verde Road, Poway
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

112. Valle Verde Park Walking Path

If you prefer a paved path to a hiking trail, Valle Verde Park has a paved, well-maintained walking and jogging path that wraps around the border of the park. Leashed dogs are welcome and this path is completely stroller and wheelchair friendly, so this is a great place for the whole family to go for a leisurely stroll or for you to jog or run laps to burn some calories while the kids enjoy the playground. There is a parking lot for added convenience, as well as restrooms, benches and picnic tables.

  • 16899 St. Andrews Drive, Poway
  • Hours: Open Daily

113. Kent Trail

Kent Trail is a short, easy trail that runs from the Tierra Bonita Trail to Midland Road along Rattlesnake Creek. While this trail is short, it is mostly shaded and you get to walk alongside a creek, so that is a bonus. This one is good for a quick walk or jog close to home or for extending your Tierra Bonita Trail hike. If you have an older dog or a dog that is not quite in shape for hiking, this is a nice, short trail they should be able to handle. Just be sure to keep them on a leash. Kent Trail is easy to miss, but this trail map and guide will help you find your way.

  • Tierra Bonita Road or Midland Road at Rattlesnake Creek, Poway
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

114. South Poway Trail/Trans County Trail

South Poway Trail is part of the Trans County Trail System and is open to hikers, bicyclists and equestrians. Leashed dogs are allowed and you can access a few other trails from this trail, which runs from Pomerado Road to Sycamore Canyon Road. When completed, the trail will go farther east and connect with a section of the Espola Trail that is also not yet completed. There are several access points for South Poway Trail. One of the most convenient options is on Old Pomerado Road by Beeler Creek and offers street parking on Old Pomerado Road. Another convenient location is near the junction of Community Road and Metate Lane where you will find a staging area. While some of this trail has views of the South Poway Business Park there is also plenty of natural scenery to enjoy while hiking or trail running.

To help locate access points, here is a trail map and trail guide for the City of Poway.

  • Old Pomerado Road at Beeler Creek or Near Junction of Community Road and Metate Lane, Poway
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

115. Poway Creek Trail

Poway Creek Trail is a short, easy, urban trail that goes around Poway Royal Estates to connect Community Park with the South Poway Trail. If you live in this area, this might be a good route for taking your dog to Poway Dog Park at Community Park. It is also an easy way to access South Poway Trail from the convenient parking at the park. You will find this trail in the lower-left section of this trail map (use the trail guide to connect the trail name to the number on the map).

  • 3094 Civic Center Drive (to park at Community Park), Poway
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

116. Pomerado Trail

The Pomerado Trail is not yet complete, but there are large sections that can be enjoyed now. You can access the trail at the northern end by taking the Green Valley Trails from Espola Road near Valle Verde Park. Once on the trail, it stays relatively close to Pomerado Road. While it is not complete, there is a good section of trail between the Green Valley Trails and Del Poniente Trail that allows you to use Pomerado Trail as part of a larger loop.

The section that would run roughly between where the Pomerado Trail meets the Del Poniente Trail to the point where the proposed addition to the Pomerado Trail would meet the Twin Peaks Trail is not yet complete. There is also a section farther south that is not yet complete but will connect this trail with the South Poway Trail in the future.

Leashed dogs are welcome on the trail. You will probably want to print this trail map and trail guide to help you determine which sections of Pomerado Trail are currently open to the public.

  • Off Espola Road near Valley Verde Park, Poway
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

117. Twin Peaks Road Trail

The Twin Peaks Road Trail is not the same as the Twin Peaks Trail, which is also in Poway and connects to the Twin Peaks Road Trail east of the junction of Pomerado Road and Twin Peaks Road. The trail runs alongside Twin Peaks Road and, thus, is easy to find, easy to follow and easy to access from many points along the way. At its westernmost point it reaches nearly to Interstate 15, while its easternmost point terminates at the Espola Trail at Rattlesnake Canyon. This is one of the flattest trails in the Poway trail system, which makes it a good choice for joggers, runners and anyone who prefers to get their exercise on a relatively level, well-maintained surface. You can also bring your best four-legged friend along for your run, just be sure he or she is on a leash.

  • Access points vary and can be found on the trail map with the help of the trail guide. Poway
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

118. Other Poway Trails to Keep an Eye On

There are several planned trails that are either currently under construction or are planned but not yet under construction. These include Beeler Creek Trail, Tooth Rock Trail and Rattlesnake Canyon Trail. You can see their planned routes on the Poway Trails Map by using the numbers on the map to connect with the names of the trails on the trail guide. Other trails that you will see on the map but that were not mentioned above are Scrub Oak Trail and Green Valley Trails, which are short, connecting trails that may come in handy when navigating through Poway on foot.

  • Locations vary and can be found on the trail map with the help of the trail guide. Poway
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

VALLEY CENTER

119. Hellhole Canyon County Preserve Trails

The 1,907-acre Hellhole Canyon County Preserve is home to 13.5 miles of hiking, mountain biking and riding trails. For the convenience of visitors, the preserve also offers a parking and staging area with a vault restroom and water. Hikers and trail runners here will enjoy a variety of habitats, including riparian, oak groves, sycamore groves, grasslands and chaparral.

Trails in Hellhole Canyon County Preserve include Hell Creek Trail, Canyon View Trail, Horse Thief Trail, Paradise Mountain Trail and Rodriguez Peak Trail. You will start off on the Hell Creek Trail as you leave the staging area and will hike or trail run about 1.3 miles before you hit the other trails. Once you have arrived, you can choose from a few loop trails, depending on the length and difficulty you are looking for in a hike. The Horse Thief Loop Trail is the shortest loop at about 1.5 miles, while the Canyon View Trail is a bit longer. Both of these trails increase in elevation for better views of the canyon, and you can combine the loops to extend your hike.

