Hike to the Los Penasquitos Waterfall

San Diego Park Village Trailhead

Added by Alyssa San Agustin

  • Duration: 1 hour+
  • Trail: Easy flat straight path
  • Plenty of wildlife to see
  • Dog and family friendly
  • Leads to a calm waterfall
  • Tons of acres to explore
  • 3.5 mile roundtrip loop
  • 300 foot elevation gain

The Los Penasquitos Preserve waterfall is a hidden gem of San Diego and a popular spot for locals within the area. The hike to the waterfall lies within a preserve of approximately 4,000 acres. There are many different trailheads that lead to the waterfall all offering a unique experience. I always start at the Park Village Park trailhead because there is always plenty of parking and it is a fairly short and easy hike from this point.

This is a very easy straight and flat trail. It is very well maintained making it safe for dogs and families. It is important to make note that there are ticks present in this area so upon finishing the trail always check your dogs and children for ticks. There is also poison oak and rattlesnakes among this trail to be aware of.

The waterfall is hard to miss as you will continuously see signs leading you to it. Once arrived at the waterfall the trail begins to get narrow and rocky. There are conveniently stairs that lead down to the top of the waterfall. This is where the water is calm. If you make your way down you will find the actual waterfall. The top of the waterfall is a nice place for you to wade in or just enjoy a nice snack. When you're finished enjoying this spot you can continue hiking further where you'll find yourself under the old freeway. If you decide to turn around and go back you can stop at Carols crossing. Carols crossing is a bridge running through a beautiful array of sycamore trees & the creek underneath. You'll be able to spot fishes and tiny frogs in this creek.

This trail is not limited to just hiking but is also a very popular mountain biking trail as well. There are trails specifically for biking and foot traffic so there is no need to worry about traffic congestions along the way. Definitely a great spot to check out and can occasionally spot wildlife such as deer, bobcat, coyote, rattlesnakes, and a variety of aquatic birds.

Pack List

  • Sunblock
  • Water
  • Snacks/Lunch
  • Bug Spray
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Skill Level:



Year Round



Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly

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How to Get There

8 months ago

Great Little Oasis

This is a super mellow gem in North County. Bring some water and hopefully the falls are falling, because this is a great hike for people of all ages and skill levels.

8 months ago

9 months ago

Hike mostly in the sun if you park by the trail head next to the park, bring sunscreen. Many bikers and the falls are small but its a great local hike if you need some exercise for the afternoon.

9 months ago

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