Southbound from I-5 take the 10th Avenue exit and turn left on "A" Street and left again on Park Blvd. Follow the signs to the park. From I-5 heading northbound take the Pershing Drive/B Street and then turn left on Florida Drive. Turn left on Zoo Place to Park Blvd then left on Park Blvd. Balboa park is a 1,200-acre urban cultural park. There are gardens, walking paths, several theaters, carousel, a miniature railroad, numerous museums, and the San Diego Zoo. There are also many gift shops and restaurants within the park.
Cabrillo National Monument
From Rosecrans Street, turn right onto Canon Street then left onto Catalina Blvd. Follow Catalina Blvd all the way to the entrance of the fee station, the park is open for day use only. The monument was established in 1913 and named after Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. It's an easy walk from the visitor center to the Cabrillo statue, Coast Defense Exhibit, Old Point Loma Lighthouse, and the Kelp Forest and Whale Overlook. The Baydside Trail is 2.5 miles roundtrip and descends about 300 feet through the native coastal sage scrub, passing remnants of the defense system that protected the harbour during World War I and II.
Point Loma Tidepools
Tidepools are depressions where water is trapped during low tides, forming small pools that provide habitat for plants, invertabrates, and fish. Look only, dont take or touch anything, even if you just moved something from one side of the pool to the other could kill it. All forms of life in the tidepools are protected by federal law and are policed by the park rangers.
Cedar Creek Falls
6 Miles RT-Strenuous
Drive to Pine Hills Road, which intersects Highway 78 about 1 mile west of Julian, and turn south. After 1.5 miles on Pine Hills Road, bear right on Eagle Peak Road. After 1.4 more miles, veer right again, staying on Eagle Peak Road. Next comes 8.2 miles of progressively poorer dirt road, parts of which become slippery and muddy in wet weather. At the end, you come to the Cedar Creek Falls Trailhead. Cedar Creek Falls is a spectacular waterfall plunging 80 feet into a large pool of water. The trails to Cedar Creek Falls lead hikers through the beautiful backcountry hills of eastern San Diego. Water levels at the falls vary substantially throughout the year. The falls typically do not run during the summer months when the pool at the base of the falls is stagnant and filled with algae. The trail starts out at a hill behind some homes and ends in an unexpected spot where there is a beautiful waterfall complete with swimming hole. This trail is not very difficult on the way to the waterfall, but watch out because it is easy to fall when going downhill. This is the perfect hike to do on a warm spring day because everything is so green and the flowers are blooming. There is nothing more satisfying than working up a sweat and being able to jump into a pool of water. Not only is there a waterfall, but there are also high ledges and a rope swing that you can jump off of. We took the lower trail, but I did notice that there was another trail that went higher up the mountain and leads to the top of the waterfall. RAMONA — The trail to Cedar Creek Falls in the Cleveland National Forest from the Ramona side, closed last year because of exploding popularity and overuse, will reopen this spring but under new, restrictive rules.
Hikers will be required to pay for daily visitor passes; the cliffs around the pool at the base of the falls will be off-limits; and the possession and consumption of alcohol in the area — at the San Diego River Gorge and Saddleback trailheads and along the San Diego River Gorge Trail and Eagle Peak Road trails that lead to the falls — will be strictly prohibited. The trail that begins in the San Diego Country Estates in southern Ramona was closed to the public in July 2011, for several reasons all related to overuse, said Cleveland National Forest spokesman Brian Harris. The falls in recent years — due partly to social media networking — had become as much a party destination as a hiking destination. Often hundreds of cars would line the streets around the trailhead’s parking lot, which has only 29 spots. The situation angered Country Estate residents. Trash would often be left behind, and unauthorized trails were being created by all the people, causing environmental damage.
Safety also became an issue. The number of rescues having to be carried out along the trail had skyrocketed as unprepared hikers wearing inappropriate clothing and drinking beer rather than water would fail to appreciate the difficult climb back up to their cars and become overheated. And there had been a number of deaths at the falls over the years, often caused by people jumping or slipping from rocks above the pool. “It was really just the overuse of the area in addition to degradation of our natural resources out there,” that led to the new rules, Harris said. “Many of the visitors that were using the area were also consuming a fair amount of alcohol at the same time. We really feel that just the hike down there is hazardous enough that you need to be physically and mentally prepared and the use of alcohol in trying to make that hike to the falls is just not a good combination.” A plan to deal with the overuse of the Cedar Creek trails had been under development for several years. Then on July 6, 2011, a 16-year-old boy from El Cajon died when he fell from a cliff. The trails were shut down a few days later until a full plan could be implemented. The permit system and closures are scheduled to begin in early April. Until then the trail from the Ramona side will remain closed. Hikers now can access the Falls from the eastern side of Eagle Peak Road. That area was reopened earlier this year but is far less accessible. The online permit reservation system has not yet been implemented, Harris said, and the details are still being worked out. Initially 75 visitor use permits for individuals or groups of up to five people will be available each day by reservation. Each permit will cost $6.