More experienced hikers looking for a more strenuous hike or trail run will find the Rodriguez Peak Trail and Paradise Mountain Trail just under two miles from the staging area. Combined, these trails offer a loop that is just over five miles in length. While there are great views from many spots on these trails, there are two designated view points off of the Rodriguez Peak Trail if you do not mind adding about 1.2 miles to your hike to walk to and from each one from the main trail.

If you are looking for an easier hike, your best bet in this preserve is the Hell Creek Trail and Horse Thief Loop, which is an easy-to-moderate, approximately 4.1-mile hike that is steep near the staging area. If you plan to bring your dog, make sure to keep him or her on a leash.

This park brochure has a trail map and more information about the preserve to help you plan you visit.

  • 19324 Santee Lane, Valley Center
  • Pedestrian Access Hours: Friday through Monday, Sunrise to Sunset
  • Vehicle Access Hours: Friday through Monday, 8:00am to Sunset
  • The preserve is closed August 1 through Labor Day weekend due to heat.

120. Sunshine Trail

This short walking path runs alongside the solar farm off Valley Center Road. Currently, it is great for a short walk, jog or run, and there are future plans to expand this trail and connect it to other trails. You can also bring your leashed dogs or strollers on this easy, level walking path.

  • Valley Center Road, Valley Center
  • Hours: Open Daily

121. Heritage Trail

Heritage Trail is an easy, well-maintained walking and running trail that runs for about 2.5 miles along Valley Center Road. Leashed dogs are welcome on the path, and future plans include connecting this trail to other proposed trails in Valley Center.

  • Valley Center Road, Valley Center
  • Hours: Open Daily

RAMONA

122. Ramona Grasslands Preserve Trails

Ramona Grasslands Preserve is open to hikers, leashed dogs, mountain bikers and equestrians and offers visitors the chance to explore grasslands, wetlands and chaparral. While the preserve covers more than 3,520 acres and there are plans to expand public access, there are currently four miles of non-motorized, multi-use trails that meander through about 480 acres in the western section of the preserve.

This is a well-maintained, two-loop trail system where you will likely see lots of folks on horseback or pushing strollers as they enjoy this easy walk. The trailhead for both loops is easily accessed from the parking and staging area. If you are short on time, you will find the Meadow Loop right after entering the preserve and can get in a quick walk or run on this .8-mile loop. Otherwise, head up the main trail to connect with the two-mile Wildflower Loop, which feels more like a hike, although the trail is still wide and maintained.

  • Highland Valley Road (just east of Archie Moore Road), Ramona
  • Pedestrian Access Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Vehicle Access Hours: 8:00am to Sunset

123. Dos Picos Regional Park Trails

Dos Picos Regional Park is home to two nature trails. The shorter nature trail is an easy loop trail with a trailhead at the southeast corner of the parking lot farthest east after you enter the park. The trailhead for the longer nature trail is past the campgrounds in the southwest section of the park just before the road loops around and connects back to itself. There are restrooms near the trailhead, so that is an added convenience. This trail meanders through the park, and then forks to offer two different trails that lead back to the main road running through the park.

Both of the trails are kid friendly and allow leashed dogs. If you are not camping at the park, there is a $3.00 fee for day-use parking. This trail map will make it easier to find the trailheads once you are in the park.

  • 17953 Dos Picos Park Road, Ramona
  • Day Use Hours: 9:30am to Sunset

124. Mount Gower County Preserve Trails

The 1,574-acre Mount Gower County Preserve offers eight miles of trails that are most popular with hikers and trail runners, but you will sometimes see folks heading out for trail rides. This trail is not as crowded as some of the more popular North County hiking trails, which likely has to do with the difficulty of the hike. So, if you are up for a challenge and prefer communing with nature with fewer folks around, this one might be a good choice for you.

Vehicle access to the staging area opens at 8:00am, but hikers who park in the parking area outside of the gated staging area can hit the trails as early as sunrise. From the trailhead, you will hike about one-quarter mile to the first spot where you see a fork in the trail. From here, you can take the left fork for an easier, shorter hike or run, or head right to make your way to the peak. If you choose the trail leading to the peak, you will find another fork after hiking in about one mile. If you take the trail to the right, you can make your way to a vista point, and then return to the main trail and either go left to return to the parking lot or head right to continue on to the peak.

The hike to the peak is long and strenuous with a lot of ups and downs, several steep inclines and a scramble towards the end. While there are restrooms and water available at the staging area, there are just a few benches once you hit the trail. Leashed dogs are allowed here, but if you are hiking or trail running the nearly four miles to the peak, you will need to be sure your dog is physically fit to handle this trek.

  • 17090 Gunn State Road, Ramona
  • Pedestrian Access Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Vehicle Access Hours: 8:00am to Sunset
  • The preserve is closed August 1 through Labor Day weekend due to heat.

125. Mount Woodson Estates Trail (aka Mount Woodson – East Approach)

A more detailed account of the Mount Woodson trail system can be found in the Poway trails section; however, the Mount Woodson Estates Trail trailhead is located in Ramona and worth mentioning here. Most often known as the Mount Woodson Trail – East Approach Trail, this shorter, less-crowded way to the top is mostly by way of an access road. This approach is about half of the distance of the Mount Woodson Trail – West Approach and is a better-maintained, wider trail. It is, however, steeper, which makes it popular with trail runners and hikers looking for a calorie-burning climb.

If you prefer a loop trail, take the Mount Woodson Trail – East Approach to the summit, begin the descent on the Mount Woodson Trail – West Approach, and the take the Fry-Koegel Trail that winds around past Mount Woodson Golf Club and back to Highway 67.

This trail map and guide will assist you in planning your route.

  • Near 16310 Highway 67 (Cal Fire Station), Ramona
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

126. Black Mountain Truck Trail

The first thing to know is that this is the larger (much larger) of the two Black Mountains in San Diego County. The smaller and better-known Black Mountain is located in Rancho Peñasquitos and offers a much less-challenging hiking experience. This Black Mountain, which is located in Ramona, is generally considered one of the toughest hikes in San Diego County. The second thing to know is that this is a truck trail, which means you may encounter 4×4 vehicles during your hike.

