Wellness & Nature

Pawsome Trails: 11 Scenic Dog-Friendly Hikes in San Diego!

San Diego is known for its beautiful beaches and stunning ocean views, but there's more to this city than just sand and surf.

If you're a dog owner looking for a scenic hike to take your furry friend on, you're in luck. San Diego boasts some of the best dog-friendly trails in Southern California.

Whether you're a seasoned hiker or just looking for a leisurely stroll, San Diego has something for everyone.

From coastal hikes with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean to inland trails surrounded by lush vegetation, there's no shortage of options for you and your pup.

Not only do these trails offer stunning scenery, but they also provide a great opportunity for exercise and bonding with your furry companion.

So pack some water, grab your leash, and get ready to explore some of the best dog-friendly hikes San Diego has to offer.

1. Cowles Mountain

Cowles Mountain
Cowles Mountain, San Diego, CA 92119 (Google Maps)

Cowles Mountain is a moderate hike with uneven terrain, perfect for those who love a good workout. The trail is well-marked and suitable for families with children and dogs.

The hike takes about an hour and a half to complete, including a few stops for photos and water breaks.

The views from the top are breathtaking, offering a 360-degree panoramic view of the surrounding area. It can get crowded on weekends, so it's best to go early in the morning or at sunset for a more peaceful experience.

Bring plenty of water, especially on hot days, as there is no shade along the trail. This hike is definitely worth it for the stunning views and a great workout.

2. Mission Trails-Kwaay Paay Peak

Mission Trails-Kwaay Paay Peak
Father Junipero Serra Trail, San Diego, CA 92119 (Google Maps)

Mission Trails-Kwaay Paay Peak is a great dog-friendly hike that offers a challenging climb to the peak.

The 2.4-mile round trip trail gains over 800 feet of elevation and provides scenic views from the top.

The trail has options for different difficulty levels and is well-maintained. The area is also great for families and exercise enthusiasts with plenty of biking and hiking trails.

However, visitors should be aware of rattlesnakes during the summer months.

3. Cowles Mountain Trailhead

Cowles Mountain Trailhead
7001 Golfcrest Dr, San Diego, CA 92119 (Google Maps)

Looking for a scenic dog-friendly hike with panoramic views in the city, then Cowles Mountain Trailhead is the perfect spot.

The trail is well-maintained with clearly marked signage indicating difficulty, distances, and routes. It's a moderate hike with a challenging elevation gain, but the reward is worth it.

The summit offers 360-degree views of the surrounding area. The parking lot can fill up quickly, but there is ample street parking available.

Remember to bring water, bags for your furry friend, and wear sturdy shoes. It's a great spot for a quick workout or a leisurely hike with your furry friend.

4. Bayside Trailhead

Bayside Trailhead
Bayside Trail, San Diego, CA 92106 (Google Maps)

If you're looking for a beautiful and dog-friendly hike, Bayside Trailhead is a great option.

The trail is short but steep, with plenty of spots to sit and take in the stunning views of the bay.

The hike is uphill all the way, but it's not too difficult even for those who aren't in great shape. Best of all, if you have a national parks pass, there's no fee to enter.

If you're in the area and looking for a scenic and relaxing hike, Bayside Trailhead is definitely worth checking out.

5. Rose Canyon Trail Head

Rose Canyon Trail Head
7042 Genesee Ave, San Diego, CA 92122 (Google Maps)

Rose Canyon Trail Head is a serene hiking area that is perfect for dog owners who love to explore nature. The trail is mild and offers plenty of shade from the surrounding trees and canyonside.

It's a great place to spend a quiet afternoon with your furry friend without having to drive out of the city.

The natural beauty of the area is breathtaking, with stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

If you're looking for a peaceful hike with your dog, Rose Canyon Trail Head is definitely worth a visit.

6. San Dieguito River Park – Santa Fe Valley Trail

San Dieguito River Park - Santa Fe Valley Trail
8173 Del Dios Rd, San Diego, CA 92127 (Google Maps)

San Dieguito River Park – Santa Fe Valley Trail is a great place to take your furry friend for a scenic hike.

The trail is well-maintained and offers a slight elevation gain with a nice view of the back of the hodges dam.

The park is also cyclist-friendly and has facilities for dog owners. The trail can be challenging at times, but it's worth it for the beautiful scenery.

Watch out for rattlesnakes when you're down by the creek. All in all, this is a great spot for a hike with your dog.

7. Tecolote Canyon Trailhead

Tecolote Canyon Trailhead
5188 Tecolote Rd, San Diego, CA 92110 (Google Maps)

Tecolote Canyon Trailhead is a beautiful and scenic dog-friendly hiking trail. The trail is surrounded by lush green trees and a refreshing creek.

The highlight of the hike is a secret swing that adds a fun and adventurous touch to the experience.

However, visitors have reported a slight sewage smell in the area.

Despite this, the hike is still a great option for those looking to enjoy the outdoors with their furry friends. Highly recommended for a peaceful and refreshing outing.

8. Tecolote Canyon Hiking Area

Tecolote Canyon Hiking Area
4600-4616 Genesee Ave, San Diego, CA 92117 (Google Maps)

Tecolote Canyon Hiking Area is a beautiful and serene trail perfect for families and their furry friends.

The easy and flat trail is surrounded by large mature oak trees and toyon, creating a heavily shaded environment. The trail is not well-marked, but a simple zoom-in on Google maps will keep hikers on the right path.

The trail runs alongside a narrow creek, making it a great spot to relax and get in touch with nature.

The hike is a perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the outdoors.

9. Rose Canyon Trailhead

Rose Canyon Trailhead
San Diego, CA 92122 (Google Maps)

Rose Canyon Trailhead is a great option for a scenic dog-friendly hike. The trail is easily accessible and feels secluded, despite being in a neighborhood.

The live oaks provide ample shade along the way, and there are benches to take a break or enjoy a snack.

However, hikers should be cautious of poison oak along the trail.

All in all, Rose Canyon Trailhead is a great choice for a peaceful hike with your furry friend.

10. Carson's Crossing

Carson's Crossing
San Diego, CA 92130 (Google Maps)

Carson's Crossing is a scenic dog-friendly hike that offers a peaceful and easy trail for all hikers. The path is well-maintained and offers plenty of shade, making it perfect for a hot summer day.

The highlight of the hike is the beautiful stream crossing, which features excellent bridges for bikers and hikers alike. Equestrian riders can also enjoy a fantastic shallow crossing.

The area is peaceful and quiet, making it a great spot for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. The hike also serves as a connector between the north and south trails that lead to opposite sides of the waterfall.

With its beautiful creek crossing bridges and easy trail, Carson's Crossing is a must-visit for anyone looking for a scenic hike with their furry friend.

11. Shepherd Canyon

Shepherd Canyon
6126 Antigua Blvd, San Diego, CA 92124 (Google Maps)

Shepherd Canyon is a scenic and dog-friendly hike, perfect for families with kids and pets. The trail is wide and suitable for hiking strollers, making it easy to take your little ones along.

The east end of the canyon offers the best views, and the trail connects to the mission trails system. The canyon is well-maintained by a resident's group, ensuring that the trail is clean and free of trash.

While there are no public restrooms, you can bring your own water and pick up after your furry friends. The hike is two and a half miles out and back, and birding can be excellent, with the occasional sighting of deer.

It's an urban favorite, nestled between subdivisions, and perfect for a quick exercise or a leisurely walk.