Cleveland National Forest
Cleveland National Forest is separated into three Park Ranger Districts. The Palomar District is in the northern part of San Diego County and surrounds Palomar Mountain and Palomar State Park. This area is the lesser used of the two districts since it is more remote from Downtown San Diego. You can access it from the two lane roadways (SR-76, SR-78, and SR-79). The Descanso District is in the southern part of San Diego County. It includes the popular Laguna Mountains and surrounds the southern portion of Cuyamaca State Park. This area of the Forest is easily accessible from highway I-8. Near the center of the two Districts is the historic town of Julian, a popular destination for tourists seeking to get away from the city and enjoy life in a remote mountain town. You will find hundreds of miles of trails through mountains and meadows. In many locations you can enjoy views of both the Pacific Ocean to the west (on a clear day) and the Anza Borrego Desert to the east, while standing on mountain tops that range well over 6,000 feet above sea level. The Palomar District is covered more with pine trees while the Descanso District has more oak trees.
Cuyamaca Ranch State Park
The park is located approximately 50 miles east of San Diego on Highway 79. It is 15 miles south of the quaint historical town of Julian. The park offers camping and hiking in an oak woodland forest, with a sprinkling of pines and lovely meadows with creeks. There are over 100 miles of trails which accommodate hikers, bikers, and equestrians. The two family camps, Paso Picacho and Green Valley, are open and on the reservation system spring through fall. Green Valley sits at an elevation of 4,000 feet and has a creek which runs through the middle of the campground. The day use area offers sets of cascades and shallow pools, great for water play on hot days. Green Valley has 81 campsites. Paso Picacho, 5 miles north, sits at an elevation of 5,000 feet. The most popular hikes start from this camp, including the 2 mile hike up Stonewall Peak (elevation 5,700 feet), and the 3.5 mile hike up Cuyamaca Peak (elevation 6,512 feet), both which offer breathtaking views of the deserts to the east, the coast to the west, and Lake Cuyamaca at the bottom. Lake Cuyamaca, operated by the Helix Water District, is two miles north of Paso Picacho and offers boating and fishing. Paso Picacho campground has 85 campsites. Each campsite has a picnic table and a fire ring. Restrooms with flush toilets and pay showers are in the campground. Water faucets a located every few campsites. There are no hookups. Each campground has a dump station. Firewood may be purchased at the camps. Interpretive programs are offered during the summer season. Campsites are $30 per night. Reservations are necessary for weekends April through October. The camping fee includes one motorized vehicle. Extra vehicles are $8 per night. There is a limit of 8 persons per campsite. Dogs are allowed but are restricted to the campgrounds, picnic areas, and paved roads and Cuyamaca Peak Fire Road. They may not be left unattended. Reservations may be made through Reserve America at 1-800-444-PARK.
Daley Ranch is located in the northeastern portion of the City of Escondido, north of Dixon Lake and west of Valley Center Road. Access is provided via La Honda Drive to the south, Valley Center Road to the east, and Cougar Pass Road to the west. The main entrance is at the southernmost part of the property, just north of Dixon Lake at the top of La Honda Drive. Parking is available at the La Honda Drive entrance and within the adjacent Dixon Lake Recreation Area. The entrance to the northernmost part of the property is along the unimproved Cougar Pass Road, 0.5 miles south of Alps Way.
From Escondido – Go north on Broadway to Cougar Pass Road.
From Valley Center – Take Valley Center Road south approximately ¼ mile and turn right at the Dixon Lake Filtration Plant access road.
