4 Great Local Hiking Trails In San Diego

If you are lucky enough to live in the Southern California area, you have an over abundance of mountains and hiking trails to fill your days every weekend all year long. If you are on travel or a visitor, then you are in for an adventurous treat. What a privilege it is to have access to 4 great local hiking trails in San Diego!

Adventure Awaits

There are several activities to do in California as the climate and culture is conducive to so much activity even in your own back yard at times. Fortunately, in California, there are not really any bad days of weather, so you can basically go on an adventure anytime, any day of the year. I like to go on my hiking adventures on sunny warm days so that I can capture some of the best views and the brightest skies with my cameras.

Great Local Hiking Trails

Here are some great hiking trails that are full of beauty and challenge, yet low to moderate level hiking for those who might be novice.

1. Iron Mountian


Iron Mountain: 6 Miles Elevation 2601 feet

You’ll find this trail head to this beautiful mountain at the intersection of CA- 67 and Poway Road. On the day we hiked it, we had a cool and slightly windy, yet sunny day with a little bit of moisture haze.  The entrance to the trail contains an iron awning that you walk through on a dirt path, then it takes you through a tree tunnel to get your mind set for adventure.


You will continue upward and encounter several rocky switchbacks that lead you to a majestic 360 panoramic views. You can even see parts of downtown San Diego. Some of the hike can be challenging and you may find yourself huffing and puffing on parts of it, but the challenge to reach the summit and the end result is well worth every step!


2. Mount Woodson

Mt. Woodson: Backside Trail: 4.1 Miles Elevation 1220 feet
Mt. Woodson is probably one of the most popular of the 4 great local hiking trails in San Diego. We decided to hike the backside trail to see what Mt. Woodson was all about. Especially since we wanted to enjoy a more moderate level trail and not over do it for the weekend. This is a beautiful trail and even more spectacular with a gorgeous sunny afternoon too. Parking for this trail is actually along CA-67; and it can be busy so be careful and be patient in looking for space to park.

The trail begins with easy groomed walkways lined with shrubs and tree shadows. Then you will soon encounter steep inclinations as it reminded me of being on my stair stepper at the gym. I definitely experienced a little heavy breathing, but that’s my kind of workout.


Once you reach near the summit, you will see radio antenna equipment and towers. Just slightly past that area is the infamous Potato Chip Rock, and if you hike during the weekend you may encounter a waiting line to step onto the thin appearing but steady rock piece that looks like a potato chip. This trail receives a lot of visitors; both local and foreign.

3. Bernardo Mountain Summit

Bernardo Mountain Summit Hike: 7.1 Miles Elevation 872 feet


This is an interesting trail that includes a biking option and a walking/biking bridge that stretches across conservation areas. It has plenty of trees and creeks, as well as a picnic area with the sound of birds and water flow of a stream.  


Some areas of the trail flow at the lower crest of homes and properties. Some of the trail includes easy and smooth to lose rocks and gravel reaching to small tree and shrub tunnel paths. When you reach the summit, you will enjoy the beautiful views of Lake Hodges and tons of rolling hills and other mountains. You may also hear the sounds of speed boats in the distance.


4. Black Mountain Nighthawk Trail

Nighthawk Trail: 5.3 miles Elevation 1210 feet

This trail is located near and around the Black Mountain hiking trails and free parking is available at the Hilltop Community Park, as well as restrooms. This hike is scenic and somewhat noisier. Once you have hiked about a mile into the trail, the sounds from the freeways and park are far in the distance. I consider it a moderate hike with gradual switchbacks leading to the summit, however, much of the trail is comprised of lose rocks and can be a little tricky.

Take extra caution with every step to not twist an ankle or slip. You will also see areas of housing construction in the process in some of your views. But for the most part, the rolling hillsides and landscape are quite breathtaking.


The summit views are quite beautiful, be aware as you reach the top, however, there are large tower antennas and structures to pass. This hike is great for weekend wandering and exploration. 


If you are always searching for adventure and activities to fill your weekend or if you have visitors in town; these hikes are fantastic to explore! They have an easy to moderate level rating, and the trails offer spectacular views and interesting landscapes! Go out and enjoy these 4 great local hiking trails in San Diego today!

5 Comments on “4 Great Local Hiking Trails In San Diego

  1. Pingback: 2 For 1 Archaeological So Cal Hiking Trails * Coast to Crest

  2. Pingback: California Dreaming Series|San Diego

  3. You don’t lie when you say there are some great hikes here. I wouldn’t say no to having a photo on potato chip rock. Besides the cool scenery, what a great name.


    • Yup,.. some really cool hikes in the San Diego area. And… that Potato Chip Rock area is not the easiest to get onto… but it is really neat and beautiful up there! Thanks for checking it out!


  4. Pingback: 2 For 1 Archeological Trails | San Diego, California | Fit*Life*Travel

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