Hiking Along Penasquitos Creek

San Diego Los Penasquitos Canyon Trail

Added by Jason Neitzke

  • Duration: about 3 hours
  • Distance: 6 miles
  • Easy Trail
  • Waterfalls
  • 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
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

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



Chillin, Fishing, Fitness, Hiking, Mountain Biking, Photography, Running, Swimming, Yoga

Skill Level:



Year Round



Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Swimming Hole

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

8 months ago

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.

8 months ago

about 1 year ago

Great for trail running

about 1 year ago

More Adventures Nearby

Hike the Calcite Mine Trail in the Anza-Borrego Desert

San Diego / Calcite Mine Road Lookout

Open from March until October - but I would not particularly recommend this hike in the summer months, unless you started in the wee almost dark hours.

Fern Koan
13 Saves

Catch a Sunset at Twin Peaks Mountain

San Diego / Silverset Park

Start by parking at Silverset Park. You will see the trail head for Twin Peaks just behind the park.

Alex Seger
10 Saves

Hike to Crystal Cave

San Diego / Crystal Cave Trailhead

Starting at 8100 Mesa road, you will see parking along the side of the road in a few places, take advantage where you find it.  Pass over the trail gate that marks the start of the journey.

Alex Seger
9 Saves