Daley Ranch is a 3,058-acre conservation area acquired in 1996 by the City of Escondido and is managed in perpetuity for the preservation of a biologically unique and diverse habitat area of regional importance. 1.5 miles from the La Honda entry is the Daley Ranch House, a redwood barn, and numerous outbuildings of historical interest. Daley Ranch offers over 20 miles of multipurpose trails for hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian use. Six distinct trails cover most of the property. Most popular are the Boulder Loop Trail (2.4 miles) which affords outstanding views of Escondido, and the Ranch House Loop (2.5 miles), which passes two small ponds and the site of Daley's original log cabin.
Double Peak Trail
5 Miles RT
To access the trailhead, start at Lakeview Park off Foxhall in Discovery Hills. Cross the spillway bridge and the Discovery Lake Dam, and head up the paved road that winds up the hill through the new development on a soft-surface trail, crossing the street at Via Vera Cruz, passing between the houses and up to a large water tank (about 3/4 mile). A soft surface trail begins at the end of the paved road just to the left of the water tank. Follow the Double Peak Trail Sign. About 1/2 mile watch on the right for another "Double Peak" trail marker, turn right and follow the trail to the ridge. Go left on the ridge and watch for further trail markers.
El Cajon Mountain
From San Diego: Take I-8 East to Lake Jennings Road. Turn left and head North. After 3 miles, you'll arrive at El Monte Road. Turn right and head east for 3 miles. Near the end of the road, there is a sign on your left marked "No Camping, No Fires". This is the trailhead. There is a few parking spots right here. You know you've gone too far when/if you reach the El Capitan Reservoir entrance. FOR THE CLASS 1 hike - Take Interstate 8 East to Highway 67 North. another 6.2 miles north and turn off on Willow. Go east on Willow 9/10 mile and turn left on Wildcat Canyon Road. After 3.4 miles find the small parking area on the right. There is no parking farther up the gravel road. Everything ranging from a easy Class 1 hike to a Class 3 scramble to a large 5.11 wall is found here, and is a jewel for climbers. However, the fact that the mountain is nearly completely surrounded by either private property or an Indian Reservation, the trailhead is difficult to find, the valley below is often quite hot, and there is little or no vegetation, all contribute to this being a rarely-if-ever climbed mountain for locals. The wonderful views from the top ( the Ocean to the West, mountains to the East, Mexico to the South) combined with great exposure, make it worthwhile. Don't underestimate this climb. Though the mountain is only 3675 ft high, there is plenty of elevation gain. The El Cajon Mtn trail has almost 4,000 feet with the ups and downs of the trail. The South Arete climbs 3000 feet in less than 2 miles.
Take I-15 to the Clairemont Mesa Blvd. exit. Proceed east on Clairemont Mesa Blvd. to the end of the street, 2.8 miles. The trailhead is on the east side of the parking lot.
From Route 52 take Santo Road exit. Proceed south on Santo Road to Clairemont Mesa Blvd., turn left. Proceed east on Clairemont Mesa Blvd. to the end of the street, 1.7 miles. The trailhead is on the east side of the parking lot.
This peak has incredible views ranging from Mexico to the South, the Laguna Mountains to the East, Mt. San Jacinto to the North and the Coronado Islands and Pacific Ocean to the West. It can be climbed in an hour from the base, but most hikers enjoy approaching from the waterfalls and creek crossings of Oak Canyon.
Fortuna Loop: From the Jackson Drive trailhead, start North toward the obvious River canyon ahead. The River crossing may be too difficult during particularly bad downpours, but is usually no problem to cross. Continue up the trail to a fork and head to the right. You will see a sign pointing the way to Fortuna, but an optional way is to take a more exhilarating trip down Suycott Wash and up the steep ascent to South Fortuna. The trail then leads to a saddle and Fortuna can be climbed from here. Total distance from trailhead to the summit is approximately 3.2 miles. Proceed down the North Side of the Mountain to another fork and turn right. This will lead you to Oak Canyon. Continue through Oak Canyon until you reach the Old Mission Dam, and join the Junipero Serra Trail. This trail will lead you to the Visitor Center. Take the Visitor Center Loop for a mile and you will be back at the Jackson Drive trailhead. Total distance for the loop: 9.6 miles with 2,600 feet of elevation gain/loss.
6.4 Miles RT-Moderate
The trailhead is located on Highway 67 and Poway Road. On the east side of the road. There is a small gravel parking area on the side of the highway. This is a great nature hike within the city limits. There are many children attempting this hike in the early afternoons. The best feature of this hike is the views of North San Diego County form the trail. At the peak you are rewarded views of all of San Diego County.
