Hiking Along Penasquitos Creek

Los Penasquitos Canyon Trail

This should/ can take about 3 hours to hike this super easy trail. You'll see a bunch of waterfalls and wading pools.

Los Penasquitos Canyon Trail is a great easy hiking trail with views unlike any other in San Diego. The trail is well known for biking, horse back riding, walking, jogging and walking your dog. To get to the trail, take the 5 freeway and exit onto the 56 East freeway. From the 56 East freeway, take the Black Mountain Rd exit, and turn right onto Black Mountain Rd. Drive for about another mile and turn right onto Mercy Rd into the parking lot. From the parking lot you will see the trail, which is clearly marked and well maintained.

After about a five minute hike on the trail you will start to enter into Los Penasquitos Canyon. Every section of the trail is different, one minute you are walking next to a stream with trees arching over the trail and another minute you are walking through an open field of grass. The trail is mostly easy with one little hill before you get to the waterfalls. Once you are at the top of the hill you will see an open area, stop there and the waterfall is down the trail to your right. After walking the trail down to the waterfalls you will be at the top of them. If you walk down past the main waterfall there is a wading pool that is perfect to cool off before you hike back. Be cautious walking around the waterfalls because the trails are not well marked and have loose rocks. After leaving the falls you can either turn back or take some of the other trails that are out there. Keep in mind that the gates to the parking lot are only open from 8-6. You can always park in a nearby neighborhood and walk in if you are going to be later than 6 and do not want to be locked in the parking lot.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Camera
  • Towel
  • Hiking shoes
  • Flashlight
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RT Distance 3 Miles
Activities Chillin, Photography, Swimming, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Swimming Hole

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Fun Little Hike

I really enjoy doing this hike on the weekend, especially after a rainfall and the river is running a little higher. It is flat the whole time and leads to some fairly basic falls, but fun to take the side trails around the park.

Hiking along the side trails near the creek is great. Main 'trail' is wide and easy to walk. Falls at the end are cool but can be busy with many people.

Great for trail running


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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