You will start the hike on Forest Service Road 12S07. After about 1.5 miles, the Black Mountain Truck Trail (Forest Service Road 11S04) continues to the left, while the Santa Ysabel Truck Trail (Forest Road 12S07) heads off to the right.

The Black Mountain Truck Trail is a strenuous, mostly uphill, 7.1-mile one-way hike that does not see a lot of foot or vehicle traffic and offers some amazing scenery. Because of its location and lack of traffic, this hike has more of a backcountry feel than many of the others found in North County, and you are more likely to see local wildlife while you explore. For the most part, you will be hiking up an access road. Once you reach the end of the road, you will need to go a bit farther up a narrower path to reach the summit. Rest, enjoy the views, and then head back down the hill for another 7.1-mile trek back to your car.

Street parking is available on Pamo Road. Black Mountain is in the Cleveland National Forest; therefore, you will need an Adventure Pass to park a vehicle on the road near the trailhead.

  • Pamo Road at Forest Service Road 12S07, Ramona
  • Hours: Open Daily

127. Upper Santa Ysabel Truck Trail

The Upper Santa Ysabel Truck Trail is part of the Coast to Crest Trail and can be accessed from the same trailhead used to hike the Black Mountain Truck Trail. This is also a long, strenuous hike with steep sections, but there is a much lower chance of sharing the trail with 4x4s, which makes this option more popular with hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. Leashed dogs are allowed, but this is another trail where you really need to consider the fitness and comfort of your dog before bringing her or him with you.

You will start your hike on Forest Service Road 12S07 off Pamo Road and go about 1.5 miles until the spot where Black Mountain Truck Trail goes north and Upper Santa Ysabel Truck Trail heads east. To continue on this trail, you will stay on Forest Service Road 12S07 heading east. Alternatively, you can start your hike at the eastern trailhead, which is located at the end of Sutherland Dam Road and head west to Pamo Road. Either way, your one-way trip will be approximately six miles.

Street parking is available on Pamo Road. The Upper Santa Ysabel Truck Trail is in the Cleveland National Forest; therefore, you will need an Adventure Pass to park a vehicle near either of the trailheads.

  • Pamo Road at Forest Service Road 12S07 (westside trailhead), Ramona
  • Sutherland Dam Road (eastside trailhead), Ramona
  • Hours: Open Daily

128. Lower Santa Ysabel Truck Trail

The 3.4-mile Lower Santa Ysabel Truck Trail runs between Pamo Road and the Boden Canyon Trailhead on Highway 78. It is part of the Coast to Crest Trail system and is frequented by hikers, horseback riders, mountain bikers and trail runners. This is an easier trail than the nearby Upper Santa Ysabel Truck Trail or Black Mountain Truck Trail, so hikers and trail runners might want to try this one out first before moving up to the more difficult trails in this area. While it is an easier hike, there is little shade on this route, so you should still remember to bring plenty of water.

Street parking is available on Pamo Road, in the Clevenger Canyon staging area or near the Boden Canyon Trailhead. The Lower Santa Ysabel Truck Trail is in the Cleveland National Forest; therefore, you will need an Adventure Pass to park a vehicle near either end of the trail.

  • Pamo Road and Forest Service Road 12S04 (eastern trailhead), Ramona
  • East of Clevenger Canyon staging area on Highway 78 (Boden Canyon Trailhead), Ramona
  • Hours: Open Daily

129. Orosco Truck Trail/Guejito Truck Trail

Heading out from the Boden Canyon Trailhead off San Pasqual Valley Road (Highway 78), you can take the Orosco Truck Trail for a 15.3-mile, out-and-back trek. While you may see some mountain bikers on this trail, it is mostly frequented by hikers and trail runners. This is a moderate hike but very long. Like other hikes in this area, there is more of a backcountry feel and fewer fellow hikers, which makes this a popular choice for folks who prefer a natural setting with beautiful scenery and the potential to see wildlife as they hike or run in relative solitude.

Parking is available in the Clevenger Canyon staging area or near the Boden Canyon Trailhead. The Orosco Truck Trail is in the Cleveland National Forest; therefore, you will need an Adventure Pass to park a vehicle near the trailhead.

  • East of Clevenger Canyon staging area on Highway 78 (Boden Canyon Trailhead), Ramona
  • Hours: Open Daily

130. Boden Canyon Ecological Reserve Trail

To reach the Boden Canyon Ecological Reserve Trail, start out on the Orosco Truck Trail off Pamo Road. For the first few miles, you will drive on Orosco Truck Trail until you reach the gate on USFS Route 12502, which is where you will park, pass the gate on foot and pick up the trail. You may see birdwatchers, trail runners or folks hiking with their dogs, but you will not run into equestrians or mountain bikers in the reserve.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife have this handy map to help folks find the trail and know where to park.

  • Orosco Truck Trail and Pamo Road, Ramona
  • Hours: Open Daily

131. San Pasqual – Clevenger Canyon Trails

The San Pasqual – Clevenger Canyon trail system is located between Escondido and Ramona off Highway 78. There are two trailheads just off the highway, and you will find a paved parking area at each of them. Since one trailhead is on the southside of Highway 78 and the other is on the northside, your first decision will be which way to head.

San Pasqual – Clevenger Canyon South Trail is a moderate hike and is less challenging then the North Trail. There is a single trail leading into the wilderness from the southern trailhead, which then forks to offer you a choice of taking the West Trail or East Trail. The West Trail is shorter at a total of about 1.5 miles from the parking lot. The East Trail takes you a bit farther into nature and is about 2.3 miles (one way) from the parking lot. Leashed dogs are allowed on both the North Trail and South Trail, but the South Trail is more dog friendly and kid friendly.

San Pasqual – Clevenger Canyon North Trail is a longer, more strenuous hike that was, at one time, a 20-mile round trip. Currently, much of the trail is overgrown, so if you stay on the marked, visible trail, your hike or trail run will be much shorter. The City of San Diego owns and maintains these trails, and recommends that hikers stick to the section of the trail that is well defined, which seems to offer a round-trip hike that is about 9.5 miles at this time.

