Seven hiking trails from the coastline to the mountains to help you get outside, enjoy some fresh air, and find fall colors throughout San Diego County.

Seven Hikes To Find Fall In San Diego

Generally speaking, fall in San Diego is known more for it’s persistent beach like weather than the oranges and yellows of fall colors. The early fall months are known for ushering in warm Santa Ana Conditions. The dry conditions and warm weather makes the region feel more like an extended summer than anything else.

Short from the many non-native trees which were artificially planted throughout the suburbs and city streets, natural fall colors can be hard to find. The good news is that fall can be found by any willing person throughout the county! The following trails are spread around the county and great areas to enjoy some of San Diego’s natural fall colors.

Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve, Los Penasquitos Creek waterfall

1. Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve

There are not too many hiking trails to go near the city that put in a fall display like Los Penasquitos Canyon. This canyon which is part of a larger preserve runs adjacent to highway 56. The area puts on a full display of fall colors along the creek that runs to the coast. If one is lucky they’ll catch the stream rushing after an early winter storm.

Boucher Trail and Palomar Mountain Loop

2. Palomar Mountain State Park

There’s no place in San Diego quite like Palomar Mountain. This area receives more annual rainfall than any place in the county. The cooler mountain conditions and abundant rainfall allow for some species of plants and trees that can put on a wonderful display of fall foliage.

3. Cuyamaca Peak

Cuyamaca Peak is San Diego’s second tallest peak. It is located in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. The trail leading up to the top will take hikers through oak and conifer forests. The cooler temperatures bring about scattered fall foliage along the trail.

One of the perks of trekking through this area is the phenomenal and expansive views of San Diego County. On a clear day one can easily see to the coast and all the way to the Salton Sea.

Garnet Peak hiking trail guide

4. Garnet Peak

Fall finally brings some much needed relief in terms of temperatures to the inland areas of San Diego. This time of year can have some of the clearest skies of the year. With cooler temperatures and clear skies, Garnet Peak is a perfect choice in seeing a 360 degree panoramic view of the mountains and deserts of San Diego County.

Oak Canyon, Hiking Trail, Mission Trails Regional Park

5. Oak Canyon

During most rain years, the the creek of Oak Canyon springs to during the winter months. The life giving water quenches the thirst of the oak and cottonwood trees that line this canyon. While the creek dries up by fall, the trees put on a nice display of oranges and yellows towards the later end of the season. Located in Mission Trails Regional Park, one of the perks to this trail is the proximity to the city.

Volcan Mountain Hiking Trail Guide

6. Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve

Sitting above the town of Julian, California is a beautiful range of peaks that includes Volcan Mountain. From the top are panoramic views of San Diego’s deserts, mountains, and valleys. Lined along the trail are various species of oak trees that change colors later in the fall season. This trail is a perfect excuse for a trip to indulge in some famous Julian apple pie.

Oakzanita Peak Hiking Trail Guide, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

7. Stonewall Peak

Also located in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is this popular trail. Stonewall Peak is an easier option than Cuyamaca Peak with just slightly less panoramic views. The trail is lined with California black oak that as the fall season gets underweight