The rusty color shaded leaves fluttering in the wind, birds singing as they fly above, the smell of eucalyptus in the air, and the crunching of the leaves below your feet. Because this is how California hiking can be described. Enjoy these diverse, unique, and spectacular hiking trails in or around the San Diego area.
Hiking is one of my favorite things to do. And there is no better place to enjoy an outdoor hiking adventure than in the state of California. Because California can be dry most of the year, you may notice some of the waterfall trails to be dry.
These trails usually have more water flowing in the falls during the winter and springtime. This is because the rainy season can bring more moisture to the southern California areas. No matter what time of year however, the climate in southern California is perfect for all types of outdoor adventures.
Beautiful Hiking San Diego County
But some of these trails are not your average peaceful quiet hiking paths. And they are extra special with scary features and haunting myths about them. Explore these beautiful California hiking trails that include all the smells of autumn, amazing adventure, and spooky features!
Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve
This is an interestingly diverse little trail. At first it gives the impression that there is not much to it. But as you proceed on the trail, the route goes from dirt and mud to gravel then climbing up large boulders.
Continuing along the trail in this preserve, there is a burial spot of a Prince; John Joseph Eichar. Although several folks lived in this region at one time, he is the only known person to have been buried and lived here in the canyon.
Distance is 6.8 miles round trip, mostly flat route. However, the final distance includes climbing a few boulders. Once you make it to the top, you will see small waterfalls and very large boulders protruding from the earth. It is quite beautiful because the rock formations and boulders surround the small body of water.
Annie’s Canyon San Diego
Gorgeous and unique steep slot canyons, this very short hike is pretty amazing. They are so narrow, you must go through them only one way because there is no room to pass another person in the slots. There is an area where a steel ladder is installed and you’ll need to pull yourself up because this is the only way to complete this part of the trail. Once at the top, enjoy the pretty views. Distance is 2.2 miles and heavily trafficked.
Seasonal Themed Trails San Diego
Balboa Park Haunted Trail consists of a couple components. The eXperiment Maze is what you will encounter prior to reaching the main trail. This scary section consists of a dark winding maze with flashing probes and themed sections where you may encounter Jason Vorhees, Mike Myers, Freddie Krueger, and even Jack Torrence from The Shining.
Thrilling and Fun at The Haunted Trail San Diego
The Haunted Trail has been a San Diego Halloween tradition for several years now. Along the trail you will encounter several themed spooky spaces to experience while you wander through it. Each year there may be something different added to the themes.
The intense scenes from The Exorcist and several other scary sets that will have you jumping out of your shoes! Creepy clowns are roaming everywhere making it difficult to stay silent!
North County San Diego Hiking Trails
Boucher Hill Summit
On this trail is a sensational outdoor path to see the best of fall colors. Located at Palomar Mountain State Park, you will find the smell of autumn, colorful leaves and shrubs, and a little similarity to the Sierra Nevada landscapes.
Potato Chip Rock at Mt. Woodson
Hiking the trail at Mt. Woodson will get your heart pumping. Because much of it is at an incline. This trail has a couple different starting points, one is longer and the other is shorter but steeper. A popular spot on the trail is at a thin rock layer that looks like a potato chip. Distance at highway 67 trail head is 4.1 miles; the other trail head at Lake Poway is 7.3 miles round trip.
Iron Mountain North San Diego
Enjoy Iron Mountain both during the day hours as well as the night. This trail can be awesome to hike in the evening! Which is why we went hiking by the light of the moon. We enjoyed a moonlight hike one evening as we climbed our way up the trail with the help from the moon light and our head lamps.
Iron Mountain is just down the road from Potato Chip Rock trail and has some elevation climbs as well as some switchbacks. You will enjoy lovely views from the top as the distance on this trail is approximately 5.2 miles and 1102 elevation gain.