Mountain bikes are not allowed on these trails, so if you prefer hiking or trail running sans bikers, these are good choices. Both trails offer great scenery and views, and you can even see the ocean from the West Trail on clear days.

This San Pasqual Open Space Trail Map can help you decide which trailhead you would like to use to start your journey.

You can also request a map or get more information about the San Pasqual and Clevenger Canyon trails by calling the park ranger office at (858) 538-8082.

  • 18379-18499 San Pasqual Valley Road (Highway 78), Ramona
  • Hours: Open Daily

132. Simon County Preserve Trails

If you are familiar with hiking trails in Ramona, you likely are aware that many of them are moderate to strenuous and not incredibly family friendly. However, the five miles of multi-use trails in Simon County Preserve offer an option that the whole family – including your leashed dogs – can enjoy. The preserve is just 650 acres and allows access to hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders. The trail can be a bit rocky and does climb 550 feet so that you can enjoy the views from Ramona Peak, but it is well maintained and an easy-to-moderate hike. As an added bonus, there is a dog park near the street parking for this trailhead so, if your dog has any energy left after the hike, you can let him or her run around – or at least get a good drink of water – at the dog park. There is also a shaded picnic table and information kiosk near the start of the hike.

  • 23500 Bassett Street, Ramona
  • Pedestrian Access Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Vehicle Access Hours: 8:00am to Sunset

133. Barnett Ranch Preserve Trails

The 728-acre Barnett Ranch Preserve has four miles of non-motorized, multi-use trails that are open to hikers, runners, equestrians and mountain bikers. For the convenience of visitors, there is a staging area, as well as a restroom and picnic tables, which gives the preserve extra points in the family friendly area. It is part of the County of San Diego’s Multiple Species Conservation Program and is home to sensitive bird species, which draws the birdwatchers you will likely see as you are hiking or running on the trails. Part of the four miles of trails here includes a 2.5-mile loop that is good for trail running or taking an easy hike with your leashed dog or kids.

  • 1500 Deviney Lane/San Vincente Road, Ramona
  • Pedestrian Access Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Vehicle Access Hours: 8:00am to Sunset

134. Cedar Creek Falls Trail

The 6.6-mile round trip Cedar Creek Falls Trail is a beautiful trail that leads to what some consider to be the most beautiful waterfall in the county. There is also a swimming hole at the base of the waterfall, which is sure to be a nice reward if you use this moderate-to-difficult trail for hiking or trail running on a warm day.

Leashed dogs are allowed on this trail, but – like most other trails in North County – it is not recommended that hikers bring dogs with them on hot days. The hot months of summer are also the most dangerous for human hikers on this trail and, since the falls may not even be running in the summer months, you may want to schedule this hike for spring or fall. There is also a trailhead leading to the falls from Julian, but the trail that begins in Ramona is generally considered a better option.

For more tips on preparing to hike or trail run on this trail, check out this Cedar Creek Falls infographic.

A $6.00 permit covers up to five people for one day, and permits must be purchased before the day of your hike by calling (877) 444-6777 or going to recreation.gov. The number of people allowed to visit the area around the waterfall each day is limited, so rangers do actually check for permits.

Cedar Creek Falls can also be reached from the Eagle Peak Trailhead in Julian; however, the Ramona trailhead is more popular.

  • 15519 Thornbush Road, Ramona
  • Hours: Open Daily

135. West Side Road Trail

The two-mile West Side Road Trail is an old access road just outside of San Diego Estates that begins in a residential neighborhood. The trail definitely climbs, but it is both kid friendly and dog friendly. When you reach the end of the trail, do not cross the barrier, which indicates the beginning of private land. However, if you make your way northeast at this point, you will get a view of Devil’s Jumpoff, which is a waterfall that may or may not be running, depending on the amount of recent rainfall.

You will find street parking near the trailhead at the end of Ramona Oaks Road. If you are facing the dead end, look to the left to see a paved road that looks like a driveway. This is where you will start your hike. You will soon come to a gate with a sign indicating that the road is closed. It is closed to vehicle traffic, but is open to hikers.

  • West Side Road at the end of Ramona Oaks Road, Ramona
  • Hours: Open Daily

136. San Diego Country Estates Trails

There are miles of walking and riding trails in the San Diego Country Estates area of Ramona. This includes the .5-mile West Side Trail, Pony Club Trail, Swartz Canyon Trail, West Side Loop, Nature Trail, the .7-mile North Side Trail and several other trails that wind through the community. There is a 3.3-mile fitness course that loops around Stone Mountain by combining part of the Swartz Canyon Trail with the South Side Trail, West Side Trail and North Side Trail.

Trail locations vary but can be easily found on the San Diego Country Estates Trail Map.

  • See Trail Map for Trailhead Locations, Ramona
  • Hours: Open Daily

RANCHO BERNARDO

137. Battle Mountain Trail

This short, steep trail leads from the end of Reata Way to the Battle Mountain Cross, which can easily be seen when driving on Interstate 15. While the hike to the top is less than .5 mile, expect to get your heart pumping as you make the climb. The trail is steeper than it looks from the bottom, which makes it great for trail runners or walkers looking for a lower-body workout to burn calories in a short amount of time. In fact, you could even do this one on your lunch break if you work nearby.

While it is steep, this is a kid-friendly, leashed dog-friendly trail, and you might find your kids running up it faster than you can. Just be sure they watch their step on the way down, since the descent is, of course, also steep. This short hike is particularly good for starting your day with a strenuous walk, trail running, enjoying a family-friendly hike or as practice while you prepare from some of the more difficult North County hiking trails. You also get to finally say that you hiked to the cross, and you can enjoy views of Lake Hodges, Palomar Mountain and more from the top.

