Four Great Night Hikes in San Diego

A bright moon can light up the night more than you might imagine, and later summer sunsets draw out the twilight, making evening hikes an altogether enjoyable experience. It’s also a great way to escape after the heat of the day.

We invite you to take a moment to tune into your other senses once daylight starts to fade. Lots of wildlife stirs in the evening. Listen for croaking frogs and toads, chatty insects, and squeaky bats. Smell aromatic sages and find out what other botanical scents linger in the cooler, evening air.

Bring a flashlight or headlamp, but if you have the extra time, let your eyes get accustomed to the dark. It takes about 20-30 minutes for most folks, and you’ll see a lot more stars that way.

These are four trails The Nat’s Canyoneers recommend for evening hikes in San Diego County. Plan ahead: always check to see if the trail is open and be sure you’re prepared.

Anza-Borrego’s All-Access Trail
Summer days are often too hot for desert hikes, but at night it’s a whole other story. Bring a blacklight for some scorpion spotting, or take the time and let your eyes adjust to the dark to enjoy one of the best places in the state for night sky viewing. Learn more.

Kwaaymii Point
This easy hike is the perfect place to see mountains meld into desert during the day and come alive at dusk. With camping nearby, it’s a great star-gazing spot on the renowned Pacific Crest Trail. Landscape photographers will love catching the transition from sun-kissed landscape to star-studded sky.

Blue Sky Ecological Reserve
There are lots of ways to explore the reserve, and the riparian (river) corridor attracts all kinds of interesting wildlife. The reserve is open during daylight hours, but when the sun begins to dip down, the frogs come out and the chorus of croaks is worth it. Learn more.

San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve
Well known as an excellent birdwatching site, you might catch some interesting late-in-the-day bird behavior here. Burgeoning botanists can follow their nose along this short trail, with plenty of plants and the salt marsh providing a variety of subtle scents towards nightfall. Learn more.

These are our four fabulous evening hikes. On any evening hike, be on the lookout for crepuscular animals—meaning they’re most active at twilight—such as coyotes, nighthawks, and even some reptiles. Remember: be respectful of wildlife, our trails, and other hikers, and enjoy the incredible biodiversity San Diego County has to offer. If you really want to nerd out, take iNaturalist along. This app for your phone allows you to upload your nature finds and contribute to scientific research. For more information, visit our Community Science resources.

Looking for other trails to help beat the summer heat? Check out our 10 Great Hikes for Summer. Don’t want to hit the trails alone? The Canyoneers offer guided hikes from September through June. Feel free to join one when the new season launches in fall!

The Canyoneer program is made possible with support from dedicated volunteers and proud partner Subaru of America.

Posted by Stephania Villar, Digital Communications Manager .

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