Lake Poway to Mt Woodson
6.4 Miles RT-BD-H-Strenuous
From Espola Road go to the Lake Poway entrance. The fee is $4.00 for all day. The lake and park are very clean and a well maintained. Take the lake trail to the east side where the trailhead is clearly marked about .5 mile from the dock going counter clockwise around the lake. The trail is very steep and narrow in some places. The views from the peak are worth the effort. There is an easier way to the top, via highway 67. The alternate route is paved and well maintained.
Liberty Station is a multi-use development on the site of the former Naval Training Center. It is located in the Point Loma community of San Diego. From Downtown head north on N. Harbour Drive, drive past the airport and turn right on Lanning Road. Turn right on Historic Decatur Rd. The park here is well maintained and has some nice dirt trails along the water along with a paved path. To cool of there is Stone Brewing or the Corvette Diner located nearby.
Los Penasquitos Canyon
Exit 15 Freeway on Mira Mesa Blvd. Head west and make a right on Black Mountain Rd. Follow it north and take a left on Canyonside Rd. There is plenty of parking and the area is generally safe. You can take this hike all the way down to the 805 freeway. You zigzag over a little river and the scenery changes dramatically the closer you get to the ocean. My favorite part about this hike is the waterfall. It is about half way down the trail and sort of tucked away. You can miss it if you’re not paying attention.
Mission Trails Regional Park
From Interstate 8 – Take Interstate 8 to the Mission Gorge Road/Fairmount Avenue exit. Turn north onto Mission Gorge Road and proceed for 4.2 miles. When you pass the Jackson Drive intersection, move into the left lane. Look for the large wooden Mission Trails Regional Park sign on the left side of the road, and turn left onto Father Junipero Serra Trail. The entrance to the Visitor Center parking lot is on the left, just before the pipe gate, off Father Junipero Serra Trail.
From Highway 52 -Take the Mast Blvd. exit. Driving from the west, turn left onto Mast Blvd., go under the freeway to the second traffic signal at West Hills Parkway, and turn right. Driving from the east, turn right onto Mast Blvd. and turn right at the first traffic signal onto West Hills Parkway. Continue 2/3 mile to Mission Gorge Rd. and turn right. Proceed south on Mission Gorge Road for 2.4 miles. Look for the large wooden Mission Trails Regional Park sign on the right side of the road, and turn right onto Father Junipero Serra Trail. The entrance to the Visitor Center parking lot is on the left, just before the pipe gate, off Father Junipero Serra Trail.
From Highway 125 – Take 125 north to Mission Gorge Road and turn left. Proceed west on Mission Gorge Road for 3.7 miles, staying left at the merge past the east Father Junipero Serra Trail entrance. After you pass the light at Golfcrest Drive, look for the large wooden Mission Trails Regional Park sign on the right side of the road, and turn right onto Father Junipero Serra Trail. The entrance to the Visitor Center parking lot is on the left, just before the pipe gate, off Father Junipero Serra Trail.
From Route 15 - Take 15 to the Friars Road exit and proceed east on Friars Road, which changes into Mission Gorge Road, for approximately 4.2 miles. After you pass the light at Jackson Drive, turn left onto Father Junipero Serra Trail. The entrance to the Visitor Center parking lot is on the left, just before the pipe gate, off Father Junipero Serra Trail.
Cowles MountainFrom I-8 take the College Avenue exit. Proceed north on College Avenue 1 mile to Navajo Road. Turn right and proceed on Navajo Road 1.9 miles to Golfcrest Drive. Turn left on Golfcrest Drive to enter parking lot.
3 Miles RT
From Route 52 - Take the Mast Blvd. exit in Santee. Driving east, turn left onto Mast Blvd., go under the freeway to the first traffic signal (West Hills Parkway) and turn right. Driving west, turn right onto Mast Blvd. and right onto West Hills Parkway. Take West Hills Parkway to Mission Gorge Road and turn right. Proceed down Mission Gorge Road 1.9 miles to Golfcrest Drive. Turn left onto Golfcrest Drive and proceed to the top of the hill. The staging area is on the left at the intersection of Navajo Road and Golfcrest Drive.
From Route 125 - Take 125 north to Mission Gorge Road. Exit at Mission Gorge Road and make a left. Proceed down Mission Gorge Road 3.3 miles to Golfcrest Drive. Turn left onto Golfcrest Drive and proceed 1 mile to the top of the hill. The staging area is on the left at the intersection of Navajo Road and Golfcrest Drive.
