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The Sunny City of San Diego has more to offer than just some gorgeous beaches. This city is home to beautiful natural hiking trails that will get you and your family outside and breathing that fresh air.

Hiking trails in San Diego are plentiful with the hill and mountainous terrain. The best hikes are those that get you close to nature and experiencing the beauty of the land. I also believe that hiking is a wonderful activity for kids to explore, learn, and exercise all at the same time.

So, get your hiking boots, camelbacks, and sunscreen ready, because the views while hiking in San Diego are spectacular!

 1. Cowles Mountain Trail (Mission Trails Regional Park) Best Hiking Trails In San Diego for Families

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 3 Miles
Elevations: 908 Feet
Route: Out & Back 

This beautiful trail is one of the top scenic hiking routes in San Diego. The Cowles Mountain gives you spectacular 360 panoramic views of Downtown San Diego, Mexico, North County, and Orange County. 

The Cowles Mountain Trail is perfect for all ages! It is a moderate trail that is great for running, mountain biking, hiking, families, and dogs as long as they are on a leash. The trail is a bit rocky and little to no shade spots to rest, so maybe bring a hat and of course water!

2. Los Penasquitos Canyon TrailBest Hiking Trails In San Diego for Families

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 7.4 Miles
Elevation: 147 Feet
Route: Loop 

The Los Penasquitos Canyon Trail is wonderful for the whole family because it’s mainly flat. This is a great trail because you can choose to make your hike/walk/run as long or as short as you’d prefer. You may see many bikers, runners, and even horse-back riders along this trail. 

This hike is popular because of the gorgeous waterfall and beautiful bridges. There is one precaution, however, and that is to be careful during the wet season. The trail tends to have muddy areas but it’s nothing that can’t be walked around. 

3. Sunset Cliffs Park Trail (Sunset Cliffs National Park)

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.7 Miles
Elevations: 150 Feet
Route: Out & Back

A very popular trail that is year-round and great for all skill levels to enjoy. This trail gives you an opportunity to see local wildlife and sandy beaches. Sunset Cliffs Park Trail is perfect for the whole family including dogs on leashes. 

This hike is considered to be one of San Diego’s best hikes to watch the sunset over the coast. It is also a beautiful place for a romantic stroll.

4. Lake Miramar Trail

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 4.9 Miles
Elevation: 98 Feet
Route: Loop

Lake Miramar Trail is the perfect place to enjoy nature and still have the luxury of modern paved walk-ways. The trail is great for families of all types and is stroller/wheelchair friendly. Dogs on leashes are also welcome to enjoy a stroll. 

Be cautious because it is a heavily tracked trail but it does provide bathrooms through the 4.9-mile loop. 

5. Oak Canyon to Grasslands (Mission Trails Regional Park)

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 3.7 Miles
Elevation: 344 feet
Route: Loop

Oak Canyon to grasslands is a heavily trafficked trail great for kids and dogs on leashes. If you enjoy hiking with great views, nature, birds, and more then this trail is for you. 

It’s considered a moderate trail because some places are a bit rocky and may require more solid shoes like hiking boots or tennis shoes with good traction. The Oak Canyon to Grasslands trail is a nice and peaceful hike but not much shade so bring a hat. 

6. Seven Bridge Walk (Balboa Park)

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 6.6 Miles
Elevation: 485 Feet
Route: Loop

The Seven Bridges Walk is wonderful for everyone of all ages. The best times to go is between April and September. There are plenty of open fields that you may want to rest, so bringing a towel or blanket to sit on is recommended. 

The trail is not shaded so a hat and water is a must to bring along. The trail does run through the city and it has stopping points with crossing streets, so keep the kids and pets close! 

7. Visitor Center Loop Trail (Mission Trails Regional Park)

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.4 Miles
Elevation: 160 Feet
Route: Loop

This looping trail is great for the kids and pets. It is another heavily trafficked trail that many enjoy running and even horseback riding along. This trail is located partly along a river so you and the kids can stop and skip rocks or relax by the water. 

The views are gorgeous and the walk is nice and peaceful. It’s a short loop to get out for a quick walk or run. 

8. Tecolote Canyon Trail

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 6.7 Miles
Elevation: 538 Feet
Route: Out & Back

This trail is a long hike but you can turn back at any time. It has stunning features and is accessible year-round. The trail is pretty easy for children to walk along and is dog-friendly. 

You may want to avoid this trail, however, if it’s been raining as it can obtain mud and puddles during the wet season. 

9. Bayside Trail (Cabrillo National Monument)

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2 Miles
Elevation: 205 Feet
Route: Our & Back

If you’re looking for the perfect family-friendly trail that gives you spectacular views of the coast, this is the one! This trail is easy and has access for strollers and wheelchairs. 

This trail also located at the Historic Monument that commemorates the landing of Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo who was the first expedition to land at the San Diego Bay. Great historical learning site for the kiddos. 

10. Nighthawk Trail to Black Mountain Summit

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 3.9 Miles
Elevation: 846 Feet
Route: Out & Back

Nighthawk trail is a wonderful options for families who enjoy a little challenge as is can be quite rocky with a steady incline. However, the views and wildflowers along the trail are spectacular. This trail can also be made in to a loop if you desire to hike down Black Mountain Service Road.

The trail is also pet friendly with dogs allowed as long as they are leashed. You may even see some mountain bikers on this trail so keep an eye out. Shade is non-exsitent on the trail so you may want to wear a hat or sunglasses.

11. Point Loma Tidepools and Bluffs Trail (Cabrillo National Monument)

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1 Mile
Elevation: 45 Feet
Route: Out & Back

This trail is wonderful for all skill level hikers looking for a quick outdoor adventure. It has beautiful beach and wildlife scenery and is open year-round.

If you plan on bringing the kids, watch them closey as it could become slippery.

12. Mission Bay Trail (Mission Bay Park)

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 6.3 Miles
Elevation: 52 Feet
Route: Out & Back

Mission Bay Trail is popular amongst the locals. It is used heavily for running, hiking, and biking. The trail is open year round and is pet and kid friendly. The path is paved the entire way which makes it great to bring along stollers or those in wheelchairs.

This trail also has great views of the Bay and you may even see ducks along the water. It is the perfect place for a morning or evening stroll.

I hope you enjoyed this great list of the best kid-friendky hiking trails in San Diego that you can explore with your whole family. Feel free to check out more options at alltrails.com. Thanks for stopping by!

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