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Hiking Spots to Check Out in San Diego

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San Diego weather is wonderfully mild and full of varied topography that makes it quite a premiere destination for hiking. With plenty of unique hiking opportunities that include coastal and mountain areas, here are some incredible spots you have to check out for your next adventure outdoors.

Torrey Pines State Reserve Loop – 2.4 mile round-trip – Easy 

Serving as a protective coastal ecological reserve in San Diego, Torrey Pines is home to some beautiful hiking. The park is open daily from 7:15 AM to sunset, with a general admission fee if you want to park within the reserve (otherwise there is street parking). The Loop is a relatively easy hike by most standards – there are some areas where you’ll be faced with a pretty steep incline, but that eventually gives way to fairly easy to traverse terrain, and the cool coastal air will definitely be much appreciated on a warm summer day. On the trail, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the Pacific and glimpses of the gorgeous Torrey Pine tree.

Cowles Mountain Backside Loop – 3-mile round trip loop – Intermediate 

Located northeast of downtown in Mission Trails Regional Park, the Cowles Mountain Loop is an incredibly popular trail that includes rolling hills, rocky valleys, and remarkable views. This loop will take you off the beaten path a bit, so you have a pretty good chance of skipping out on the crowds that are inevitably seen during the warmer months. The trail will culminate into incredible views of the Pacific ocean and the surrounding San Diego area. After taking in the view, the trail will lead you back to where you started. 

Batiquitos Lagoon Trail – 3.3 mile out and back – Easy 

Perfect for families looking for an easy hike, the Batugiogos Lagoon is an ecological reserve that makes for an easy yet rewarding outdoor experience. The landscape is home to marsh and upland plants, with tons of mudflats and coastal marshes. This trail runs along the north side of the lagoon, and features plenty of public parking along its length. Due to the shorter length and plenty of space to settle down for a picnic, this trail is perfect for a late afternoon stroll in the cooler evening air. 

Cuyamaca Peak – 5.4 mile out and back – Intermediate 

While a bit of a drive from the greater San Diego area, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is chock full of incredible hiking trails for the beginner to intermediate experiences hiker. The hike to Cuyamaca Peak is one of the most popular at the park, and with a 5.5 mile length, it makes for a mildly challenging hike. Shade is limited along the trail, so be sure to bring plenty of water if you’re going during a warmer part of the day. Once you reach the peak, you’ll be treated to gorgeous views of the ocean to the west, and Lake Cuyamaca right below you. 

Potato Chip Rock – 7.1 miles out and back – Advanced 

Located in Lake Poway Park, the Potato Chip Rock Trail has been a favorite among San Diegans for its iconic photo opportunity. The trail begins at the Lake Poway Staging Area on the west side of Lake Poway. The trail will have you traveling through the foothills around the lake as you are treated with ever-increasing stunning views of the rocky hillsides. The hike is quite challenging at some parts, with a 3-mile stretch of incline with very little shade. Near the summit, you’ll come across the unique rock formations that give the hike its namesake. Be sure to take plenty of pictures to document you dominating the Potato Chip Rock hike! 

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