The trailhead is easy to find within the Observatory Campground, and the trail itself is clearly defined throughout. A spectacular view of Mendenhall Valley is offered from an observation platform within a half-mile of the start, and wildflowers are profuse during the months late in the spring. At trail's end (after slightly more than 2 miles), one can continue up to the Palomar Observatory just to the right of the trail's end and visit the 200-inch Hale Telescope or retrace your steps back to the campground.
4 Miles RT
From Interstate 15, near Fallbrook, drive twenty-one miles east on Highway 76. Turn north on Road S6 (South Grade Road), continue 6.5 miles to the junction with Road S7, then continue 3 miles north along Road S6 to the Observatory Campground. The trailhead is easy to find within the Observatory Campground (Forest Service Adventure Pass required to park here), and the trail itself is clearly defined throughout. A spectacular view of Mendenhall Valley is offered from an observation platform within a half-mile of the start. At the trail's end (after slightly more than 2 miles), one can continue up to the Palomar Observatory just to the right of the trail's end and visit the 200-inch Hale Telescope.
Scripps Coastal Reserve
Located immediately west of the main campus and directly adjacent to Scripps Instutution of Oceanography, The Scripps Coastal Reserve provides excellent opportunities to examine the dramatic land-sea interface in Southern California. The reserve's rugged coastal bluffs plummet 328 feet to the ocean surface. From there, the marine portion of the reserve plunges to a depth of 745 feet below sea level into the tributaries of the Scripps and La Jolla submarine canyons. The Scripps Pier juts 1,050 feet into the Pacific Ocean, providing access to rich, deep, underwater habitats.
7.5 Miles RT
Seaport Village is a waterfront shopping and dining complex located at 849 West Harbor Drive, at the intersection of Harbor Drive and Kettner. There are over 70 shops, galleries and eateries on 90,000 square feet of waterfront property. The paved path along the San Diego Bay is 7.5 miles round trip.
Sunset Cliffs Beach Walk
Ocean Front St and Sunset Blvd. Named for its sunset vistas this hike is best done in the late afternoon. The rugged coastline and steep cliffs are breathtaking. This area has been well preserved and retains its natural beauty. The weekends can get a little busy.
Tecolate Canyon Natural Park
Located in a narrow coastal valley running in a generally north-south direction. It divides, by its southern half, the communities of Clairemont and Linda Vista and, by its northern half, the west and east areas of Clairemont. The mouth of the canyon is located 1 mile north of the San Diego River and is crossed by I-5 at the intersection with Tecolote Road. Its northern tip nearly reaches Clairemont Mesa Blvd. at the North Clairemont Recreation Center. Genesee Avenue forms the Tecolote Canyon Natural Park eastern boundary. The western park boundary is the top of the steep slope parallel to Clairemont Drive and Cowley Way and the mouth of the canyon at the Tecolote Recreation Center.
Torrey Pines Gliderport/Black's Beach/Ho Chi Minh Trail
From I-5 North take exit 29 for Genesee Ave. Use the left 2 lanes to turn left onto Genesee Ave. Then use the left 2 lanes to turn left onto N Torrey Pines Rd. Turn right onto Torrey Pines Scenic Dr for .4 mile to Torrey Pines Gliderport. From the parking lot you can get access to Ho Chi Minh Trail and Black's Beach. Black's Beach is only about .3 mile from the parking lot.
Torrey Pines State Reserve
Located just north of La Jolla, the Razor Point and Yucca Point trails are relatively short and can be enjoyed by anyone. The two paths share the same trailhead, and both offer views overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Only one will get you to the beach though, and that’s the Yucca Point trail, which has an elevation change of about 200 feet.
William Heise County Park
From the junction of Highway 79 & Pine Hills Road (1 mile west of the town of Julian), head 2 miles south on Pine Hills Rd. to Frisius Rd., then head east for 2 miles. Situated 4,200 feet above sea level in a forest of pines and oaks along the northern extremity of the Laguna Mountain Range, this 929-acre park is one of the few county parks to get snowfall each year. Forests of oak, pine, and cedar surround peaceful mountain meadows and provide an undisturbed setting for miles of scenic hiking and equestrian trails. Mule deer and wild turkey are frequently seen throughout the park, and rare residents include bobcats and mountain lions.