Best hikes in San Diego

Best Hikes in San Diego for Fall and Winter

One of the many great things about San Diego is that fall and winter are still great hiking and walking weather, unencumbered by heavy snowfall or freezing temperatures. If you’re looking for ways to enjoy the great outdoors in sunny San Diego this fall and winter, we’ve rounded up some of the best hikes in San Diego of varying levels so that everyone can enjoy fresh air and exercise in the coming months. 


Note that the Black Oaks in San Diego, which turn from green to gold and orange in the autumn, reach their peak in early and mid-November. Higher elevations (5500′-6500′) usually peak first, followed by those on lower elevations (4000′-5500′).


Read on to discover some of the best hikes in San Diego and enjoy the beautiful trails only nature can offer!


Palomar Mountain State Park

Palomar Mountain is not only in excellent condition year-round but also has many trails for all levels of hikers, from novice to experienced. One of the recommended hikes is the steep Cedar Trail to Scott’s Cabin Trail to Chimney Flats Trail to Thunder Spring Trail. It’s rated moderately complex.


Volcan Mountain 

The County of San Diego manages this wilderness preserve on about 2,900 acres of mixed conifer forest. The summit has spectacular views from the desert to the coast. To summit, it’s about a 5-mile round trip, rated moderately difficult due to its steep inclines. The main trail is accessible for hikers, bikers, and equestrians. There are other beautiful trails to explore, such as the Five Oaks Trail. 


Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

This state park provides excellent winter hiking and beautiful views down to San Diego County. Cuyamaca sits at an elevation of 5,000 feet, making it closer to a four-season climate. The Stonewall Peak trail is nice and short, an excellent option for novice hikers. 


El Cajon Mountain (also known as El Capitan) 

One of San Diego’s most challenging hikes, El Cajon Mountain, is best traversed in winter. The time spent, about six hours, is worth it, offering stunning views of the San Diego valley. There are almost two thousand acres and over thirteen miles of hiking trails to explore in El Capitan County Preserve. Paradise Mountain and Rodriguez Peak are considered two of the best vantage points for beautiful views. 


Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve 

This is a 1,750-acre nature reserve overlooking the Pacific. The roughly eight trails provide easy hiking/biking for beginners and beautiful views. The Guy Fleming Trail, Parry Trail, and Razor Point Trail are all short and simple. They even have guided hikes! 


At Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups, we love taking care of our patients. Living healthy, well, and happy are core principles of our patient care. Get out there and stay active this fall and winter!

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