Looking for a few locations to enjoy either leisurely or moderate exercise, while enjoying beautiful Southern California views? We’ve got some great San Diego County hiking trails for you. We’ve crafted a list of 5 of our favorite hikes throughout San Diego County. If you’re looking for quick hiking trails in and around Oceanside, check out this blog!


The San Luis Rey River Trail

Photo Source: www.ci.oceanside.ca.us

The San Luis Rey River Trail is a Class I bicycle trail open to pedestrians as well. The trail is approximately 9 miles, one way, from the Neptune access (west end) to the eastern-most point at Hwy 76 and N. Santa Fe. The trail follows the path along the San Luis Rey River. Walkers and runners are welcome to bring their dogs to the trail for exercise as well. Just remember, if you use the trail with your four-legged friends, please pick up after them to keep the trail enjoyable for everyone! The west end of the trail is within a few blocks of the Oceanside Transit Center where commuters can board the Coaster, Amtrak and Metrolink trains or North County Transit District buses, all of which can accommodate bicycles.

Insider Tips:

  • The trail is smooth and mostly flat, makes it a local favorite among cyclists, walkers and inline skaters
  • Dogs using the trail must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet
  • There are bathrooms and a water fountain at the park so it is a nice place to cool down
  • This trail leads you all the way to the beach too, so don’t forget your camera


Guajome Regional Park

Photo Source: www.sandiegocounty.gov

3000 Guajome Lake Road Oceanside, CA 92057

Guajome Regional Park is located in the coastal community of Oceanside, including not only 4.5 miles of park trails to meander through, but also is surrounded by chaparral, woodlands, wetlands, mixed grasslands, and 33 campsites, in case you and the rest of the family want to make a weekend stay out of the excursion! There are two gorgeous fishing ponds and a sizable amount of open grass area, perfect for a pick-nick day, or to simply relax!

Insider Tips:

  • A playground for the kids, equipped with a jungle gym and swings
  • A wedding gazebo/pavillion that can fit and needs to be reserved for 10 or more, and
  • The lake is great for campers, park goers, for a picnic or to feed the geese and ducks
  • Camping spaces for RVs and tents, but you need a parking permit to park in the campgrounds
  • Park rangers are onsite to patrol the area to ensure safety


Lake Calavera Trail

Photo Source: www.carlsbadca.gov

Tamarack Ave & Strata Drive Carlsbad, CA 92010

This 4.9 mile trail loop is a moderate trailhead, with several different access trails for a morning walk/run or stroll with the dog! Fun fact about Lake Calavera: An old volcanic plug lies amongst the trail. You can climb to the top rim and look out onto the Carlsbad community area! Views from the bottom to the top are idyllic, with the small lake at the base and wide open views atop the mountain on a clear day!

Insider Tips:

  • Amazing view of not only Carlsbad, but much of North County San Diego, if you make the hike to the top
  • Provides quick local access to not only hiking, but mountain biking and geocaching
  • Dog-friendly, don’t have to worry about leashing your furry friend too
  • The crater is a crowd favorite, as you can go to the top edge and look out.


Double Peak Park

Photo Source: sandiegoreader.com

900 Double Peak Drive San Marcos, CA 92078

At the convergence of San Elijo Road and Double Peak Drive, the Double Peak Trailhead rests alongside the serene and peaceful Discovery Lake. This 5.3 mile trail is of moderate difficulty, with many scenic views to enjoy year-round. Also a dog-friendly trail, for you and your loved ones to take your favorite fur-balls out for a nice morning walk, afternoon stroll or picturesque sunset hike! Don’t be afraid to get out to San Marcos and explore some new terrain!

Insider Tips:

  • There are bathrooms and water fountains at both Discovery Lake and Double Peak Park
  • Even on a not-so-clear day, the view of the surrounding foothills is fantastic
  • If you’re pooping out a bit, you can actually drive yourself to the top too
  • Parking is manageable and the area to hike isn’t hard to find


Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve

Photo Source: www.olivenhain.com

8833 Harmony Grove Drive Escondido, CA 92029

The Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve trail starts out next to a calm wide creek, extending out 7-miles total, round trip. A moderate hike, with mostly uphill inclines, make sure to bring lots of water, as temperatures hike up during warmer months. In the summer months rattlesnakes have been spotted frequently, so ensure you’re prepared for encounters prior to coming. This is a great group-setting hiking trail and is dog-friendly, as long as the dog is leashed up! During peak hiking seasons parking can be limited, so give yourself the upper-leg and arrive either in the early morning, before the first wave of crowds, or in the late afternoon, after the final wave of crowds! Come out and explore the beauty of Elfin Forest!

Insider Tips:

  • Trails are all well maintained, well marked and offer great views of the reservoir/dam and Lake Hodges
  • The 0.6 mile botanical trail is a nice, easy walk along the stream bed, for beginners or casual hikers
  • Lots of bio-diversity and native plants to enjoy alongside the trail pathways
  • Horses are allowed on the trail, so watch out for horse droppings


Published: April 7, 2016

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