  • Cul-de-sac at the end of Reata Way, San Diego (Rancho Bernardo)
  • Hours: Open Daily

138. Rancho Bernardo Community Park Walking Path and Trails

Rancho Bernardo Community Park has bathrooms, water, a parking lot, and paved, well-maintained walking and jogging paths that meander through the park. As a bonus, this is also home to the Rancho Bernardo Dog Park, so you can get in some off-leash time with your best pal after keeping her or him leashed while walking, jogging or running through the park.

  • 18448 West Bernardo Drive, San Diego (Rancho Bernardo)
  • Hours: Open Daily

4S RANCH

139. 4S Heritage Park Walking Path

The large walking loop at 4S Heritage Park is paved, well-maintained and an easy, level surface anyone can enjoy. The path is completely stroller and wheelchair friendly, and joggers and runners looking for a better workout can do multiple laps to keep their heart rate up. The park, itself, is a lovely place to take a brisk morning walk or a leisurely evening stroll, but you can significantly lengthen your route if you include some of the surrounding 4S Ranch walking paths that wind through the neighborhood. There is also a paved path that connects this loop path with the loop walking path at 4S Homestead Park. Leashed dogs are welcome.

  • 16789 Deer Ridge Road, San Diego (4S Ranch)
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

140. 4S Homestead Park Walking Path

This small park has a well-maintained, paved, stroller- and wheelchair-friendly walking or jogging path that runs around and through the park. You can easily extend your route by incorporating the paved walking path that connects this park with the nearby 4S Heritage Park or other paths in the area. Leashed dogs are welcome.

  • 9989 Fox Valley Road, San Diego (4S Ranch)
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

141. 4S Ranch Liberty County Park Walking Path

Liberty Park has a quarter-mile, paved walking and jogging path running around the park, which offers a perfect spot for anyone from a casual walker to a serious runner to do a few laps on a well-maintained path close to home. But the real draw for walkers, joggers and runners will be the miles of paved walking paths you can access from the park and the area immediately around the park. Leashed dogs are welcome.

  • 17750 Hunters Ridge Road, San Diego (4S Ranch)
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

142. 4S Ranch Sports Park Walking Path

There are walking paths everywhere you turn in 4S Ranch, so it is not difficult to find a great place to walk, jog or run. However, if you are specifically looking for a place where you can park in a parking lot, have access to restrooms, and have access to a big walking loop for doing laps on a paved, level surface, then the 4S Ranch Sports Park should be added to the list. The large loop here runs around the perimeter of the sports fields and can be accessed directly from the parking lot. There is also a smaller loop around the playground area, which allows parents and caregivers to get in a little exercise while watching the kids. Leashed dogs are welcome.

  • 16118D 4S Ranch Parkway, San Diego (4S Ranch)
  • Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 4:00pm

143. Patriot Park Walking Loops

Patriot Park offers two paved, well-maintained, stroller- and wheelchair-friendly walking loops. Both the longer loop and the shorter loop can be easily accessed from the parking lot. There are also paths connecting the two loops if you are looking for a longer walk or run. The bonus here is that the 4S Parkway Walking Greens are just across the street. Leashed dogs are welcome.

  • 10502 Paseo De Linda, San Diego (4S Ranch)
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

144. 4S Ranch Parkway Walking Greens

4S Ranch is teeming with paved paths for walking and jogging, but perhaps the best spot to walk, jog or run in 4S Ranch is at the 4S Ranch Parkway Walking Greens. This long stretch of community park space stretches along 4S Ranch Parkway from southwest of Camino San Thomas to northeast of Paseo De Linda. The loop is about one-half mile in length, and you will definitely see families, parents with strollers and folks with leashed dogs enjoying this beautifully maintained path.

  • 10502 Paseo De Linda, San Diego (4S Ranch)
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

RANCHO PENASQUITOS

145. Black Mountain Open Space Park Trails

This open space park surrounds the smaller of San Diego’s two Black Mountains (the other Black Mountain is in Ramona). This Black Mountain is incredibly popular for weekend hikes, which is largely due to its central, convenient location and the trail system having something for just about everyone, ranging from families looking for a casual nature walk to experienced hikers looking for something a bit more challenging.

Trails in Black Mountain Open Space Park include Lusardi Creek Loop Trail, Ahwee Trail, Lilac Canyon Trail, Glider Point Trail, Roadrunner Loop Trail, Little Black Loop Trail, Nighthawk Trail, Manzanita Loop Trail, Miner’s Ridge Loop Trail, East Rim Trail, South Point View Trail, Jas Arnold Trail for all People and the Black Mountain Service Road.

There are five main trailheads from which to access these trails. From the Black Mountain Ranch Community Park Trailhead, you can access the Lusardi Creek Look Trail and the Ahwee Trail, which connects with the Lilac Canyon Trail. From the trailhead on the south side of Carmel Valley Road, you can access the Lilac Canyon Trail and Glider Point Trail, both of which can lead you to other trails in the southern part of the Black Mountain trail system.

If you are most interested in hiking some combination of the Nighthawk Trail, East Rim Trail, Manzanita Loop Trail, Little Black Loop Trail and Roadrunner Loop Trail, you will want to use the Hilltop Community Park and Recreation Center Trailhead. The trailhead on Maler Road that leads you to the Black Mountain Service Road is your best option if you are looking to hike on a wide, well-maintained, easier trail to the summit. This gravel road is about 1.9 miles long and, while it is not as interesting as some of the other trails to the summit, such as the popular Nighthawk Trail, it is the easiest way to get to the top, particularly if have little ones or leashed dogs hiking with you.

There is also a trailhead off of Carmel Valley Road with a parking lot, information kiosk and access to the Jas Arnold Trail for All People, which is one of the features that sets this North County hiking destination apart from others. The 1,100-foot loop trail is completely ADA accessible and has wheelchair accessible shade structures, allowing people with mobility issues to enjoy a smooth, maintained trail.

There are lots of side trails and spots where trails connect, so you have lots of options for exploring the mountain and will definitely need to visit the 2,352-acre park more than once to explore all of the trails.

