San Diego’s Most Underrated Hikes

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How many times have you fought for a parking spot to hike Torrey Pines or conquered Mt. Woodsen Trail for the perfect Instagram photo on top of Potato Chip Rock? Probably more than once and it’s the perfect time of year to explore the other incredible hikes San Diego has to offer! It’s time to give some credit to some of San Diego County’s lesser-known hikes so next weekend try exploring one of these hidden gems.

Cedar Creek Falls (Devil’s Punchbowl)
Distance: 6miCedar Creek Falls - Devil's Punchbowl

Okay, maybe you have heard of this one BUT there’s no better time than now to cross this one of your list! The heavy rains this winter have guaranteed the waterfall will be in full effect and spring is the best time to avoid getting overheated on this 6 mile round trip trail. Make sure to head out early enough (especially if you’re bringing along any pets!) and pack a lunch to enjoy by the fresh water pool. Also, carry more water than you think you’ll need, because you WILL need it, and don’t forget to register ahead of time for a visitors permit.

Ho Chin Minh Trail
Distance: 2.4 miHo Chin Minh Trail in San Diego

Don’t let the distance of just 2.4 miles fool you, this trail is recommended for the more experienced and adventurous hikers out there. The narrow paths and steep edges can be intimidating but it’s worth it for the breathtaking views once you reach Blacks Beach. Google Maps will take you to a residential street and you’ll think you’re totally lost but just keep an eye out for the discreet trailhead between two fences. Careful not to hike this one after rainfall, it can get slippery!

Cuyamaca Peak Loop
Distance: 6.3

As the second highest point in San Diego, Cuyamaca Peak features incredible views from the Salton Sea to Mexico. Park at Paso Picacho Campground for only $8 and take the paved road up the mountain. Your legs are definitely going to feel this one as it’s mostly a steady incline up to the peak, so bring lots of water and make sure to cover up with sunscreen. This trail is pet-friendly and has a coupled different route options so you can come back to explore more than once!

Annie’s Canyon Trail
Distance: 4 mi

This trail is also known as the Mushroom Caves because it leads to some pretty awesome hidden caves as you’re heading up towards the viewpoint. Although this isn’t the longest or most strenuous of hikes it can turn into a rock climbing adventure as you’re navigating the thin passages leading up to the incredible views of the beach and city of Encinitas. This is another dog-friendly trail and I highly recommend hiking it in the early evening to enjoy the sunset at the top of the caves.

Photo Cred:
San Diego Hikers Association
All Trails
The Outbound Collective