Annie’s Canyon Trail is a short and easy hiking trail within the San Elijo Lagoon in Solana Beach in San Diego County, California. The trail is well known for it’s coastal lagoon views as well as a rare coastal slot canyon

**Annie’s Canyon Trail Update**

The majority of  the San Eligo Lagoon Ecological Reserve is currently closed related to construction along Interstate 5. The only way to currently access Annie’s Canyon is through the North Rios trailhead. Due to the amount of rainfall this winter, the trail has had intermittent closures because of muddy conditions. Please check with the San Eligo Lagoon Conservancy for additional updates.**

Annie’s Canyon Trail

Annie’s Canyon Trail is a popular and easy hiking trail in a small city known as Solana Beach within San Diego County. The trail is made up out of the San Elijo Ecological Reserve – an area worth exploring in of itself. However, Annie’s Canyon is the Reserve’s crown jewel. The trail is known for a short and narrow slot canyon – something that’s more of a rarity along Southern California coastal trails. In recent year’s, this trail has become one of San Diego’s most popular coastal hiking trails. The trail also features a small set of mushroom shaped caves along the hike. Although, to be fair, they’re more of a mushroom shaped carving out of the hillside rather than a cave.  

Annie’s Canyon Trail History

The small slot canyon is pretty well concealed. Because of that, it was once prone to frequent vandalism.  However, Annie’s Canyon was restored and opened to the public in 2016. According to the San Elijo Ecological Reserve, the name was given in honor of a thirty-year resident of Solana Beach named, Annie. Annie was well known for her strong support of conservancy. San Elijo Lagoon actually makes up quite more than just the popular Annie’s Canyon Trail. Trails meander throughout the entire coastal lagoon. However, CalTrans currently involved in a widening project of Interstate-5 which runs bisects through the lagoon. The current construction means that you can’t hike East-West and vise-versa through the lagoon. That will change once the construction is complete.

Like many of Southern California’s coastal lagoons, this is an excellent area to view birds that frequent the marshlands as well as many migratory species. This small coastal habitat contains hundreds of plants, animals, and insects of both native and invasive species. Many of these are endangered. The San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy strives to ensure that the near one thousand acre ecological reserve making up Annie’s Canyon continues to be protect. Please check them out if you want more information.

Have you hiked this trail recently? Please share any trail updates/pictures in the comments below.

  • Overall Difficulty: 35% 35%
  • Overall Views: 60% 60%
Annie's Canyon Trail Quick Facts:
  • Elevation: 202 feet.Annie's Canyon Trail, San Diego, San Elijo Lagoon, San Elijo Ecological Reserve, Solana Beach
  • Elevation Gain: 187feet.
  • Estimated Distance: 1 mile.
  • My Actual Distance: 1.4 miles.
  • Estimated Time: 30-60 minutes.
  • My Time: 37:50 minutes. 
Annie's Canyon Trail Directions:
Open in maps. There are a few different ways to get to Annie’s Canyon. The directions in this trail description are for the North Rios Avenue trailhead. The other trailhead is via the Solana Hills access point. However, that trailhead is currently closed because of the current CalTrans construction on Interstate-5. The current construction also inhibits East-West trail traffic through the San Elijo Lagoon as well.

Parking is along the street on North Rios Avenue. Please be mindful that parking is along a street where people live with their families. Be respectful to the current neighborhood and act as if you had children that live there. Do not leave trash or drive like an imbecile.

If you have an update to the other trailheads to Annie’s Canyon, please leave an update in the comments.

Annie's Canyon Trail Pictures:
Who Annie's Canyon Trail Is For:
Novice Hikers: This trail is perfect for new hikers. The only difficult part of this trail is managing through the narrow canyon. Those with joint mobility problems combined with difficulty in lifting their own body weight might have difficulty with this part. However, if you go with a group of people, give it a try. It’s a very small distance and worth the view to check out.

Advanced Hikers: This is a wonderful stroll to check out some of San Diego’s coastal habitat and native wildlife.

Expert Hikers: Same.

It’s always a good idea to be aware of what type of hiking level you’re at.

Best Time Of Year To Hike Annie's Canyon:
Annie’s Canyon is generally a great hike all year long. The proximity of the Pacific Ocean and the effect that the local ocean temperatures have on the surrounding temperatures help to keep the temperatures of this trail moderate throughout the year. This trail is particularly good for some of San Diego’s hotter months during the summer and extremely hot Santa Ana events. Because of how close this trail is to the ocean and the relative ease of the trail, it’s a great summer option for those looking to get outside during hot weather. Those people who are sensitive to hot weather should use caution while hiking this trail during the hottest parts of the day during the summer and hot weather events.

According to the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, after periods of rain, the trail will be briefly closed for trail safety. This makes sense as the slot canyon is steep and could be slippery and muddy after storms. For that reason, after winter rains, give the trail a few days to try out. Instead, check out some of the other area hikes.

It’s always a great idea to check the weather before a hike.

Annie's Canyon Trail Conditions:
Annie’s Canyon trail is very well maintained. The San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy as well as the number of people frequenting the area help to keep the trail in good condition. The trail is moderately to heavily trafficked and made up of mostly loose sand and eroded sedimentary rock. The trail starts off near North Rios Avenue and continues down into the lagoon flats. Most of the trail is exposed to the sun. However, there are small portions of the trail that are shaded.

The trail continues about three-quarters of a mile where the hike takes a turn to the right and begins to travel up out of the lagoon. Here the trail splits off to the left and to the right. Annie’s Canyon is actually a loop off of the main trail and both of these forks lead to the Canyon. I recommend taking the trail to the right. Taking the trail to the right will lead up Annie’s Canyon as opposed to taking the trail and going to the left.

Annie’s Canyon itself is probably just two to three feet across at its narrowest points. Some parts of Annie’s Canyon aren’t necessarily steep, but will require you to pull your body weight up. I personally find it easier to pull myself up through the canyon than navigate down. If you’re the opposite, take the trail to the left and navigate through the slot canyon by hiking down instead of up. I also personally liked walking into the canyon and looking up at the walls of Annie’s Canyon. To get my fix of seeing views the other way, I took a moment and looked down into the canyon.

Dogs are allowed on the trail as long as they are on a leash no longer than six feet. Please be aware that rattlesnakes are common in this area. There is no poison oak along the trail.