This summer, scout out some new trails with help from the Canyoneers, Museum-trained naturalists and volunteer trail guides.
The sun shines bright, and all that daylight generally means trails are open longer and more people are out and about. It can also get pretty hot on the trails. Fortunately, there are plenty of places to enjoy nature and escape both the heat and tourist crunch zones. So fill up your reusable water bottle and get ready for some chill hikes.
Of course, before heading out, check to see if the trail is open to the public, and be sure you’re prepared. We hope you find a new trail to love or an old favorite to appreciate once again.
Blue Sky Ecological Reserve
Plenty of shade along this oak canyon and riparian corridor invites you to stop and appreciate San Diego’s incredible mix of habitats and climatic conditions. The landscape alone is worth it, but be on the lookout for various plants and birds that live here, too. Learn more.
Carlsbad to Cardiff Beach Walk
This coastal walk is just off the tourist-beaten path and provides prime opportunities for all kinds of coastal bird watching. Explore at low tide and step carefully—take your time enjoying a variety of sea life at the ocean’s edge. Note: be sure to look up the tide times before you go to avoid getting stuck along the way. Learn more.
Chimney Flats Loop from Doane Pond
Old-growth trees, flowers, ponds, and a little waterfall: this delightful trail has it all. Up along Palomar Mountain, you’ll get stunning views and if you’re there early enough in the morning, you might spy all kinds of wildlife making their way through the forest. Learn more.
Encinitas Coastal Sage Scrub Trail
Ocean views and stunning sandstone cliffs aren’t the only highlights here. Many coastal sage plant communities are getting crowded out because of development, but you can still enjoy one along this out-and-back trail. Learn more.
Ernie Pantoja Memorial Trail
A hidden gem in the heart of Ramona, you’ll find shady woodlands that provide intermittent shade year-round, a stream-fed pond, and a lovely nature trail with lots of large native plants. There’s a campground here for you to make a weekend of it, too. Learn more.
Green Valley Falls Loop
A more popular summer hike, but with good reason. This trail winds between ponds and rock slabs, and gives you a spot to watch the Sweetwater River flow over boulders for a 15-foot drop. Keep an eye out for hawks and other birds and take a pause around the bird identification stations. Learn more.
Parry Grove Trail – Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
This short trail needs little introduction. One hundred eighteen steep, stone steps make up one of the original trails in the reserve. They will take you up to a viewpoint where you can observe the park and even see La Jolla Cove on clear days. Learn more.
San Dieguito Lagoon – Coast to Crest Trail
The lagoon is the current start of the Coast to Crest Trail that follows the river watershed for 71 miles. But this is just six miles of it. The waters from Volcan Mountain feed this lagoon, making for a gorgeous walk filled with birds, history, and if you’re lucky, fiddler crabs. Learn more.
Scripps Coastal Reserve
This short jaunt will give some stunning vistas of the Pacific Ocean as you stroll along bluffs and through the coastal sage scrub habitat. Along the way, you’ll observe some of the struggles between native and invasive species. Note: Hiking this trail requires a reservation with the Reserve's guides. Learn more.
Sunset and Big Laguna Loops
These mountains reach high enough for snowfall during winter, but with vast meadows, dense pine forests, and ponds, you’ll get a variety of sights to enjoy in summer. If you’re lucky on a clear day, you’ll even see the Pacific Ocean and downtown San Diego. Learn more.
Summer is warm and beautiful, so make sure you’re wearing plenty of sun protection and have lots of water with you. Be respectful of wildlife, our trails, and other hikers, and enjoy the incredible biodiversity the 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 on iNaturalist, visit our Community Science resources.
Posted by Stephania Villar, Digital Communications Manager.
Subscribe to our blog. Receive an email once a week that recaps the latest blog posts about our research, exhibitions, cool science news, and more