I wanted to supplement the Quick Reference page with some of my favorite hikes for different activities. Sometimes I want to see the local wildflowers, sometime I just want to get on a trail and go. These are my favorite trails for different reasons.
Terrain: Falls Fire Road to Pine Ridge Trail. I like this hike for its varied terrain, and surprising views of San Diego’s backcountry. The Pine Ridge section rises and falls through some beautiful, high chaparral, my favorite plant communities in the county.
Wildflower viewing: Though any “wild” area you visit in San Diego County will have fairly similar wildflowers, I picked Merigan Fire Road because of its variety, but also it’s relatively mellow terrain, access to the Sweetwater River (more variety), and it’s mostly chaparral, which I like. Also an easy place for wildflower photography.
Photography: My favorite place for taking pictures may be surprising, but I really like Hollenbeck Canyon. It might be because Hollenbeck Canyon itself is such a surprise. In the middle of dry, golden brown Jamul is a lush canyon with a spring-fed creek, and huge oaks and sycamores, then a high trail over a steep chaparral canyon. Honorable mention must go to Tijuana Estuary, specifically if birding is a hobby, and Torrey Pines where all the characteristics I like about San Diego merge atop a cliff overlooking the Pacific.
Exercise: When I just feel like putting on my pack and putting miles behind me, I go to Laguna Meadow. You can put together a loop however long you’d like. But parking at Penny Pines getting up to the Sunset Trail, and looping back around on the Big Laguna Trail you can do 9 miles without a huge amount of climbing or descending. Just miles…
View: There are a lot of places in the mountains of San Diego County to take in a beautiful panorama, so this isn’t an easy choice. But, this is a hiking website, so my favorite hike, which rewards with a great view is Oakzanita Peak.
Urban Hiking: Sometimes I need to get out of the house, stretch the legs and smell the spicy aroma of the sage. Florida Canyon is a short walk from my house, and with a little meandering I can turn it into a 5-mile round trip. I don’t have a write-up on Florida Canyon, but it’s on the east side of Balboa Park, bisected by Florida Street.
Do you have any hikes you favor for any of the above reasons? Do you have any hiking goals other than those I’ve mentioned?