|Best of hiking in San Diego are at Torrey Pines State Reserve or Mission Trails Regional Park.
Torrey Pines State Reserve:
A wilderness island in an urban sea. This fragile 2000 acre environment is also the home of the nation?s rarest pine tree - Pinus torreyana. As the sea rose and fell over the past million years, shelves or marine terraces were cut into the sandstone at various levels and other sediments were deposited on these shelves. The results of this process have made it accurate to describe a large part of the Reserve as a set of shelves or ancient beaches. The views combine wind bent trees, abstract sandstone formations, wildflowers, and the sea or lagoon below, all of which are constantly changing. Many artists and photographers come to enjoy and capture the flavor of the changing seasons and weather.
Dramatic views are plentiful from areas of the hiking trails which parallel the bluff edge high above the sea and several viewing platforms have been built right at the bluff edge. They are excellent sites for observing the yearly migration of the Gray Whales as well as the year-round spectacle of dolphins. This hike is typically 2.5 hours long on beautiful beach trails.
Mission Trails Regional Park:
This 5,800-acre park, is one of the largest urban parks in the US. In 1960, the concept of this urban park was formalized following a transfer of surplus to the city of San Diego. This gave way to the preservation of some of the last remaining open space which lies very close to downtown San Diego.
The many peaks of Mission Trails Regional Park accommodate all levels of hikers! Leisure hikers will start at the Old Mission Dam, which was built between 1807 and 1816 under the direction of the San Diego Mission. This dam supplied water to the mission at the east end of Mission Valley. Hikers will cross over the San Diego River on an iron footbridge and hike along the Oak Canyon Trail. Wildlife is abundant in Mission Trails Regional Park. Participants may see cottontail rabbits, deer, coyote, quail and many many different types of birds.
You can hike to the top of Cowles Mountain, the Highest Peak in Mission Trails (1,590 ft) and witness views to the Lagunas in the East, Mexico to the South and the Coronado Islands to the West.
Equally as challenging, the hike to the top of Fortuna Mountain gives one a great view of Mission Trails Regional Park. This 4.8 mile hike includes 900 feet of elevation gain.
La Jolla Walking Tour:
La Jolla is and enchanting coastal community, located 14 miles from the Center of San Diego. One can take in the sites of the rugged coastline of Torrey Pines State Reserve, the majestic caves that look down on La Jolla Shores, to the Cove and children?s Pool. You can observe the numerous the numerous wildlife, the brown pelican, cormorants, Sea lions and harbor seals. As you walk inland to the village you will encounter the richness and beauty of La Jolla?s past and present. With the wonderful climate, flowers are always in full color and bloom.
Cowles Mountain Hike:
(Intermediate Hike, approximately 3 hours, 5 miles round trip.)
A great hike that is right in the middle of San Diego (Mission Trails Regional Park). Climb up this challenging 1,590 foot peak and be treated to gorgeous views in all directions. High above the city you can see all the way to the Laguna Mountains, down into Mexico and clearly to the ocean.
Mount Woodson (Intermediate/Advanced):
This challenging hike is approximately 11 miles round trip. At the top is a razor sharp boulder flake. Elevation gain: 2300 feet.