Three Sisters Falls in Pine Valley
An amazing hiking experience at Three Sisters Falls Trail consists of a beautiful trek. Because lots of trail diversity and lovely rolling hills. You will find this trail in the eastern area of San Diego County, in the Cleveland National Forest in California, Pine Valley. In my opinion, this is one of the best hikes in San Diego.
Now, you must realize that the entire trail takes you down hill, and that you will have incline hiking to return back up to the trail head. The drive out here is about 2 hours from San Diego and be prepared to drive on a very bumpy dirt road towards to trail head because no paved roads in this area.
There are portable potties but no other facilities. Please make sure to bring plenty of water, sunglasses, and sunscreen because there are no services like drinking water nearby. Distance of this trail is approximately 4.2 miles round trip.
Helpful Tip: You may want to travel in a 4×4 vehicle, jeep, or truck that sits a little higher because you’ll need it to drive on these very bumpy dirt roads prior to reaching this trail head.
Mystical Hiking Trails for Fall Hiking California
Bernardo Mountain Summit Trail makes for great nature settings, defined trail paths, and a picnic area to enjoy lunch. On this trail you must always be listening and watching for bikers. When you reach the summit, you will enjoy pretty views of Lake Hodges. Be aware there are some residential homes along some parts of the trail. The trail distance here is 7.2 miles round trip.
Spooky Outdoor Tales in North County San Diego
Elfin Forest Recreational Area is located nearby the large community of San Elijo Hills in North County nearby Escondido. This trail can get quite busy certain days of the week, so be sure to take caution. You might find bicycles using this trail as well. There are several large rocks and uneven pathways here so you should always be watching where you step. You will enjoy pretty views of Lake Hodges and flying wildlife above on this 4.7 mile trail.
Haunted places in San Diego
Spooky legends in North County.This area among the rolling hills of San Marcos and Escondido are known to have ghostly myths told about it. Historical legends bring to light about this area being one of the most haunted regions in California. It is known to have paranormal influences occurring in the forests.
However, according to Nicole Strickland from the San Diego Paranormal Society, reveals that she has not seen or felt any type of abnormality in this particular area. She also mentions that people have said they feel a sense of looming doom while driving through this area at night.
Strickland performs dozens of research and observations of suspicious paranormal happenings around several regions of San Diego. Apparently, San Diego is one of the hot spots for this spirit spooky activity.
Mythical stories include spiritual presences, noises, and suspicious conversations in several spots and locations in the northern San Diego region. According to an article published in The San Diego Union Tribune, these places include Rancho Bueno Vista Adobe and the Avo Playhouse, Escondido Public Library, San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park, Julian Goldrush Hotel, Julian Pioneer Cemetery, and many others.
Hiking Trails in Joshua Tree National Park
Ryan Mountain Trail at Joshua Tree National Park is a beautiful yet somewhat moderately challenging hiking trail. Although it is only 3 miles round trip and 1,050 feet of elevation, I found myself huffing and puffing at certain times.
It is one of the highest peaks in the park. Ryan Mountain trail includes a vast diversity of foliage and desert shrubs that accompany you while enjoying the desert views. You will have to make about a 2.5 hour drive east of San Diego to Joshua Tree National Park.
Skull Rock Trail is another fun short beautiful walking trail to enjoy while visiting Joshua Tree National Park. You can scramble around and wander through the large boulder that is the shape of a skull.
Fun Tip: While enjoying a day of hiking at the park, you can return to the Palm Springs area and enjoy some delicious dining at Maracas Cantina! They have two locations in Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage and you will thank me later!
California offers such an amazing geographical location that makes it simply spectacular for all outdoor adventures. The weather, landscapes, and nature in the state offers such extraordinary outdoor activity opportunities. Hiking in the fall and anytime of the year can be exciting and exhilarating especially if you go wandering at night and do moonlight hikes!
If you are one to go thrill seeking for mystical outdoor adventures with a twist of eerie and the supernatural, then you will be captivated by these hiking adventures throughout the San Diego area!