You will see Miner’s Ridge Loop Trail on trail maps but, at the time of this writing, this trail is closed due to tested levels of arsenic in the soil. At this time, there is not an estimated date for this trail reopening to the public. For the health of your family and dogs, obey the trail closure signs and use this trail map to plan your hike on some of the other great trails here.

  • Hilltop Park and Recreation Center Trailhead: 9711 Oviedo Way, San Diego (Rancho Peñasquitos)
  • Black Mountain Ranch Park Trailhead: 14700 Carmel Valley Road, San Diego (Rancho Peñasquitos)
  • Trailhead locations vary, please see map.
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

146. Hilltop Community Park Walking Path

If you are looking for walking paths in Rancho Peñasquitos that are a bit less rugged, Hilltop Community Park has a paved walking and jogging trail that forms two loops encircling the park’s other amenities. The shorter loop is a good option for walking or jogging with a stroller while your older kids play on the play structures or partake in programs at the recreation center, while the longer loop is perfect for walking, jogging or running laps. This park also has a parking lot, restroom and recreation center as added bonuses.

  • 9711 Oviedo Way, San Diego (Rancho Peñasquitos)
  • Hours: Open Daily

147. Ridgewood Neighborhood Park Walking Path and Trailhead

The Ridgewood Park walking path offers a smooth, paved loop perfect for taking your dog for his or her morning walk or for squeezing in a few laps of jogging after work. The path runs around the border of the park and is mostly frequented by folks who live nearby and incorporate this into their regular walking or running route.

From the park, you can also access the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Reserve trail system to the west.

  • 12604 La Tortola, San Diego (Rancho Peñasquitos)
  • Hours: Open Daily

148. Views West Neighborhood Park Walking Path

The walking and jogging path at Views West Neighborhood Park is a paved, well-maintained loop that goes around the perimeter of the northern section of the park. There is also a parking lot and restrooms, which makes this a convenient option for morning or lunchtime walking and jogging.

  • 12958 La Tortola, San Diego (Rancho Peñasquitos)
  • Hours: Open Daily

149. Los Peñasquitos Canyon Reserve Trails

This is one of the most popular hiking and trail running spots in the entire county and for good reason. First, it is centrally located between North County and the downtown San Diego area and surrounding suburbs. This draws visitors from both ends of the county. Secondly, it offers a variety of habitats to explore and some truly beautiful scenery on more than 10 miles of trails, including a waterfall. Aside from these appealing attributes, the entire trail system is relatively easy with well-maintained and well-marked trails, is great for kids and families, is partially wheelchair accessible and allows dogs – as long as they are on a leash that is no more than eight feet in length. There is lots of parking for cars and horse trailers in the large staging area off of Black Mountain Road, and the mostly flat loop trail lets you explore the canyon and easily return to your car. While there are two main trails that form the loop, there are lots of side trails, which allow you to create a short or long route and explore different areas on every visit.

The trail is mostly flat and wide and, really, this is more of a walk than a hike as far as difficulty is concerned. This allows folks of all skill and fitness levels to enjoy rock formations, sycamore groves, oak groves, the year-round creek and other scenery more commonly scene on more difficult hikes without the difficult hike part. There are, of course, some descents and ascents and areas where the pathway narrows but, overall, this is a family-friendly option that most folks can enjoy.

You can expect to see a lot of traffic on Los Peñasquitos Canyon Trail on weekends, including mountain bikers and horseback riders. While some of the trails prohibit bikes, there is still a pretty good chance that you will run into at least a few on those trails as well. The area around the waterfall can be particularly crowded on weekends.

The preserve stretches about seven miles from Interstate 5 to just east of Interstate 15 and there are a ton of access points along the seven-mile stretch. Many are informal trailheads in and near the residential neighborhoods north of the canyon. Two of the main trailheads are on Vista Sorrento Parkway, but the most popular trailhead is at the opposite end of the reserve on Black Mountain Road. The Black Mountain Road staging area has a large parking lot with room for cars and horse trailers, bathrooms and access to Peñasquitos Canyon Trailhead North. The entrance to the staging area is on Black Mountain Road where Mercy Road and Black Mountain Road meet.

Other trailheads with parking lots and informal trails that connect to this trail system can be found on Sorrento Valley Boulevard and at Canyonside Park, Camino Del Sur Park, Peñasquitos Creek Park and Camino Ruiz Neighborhood Park. This interactive map of the reserve, which was created by Yash Huilgol as part of an Eagle Scout project, will help you find the most popular trailheads and points of interest.

Los Peñasquitos Canyon Reserve includes Lopez Canyon and the Lopez Canyon Trail, which can be accessed from the Sorrento Valley Boulevard trailhead, where there are restrooms and a parking lot. It can also be accessed from the trailhead off Pacific Center Boulevard, which also has a parking area.

If you choose the convenience of the Black Mountain Road staging area, there is a $3.00 parking fee.

  • 12020 Black Mountain Road, San Diego (Rancho Peñasquitos)
  • Pedestrian Access Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Vehicle Access Hours: 8:00am to Sunset

150. Carmel Mountain Preserve Trails

There are more than five miles of hiking trails in the 400-acre Carmel Mountain Preserve, which allows locals and visitors to get back to nature in the middle of an urban setting. Residential neighborhoods surround the preserve, but atop the mesa you can experience uncommon flora and fauna, including vernal pools in wetter months.

The two-mile Carmel Valley Recreational and Equestrian Path, which is divided by a fence with a paved trail on one side and an unpaved trail on the other, is one of the trails in the preserve. Most of the trails here are open to hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians, and trails here connect to the trail systems in Los Peñasquitos Canyon Reserve and Del Mar Mesa Preserve. Your best options for parking are off Del Mar Mesa Road, Fairport Way and Shorepoint Way. You can also use the trail map to help you determine where best to park and access the trails.

  • Clews Rancho Road at Carmel Country Road, San Diego (Carmel Valley)
  • Hours: Open Daily

151. Del Mar Mesa Preserve

This is another example of a nature preserve amidst housing developments, which provides local residents and visitors a convenient, nearby option for morning trail runs or family hikes. The trails here are open to hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians, and leashed dogs are allowed. Del Mar Mesa Preserve is north of Los Peñasquitos Canyon Reserve with several trails connecting the two. This allows you to create a longer hiking or trail running route to extend your urban hiking experience.

