San Diego is undoubtedly popular for its fish tacos, surfing scene, and sunny climate. It’s also home to a range of classic Southern California hikes, with some of the best coastal trails in the state. Here are a few easy and short jaunts overlooking the Pacific, which are perfect for novice hikers.
Borrego Palm Canyon Trail
Located in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the Borrego Palm Canyon trail is arguably one of the most unnoticed hikes in all San Diego. Around 90 minutes away from the main city, this 3.2-mile easy loop-styled hike ascends 450 feet to a small sheltered area with rocky vistas and a peaceful desert. Although the terrain is quite manageable, it’s better to bring along a map for trouble-free navigation.
Point Loma Tide Pools and Coastal Trail
This 1-mile coastal trail in San Diego takes enthusiastic adventurers down the Pacific coast, offering a chance to explore the ocean tideline for snails, shore crabs, and seaweed. This out-and-back type of trail features an elevation gain of 121 feet. The trail is kid-friendly and dog-friendly, and also a haven for swimmers, especially for those enthusiastic to explore tide pools. The only downside of this trail is that it comes with a relatively high parking fee of $15.
Tijuana Estuary Trail
The Tijuana River County Open Space Preserve is a special wetland habitat in San Diego, which is home to beavers and American avocets, large wading birds with blue legs and a pink neck. This 4.6-mile out-and-back style walk offers a range of recreational opportunities and also allows explorers to experience an abundance of wildlife. Located near Imperial Beach, this relatively easy trail stays open all year round. Due to its flat nature with just 45 feet of elevation gain, most bikers and hikers can complete the entire trail in around one and a half hours.
Torrey Pines Beach Trail
This particular trail is a terrific pick for those looking for a smooth but satisfying beach hike. Located near Del Mar in San Diego, the loop trail follows the Pacific coastline for 2.3 miles, with 364 feet of elevation gain. This popular trail goes past the Torrey pine, the rarest pine tree in the country. Start early in the morning to hitch a sought-after free parking spot and to avoid too much sun exposure. If you miss the free spot, the trailhead lot right next to it is a range of $15-$25. There are also plenty of other hiking trails throughout the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve for those enthusiasts willing to extend their hikes.
Los Peñasquitos Canyon Trail
This desert trail in San Diego is perfect for hikers looking for something different from the hardcore coastal scene. Situated just half an hour north of downtown San Diego, the trail takes hikers down an expansive path, a section of which leads to a scenic waterfall. This pet-friendly and kid-friendly trail is relatively manageable for hikers of all ability levels and can be completed in around three hours. The loop trail features an elevation gain of 157 feet over 6.8 miles.