From the ocean to the sea, San Diego County has so many different hiking options. There are countless coastal trails, numerous valley hikes, and even mountain routes that can feature a wonderful winter playground. These following trails are the ten most popular hikes in San Diego County.

Top San Diego County Trails To Try In 2020

Lake Calavera, Calavera Nature Preserve, Calavera Trail, Carlsbad, San Diego

Lake Calavera and Volcano

It’s surprising to me that this place is the second most searched hiking trail in Southern California. Then again, there are only three extinct volcanoes in the region and this is one of them. The Calavera hiking trails are located in the City of Carslsbad in North County San Diego. There is also a small dam that makes a small lake here.

Palomar Mountain

There’s not much to hate about Palomar Mountain. This area in the northern section of San Diego County gets so much rainfall that the vegetation goes through a full four seasons here. From summer to winter, this mountain offers everything from snow filled trees to spring wildflowers.

Mount Woodson (Potato Chip Rock) via Lake Poway

Potato Chip Rock

This hike has earned its place among one of San Diego’s most popular hiking trails for years. The feature is a small sliver of granite rock that resembles a potato chip near the peak. Recently, this trail also became a part of the San Diego Six Pack of Peaks.

Los Penasquitos Canyon

Another year round option near the heart of San Diego is Los Penasquitos Canyon. This preserve features a year round creek. During the fall the trees put on a nice display of fall colors. The year round water makes a good opportunity to see some of San Diego’s larger wildlife like mule deer in the mornings. Halfway through the canyon is a small waterfall.

Olivenhain Dam via Way Up Trail

Olivenhain Dam

It’s surprising to me that this made the top ten most popular hikes. This under the radar trail in Escondido sits in the Elfin Forest Preserve. This hike starts out near a year round creek and culminates at the top of the surrounding hills. Nestled in the center of the hills is a dam that supports the local water supply.

Lake Miramar Hiking Trail Guide

Lake Miramar

Rising above the mesa’s of San Diego is a large man made reservoir with a five mile loop. In the heart of Scripps Ranch, this paved trail is great for families looking to get outside. The elevation of the hills and unobstructed views give make for some beautiful sunsets over the city.

El Cajoh Mountain Hiking Trail Guide

El Cajon Mountain

Meet one of San Diego’s most difficult hikes. This 11 plus mile trail features rolling hills. The hardest part about this trail is the roller coaster type trail. On this trail you’ll be going up on the way down as well. Also a recent addition to the Southern California Six Pack Of Peaks, this trail is best hiked before the warmer San Diego months.

Annie's Canyon Trail, San Elijo Lagoon, Solana Beach,

Annie’s Canyon

Think that it’s only necessary to get out to the desert or canyons of Utah to find a slot Canyon? Think again. This short trail is located in coastal northern San Diego County as a part of the San Elijo Ecological Reserve. The trail’s main feature is a small slot canyon carved into sandstone.

Monument Peak and Foster Point Loop Trail

Monument Peak and Foster Point

Mount Laguna has a lot to offer including these two gems. The trail up to Monument Peak culminates near the Mount Laguna Observatory and looking out towards Arizona. Just a short distance away, Foster Point looks out to the Anza-Borrego Desert.

corte madera hike

Corte Madera Peak

Claiming the last spot on this list is Corte Madera Peak. This peaceful trail winds through the southern portions of the Cleveland National Forest near Pine Valley. The granite rock formations have given it the nickname of “San Diego’s Yosemte.” While this trail is a far cry from Yosemite Valley, this trail is one of my favorite hikes in San Diego County.

This tops the list for the top trails to hike in San Diego County. Get out there and explore some of these trails if you haven’t already.

Editor’s note: List compiled from most visited trail guides on The Simple Hiker.