  • Del Mar Mesa Road, San Diego (Del Mar Mesa)
  • Hours: 5:00am to 9:00pm

VISTA

152. Arroyo Vista Trail

Buena Vista Park is home to several small hiking trails, most of which are connected to Arroyo Vista Trail, which is the main trail running through the park. While it can be accessed from South Melrose Drive, most people enter Buena Vista Park on Shadowridge Drive to take advantage of the convenient parking lot. At the southern end of the parking lot, you will find a marked trailhead for the approximately 2.5-mile round trip that is mostly alongside Agua Hedionda Creek. This is an easy, family-friendly trail for walking or running.

  • 1601 Shadowridge Drive, Vista
  • Hours: 7:00am to 7:00pm

153. Buena Vista Creek Trail

The Buena Vista Creek Trail runs between Wildwood Park and Brengle Terrace Park. It can be accessed at either end from the parks or from access points along the way. The westernmost trailhead, which provides access from Wildwood Park, is at the back of the park near the Rancho Buena Vista Adobe. This easy, well-maintained, family-friendly trail is maintained by The Vista Conservancy and provides a smooth, level surface for trail running or a nature walk with your kids.

  • 651 East Vista Way (Wildwood Park Trailhead), Vista
  • 1200 Vale Terrace Drive (Brengle Terrace Park Trailhead), Vista
  • Hours: Open Daily

PALA

154. Wilderness Gardens Preserve Trails

The 737-acre Wilderness Gardens Preserve is home to four miles of hiking trails and has a staging area and portable restrooms. Trails in the preserve include Camelia Trail, River View Trail, Upper Meadow Trail and Alice Trail. All of the trails can be accessed from the trailhead at the staging area. For folks looking for a short hike, there is a very short trail that leads to a viewpoint from the parking lot, and the Alice Trail is a short loop trail that stays close to the parking lot. All of the trails here are easy enough to enjoy with your family, and since there are only about four miles of trails, you can explore them all in a single visit.

You can pay the $3.00 parking fee at the ranger station near the beginning of the trail. Dogs are not allowed in the preserve. You do not really need a trail map for this one, but you can print this map if you would like to bring one with you.

  • 14209 Highway 76, Pala
  • Pedestrian Access Hours: Friday through Monday, Sunrise to Sunset
  • Vehicle Access Hours: Thursday through Tuesday, 8:00am to 4:00pm (closed Wednesdays)
  • Closed in August due to heat.

JULIAN

155. Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve

The 2,900-acre Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve is just north of Julian and offers a five-mile round-trip hike to the summit of Volcan Mountain. Once you are on Farmer Road, look for the Hubbell Gateway, which is a distinctive entrance to the trailhead that is hard to miss. Be sure to check out the information at the gate to see if the Mid-Summit Gate is open, since it is usually only open on the weekends and for holidays between April and October.

If the gate is closed, you can do a moderate, 3.2-mile round-trip hike from the trailhead to the gate. If it is open, you can do a 5.4-mile out-and-back hike to the summit. The Summit Trail Fire Road is open to both hikers and mountain bikers, but the Five Oaks Trail is for hikers only, so this option might be preferable to trail runners and some hikers. There are no restrooms or water available at the preserve, so be sure to make a pit stop in Julian before you head up to the trail.

You can pick up a trail map at the trailhead, or print this one before you go.

  • 1209 Farmer Road, Julian
  • Pedestrian Access Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Vehicle Access Hours: 8:00am to Sunset

156. William Heise County Park

This 929-acre park is home to 10.75 miles of non-motorized, multi-use trails open to hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders. Some trails are not open to horses, so if you prefer to hike or trail run sans horses, check the trail map to see which trails are your best options. The higher elevation here gives this area a much different feel than most hiking hotspots, so this is one to try if you are looking for something different with a more forest-like atmosphere. In fact, this is one of the few parks in the county where you can hike in snow during the winter or even break out those snowshoes you never use since you moved to San Diego.

Trails here include a .5-mile, self-guided nature trail that is good for the whole family, the 1.65-mile Canyon Oak Trail, the more challenging, 2.25-mile Desert View Trail, the one-mile Potter Loop Trail, the .5-mile Fern Trail, and the 5,75-mile Kelly Ditch Trail, which you can take to Lake Cuyamaca. Leashed dogs are allowed in the park and on the trails; they are just not allowed in the cabins or cabin area.

The park also has a campground, so there are restrooms, showers and plenty of parking. There is a $3.00 parking fee for day-use visitors. You can pick up a trail map when you arrive at the park, or you can check out this one to help you plan your visit.

  • 4945 Heise Park Road, Julian
  • Hours: 9:30am to Sunset (for day use, camping also available)

157. Cuyamaca Rancho State Park Trails

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park has 24,700 acres with meadows, forests, historic sites, a visitor center with exhibits and more than 100 miles of hiking, riding and biking trails. One of the most popular hikes here is the Stonewall Peak Trail, which is a moderate-to-difficult, two-mile hike to Stonewall Peak. Although it is just two miles in length, the trail climbs 900 feet in that short distance, which makes all of the switchbacks a welcome feature. Once you reach the top, views include the site of a historic mine.

The 3.5-mile Lookout Fire Road Trail that delivers you to the summit of Cuyumaca Peak is another popular option and rewards hikers and trail runners with some great views that reach from the desert to the ocean. There is also the self-guided Paso Picacho Nature Trail and the strenuous, nine-mile trek up the Harvey Moore Trail.

With more than 100 miles of trails at your disposal, you should definitely stop by the visitor center to pick up a map and ask for recommendations regarding which trails will best suit your party’s fitness level and desired hiking experience. You can also print this trail map to help plan your trip.

There is a $10.00 fee per vehicle for day use. Dogs are not allowed in the park.

