Best Spots in San Diego to Hike After Dark

Hiking in the dark may sound like a scary proposition at first, but as the nights get warmer, it’s the perfect opportunity to see San Diego in a whole new light. There are several night-friendly hikes around town, and you may be surprised by how many people you run into stargazing on the trails after dark.

Remember that safety should always be your top priority, whether hiking day or night. In addition, bring water (even at night) to stay hydrated, bug repellent, a first aid kit, and a flashlight, and you’ll be ready to create a memorable summer night full of spectacular views.


Here are a few night hikes in San Diego where you can experience nature in a completely different way!


Cowles Mountain

This out-and-back trail offers magnificent 360 views of San Diego County from the top. You can see from La Mesa to Tijuana and up the coast to La Jolla. The trail is well marked and you will usually find 40-50 other hikers on this mountain at night, so you won’t feel too isolated when you hike after dark.

Distance: 6.3 mi (round-trip)


Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve

Los Penasquitos Preserve offers guided night hikes that are free to attend. This is a great adventure to bring kids on as it is educational, moderately paced, and on flat ground. The night hike goes near Mule Deer, bats, tarantulas, owls, and more.

Distance: 7.4 mi (round-trip)


Stonewall Peak in Cuyamaca

Of the many hiking trails at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, Stonewall Peak offers great views overlooking the State Park and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Keep in mind that to get to the top you will have to hike up a railed staircase. We do not recommend this trail for an after-dark hike with children.

Distance: 3.8 mi (round-trip)


Iron Mountain

This popular hiking trail brings excellent panoramic views of San Diego County. During your hike, you will notice large boulders, mountain mahogany, manzanita, and other vegetation which have grown back since the Cedar Fire. This trail is marked for easy navigation, and due to its popularity there will almost always be other hikers to help navigate your hike after dark.

Distance: 5.8 mi (round trip)


Mt. Woodson Backside Trail

Enjoy a night hike while taking in views of Ramona Valley. During your hike you will pass by large boulders, which is a popular spot for bouldering. As you head to the top, take breaks and enjoy the view around you. On a clear night, you may see downtown!

Distance: 4 mi (round-trip)


If you are looking to make your hike after dark a social outing, the San Diego Sierra Club offers several moonlight and night hikes.


Before you head out for an after-dark adventure, remember to pack water, bug repellent, a first-aid kit, and a flashlight. Even though the sun is down and it’s much cooler, it’s important to stay hydrated throughout your hike.

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