  • 13652 Highway 79, Julian
  • Hours: Dawn to Dusk

158. Old Banner Toll Road Trail

The Old Banner Toll Road Trail gives you the opportunity to get in a hike and a local history lesson all in one afternoon. You will find the trailhead at the end of Woodland Road, but it might look like you are not supposed to enter, since there is a sign that notes that this is a private road. Once you go a short way past this sign, there will be other roads with private road signs, but you will notice that the one on the left also has a sign that says “trail.” This is the road you want to take.

Near the trailhead, take the time to read the sign that tells the story of the old toll road before you head out on your hike. Knowing the history of this historic road is sure to make your walking or trail running experience more enjoyable as you take in the views and see what is left of the Warlock Mine. Keep an eye out for a picture posted along the trail to get a glimpse of what the mine looked like before a 2002 fire came through the area. While you are hiking, you are going to see a couple of openings for mines. You may be tempted to explore them, but keep in mind that exploring old mines is a dangerous venture, and they are better left undisturbed.

Although the old toll road goes on for miles, hikers and equestrians can only go as far as Warlock Mine before they must turn around. You will see the “No Trespassing” signs that indicate this. Overall, this moderate, out-and-back trail is just over three miles round trip.

  • Woodland Road, Julian
  • Hours: Open Daily

159. Santa Ysabel Preserve East

The Santa Ysabel Preserve is divided into two sections, which are known as Santa Ysabel Preserve East and Santa Ysabel Preserve West. Santa Ysabel Preserve East has two trailheads with one located at each end of this section of the preserve. From the western trailhead on Highway 79, you can access the West Vista Loop Trail, which connects to the Coast Crest Trail. For a point-to-point hike, you can then take the Coast to Crest Trail to the Kanaka Loop Trail, which will deliver you to the staging area on Farmer Road. Alternatively, you can start at the staging area on Farmer Road and end at the Highway 79 trailhead by reversing this course. A point-to-point hike between these two trailheads is about 7.4 miles, if you take the most direct route.

From the Farmer Road staging area, you can also take the moderate, seven-mile round trip Kanaka Loop Trail, and from the Highway 79 trailhead, you can do the 4.4-mile West Vista Loop Trail. Regardless of your trail choice, this preserve has a lot of grasslands and you are very likely to see cattle grazing off the side of the trail while you are hiking or trail running.

Leashed dogs are welcome on the trails. You can pick up a trail map at kiosks at the trailheads or print this one before you head out for your hike.

  • Santa Ysabel East Staging Area: 500 Farmer Road, Julian
  • Highway 79 Staging Area: 23000 Highway 79, Santa Ysabel
  • Pedestrian Access Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Vehicle Access Hours: 8:00am to Sunset

SANTA YSABEL

160. Santa Ysabel Preserve West

The county is working on purchasing land to connect the two sections of Santa Ysabel Preserve but, for now, they remain two separate areas with their own trailheads. The staging area for Santa Ysabel Preserve West is located on Highway 78 and has a parking area that opens at 8:00am. From this trailhead, you can access the Lower Creek Trail, which takes you 1.84 miles into the preserve to meet up with the .61-mile Ridge Trail and the .86-mile Upper Creek Trail. These two trails connect with the Coast to Crest Trail to form a 1.87-mile loop that takes you back to the Lower Creek Trail to head back to your car. Overall, this hike is moderate with some difficult sections.

Leashed dogs are allowed in the preserve, and you may come across mountain bikers sharing the trails with you. There is a portable restroom in the staging area, but the preserve does not have potable water. You can pick up a trail map at the trailhead, or print this map to bring with you.

  • Santa Ysabel West Staging Area: 29510 Highway 78, Santa Ysabel
  • Pedestrian Access Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Vehicle Access Hours: 8:00am to Sunset

161. Inaja Memorial Park Nature Trail

This easy, family-friendly, .5-mile loop trail may not be something you are going to drive miles to hike, but if you live in the area or are spending the day in Julian, it is worth a stop. The well-maintained trail offers beautiful views of the Santa Ysabel Valley and has a view finder that you can position to identify and view mountains in the area.

Inaja Memorial Park is in the Cleveland National Forest, so you will need an Adventure Pass to park here and take this leisurely stroll.

  • 30825 Julian Road, Santa Ysabel
  • Hours: Open Daily

162. Love Valley Trail

The Love Valley Trail is an easy, approximately two-mile, out-and-back trail with an old barn, a pond and views of Lake Henshaw. This is more like a stroll through a meadow than an actual hike, which makes it a particularly good choice for families or folks who are just getting started with hiking or trail running. Leashed dogs are allowed, so your best four-legged pal can join you on this one.

Love Valley is part of the Cleveland National Forest, so be sure to display your Adventure Pass when you park in the turnout near the trailhead.

  • East Grade Road (near the 3.3 mile marker), Santa Ysabel
  • Hours: Open Daily

WARNER SPRINGS

163. Pacific Crest Trail to Eagle Rock

This hike should be on every San Diego hikers list of must-do trails. While the 6.5-mile (out and back) trail, itself, is easy to moderate, goes through a lot of grasslands and may not seem as exciting as some of the other hiking options in North County, it is definitely worth the trip. First of all, you get to hike on part of the Pacific Crest Trail, which stretches from Mexico to Canada. Secondly, you are rewarded with the chance to see an amazing rock formation that really does look like an eagle.

Park in the gravel turnout across from the fire station, and then cross the street to find the trailhead.

  • Cal Fire Warner Springs Fire Station on Highway 79, Warner Springs
  • Hours: Open Daily

Do you know of any North County San Diego walking paths or hiking trails that should be included in this guide? If so, contact us here or comment below.

AJ Davis-Varela AJ is a freelance writer and blogger at Articles by AJ specializing in travel, real estate, natural wellness and green living. She is a magazine columnist, a former San Diego newspaper columnist, has been published in a variety of print and online publications, and regularly contributes to several websites and blogs. You can connect with AJ on LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+