Descanso, California

The best Trails and Outdoor Activities in Descanso, California, offer a variety of scenic landscapes and top outdoor adventures. One must-visit is the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. This park provides a network of hiking trails with diverse natural features, from the lush Green Valley Falls to the sweeping views atop Stonewall Peak. The trails range from easy to challenging, catering to both beginners and seasoned hikers. On your hike, you might spot native wildlife or unique rock formations. For a more leisurely outdoor activity, visit Lake Cuyamaca for fishing or bird-watching. Nearby, the Pacific Crest Trail offers long-distance hiking through varied landscapes. Truly, Descanso offers some of the best outdoor attractions in California.

Top Spots in and near Descanso

  • Chula Vista, California

    Hike Mother Miguel Mountain

    5.0
    4.5 mi / 977 ft gain
    At the summit, your work will be rewarded with stunning views from downtown San Diego all the way to Mexico. You can also see the surrounding mountain peaks and the Sweetwater Reservoir.  This is a great hike to do at sunset - but bring a headlamp / flashlight for the hike back down. This trail i...
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  • Santee, California

    Kwaay Paay Trail

    2.4 mi / 846 ft gain
    Park your car in the small gravel parking lot at the southwest corner of Father Junipero Serra Trail and Bushy Hill Drive (this is especially important if you plan to take the sunset hike, so you'll be outside the locked park gate when you descend). There will be other hikers parked there, but I'...
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  • San Diego, California

    Pyles Peak

    5.0
    6.03 mi / 1706 ft gain
    Most people who live in San Diego have heard of, if not hiked, Cowles Mountain. At 1591 ft., Cowles is the highest peak in the city of San Diego. It's a hugely popular destination for day hikers and trail runners looking to get in a little trail time and take in the 360 degree views the summit h...
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  • Santee, California

    Oak Canyon in Mission Trails Regional Park

    5.0
    3.22 mi / 249 ft gain
    Starting on Father Junipero Serra Trail, drive 0.7 miles west to the Old Mission Dam parking lot on the left. The park closes the gates at 7pm, so make sure to park early, or plan your hike in such a way that you don't get locked in! If you think you'll need longer, you can park out on the main r...
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  • La Mesa, California

    Catch a Sunset at Lake Murray

    Lake Murray Reservoir provides drinking water to parts of San Diego, and thus is a no swimming lake. This is one of the reasons it is such a great place to photograph! If you are shooting the sunset, use this app to check the time the sun sets, and get to the lake at least 30 minutes prior to set...
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  • Poway, California

    Mount Woodson and Potato Chip Rock

    4.6
    6.45 mi / 900 ft gain
    Mt. Woodson is located in Poway's most eastern region and is one of San Diego's most popular and most iconic hiking trails. Known for its grand photo opportunistic "Potato Chip Rock", Mt. Woodson is a 7.5mi out-and-back trail with amazing vistas, convenient rest stops and breathtaking views. The...
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  • Poway, California

    Relax at Lake Poway

    4.0
    It costs $5 to enter the park and they are open 6am to sunset everyday. There is plenty of parking and this park is huge! This place has so many outdoor recreational activities such as fishing, hiking, running, archery, feeding ducks, or just having a picnic. With so many possibilities in this on...
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  • San Diego, California

    Visitor Center Loop Trail

    5.0
    1.46 mi / 148 ft gain
    The Visitor Center Loop Trail is a 1.4 mile hike in San Diego that features river views and allows dogs.The Visitor Center Loop Trail is a well maintained, quick hike with shady spots scattered along the path and open year-round. This trail is great for kids and dog owners. There is a great netwo...
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  • San Diego County, California

    Hike Canyon Sin Nombre

    4.0
    5 mi / 750 ft gain
    This slot canyon hike is found deep in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Canyon Sin Nombre. If you have a suitable 4WD vehicle you can drive about 2.2 miles to the start of the slot otherwise you can hike down the sandy unpaved road. The entrance will be on your left and marked by metal posts...
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  • Poway, California

    Blue Sky Ecological Reserve to Ramona Dam

    3.0
    5.3 mi / 984 ft gain
    Starting at the trail head where you park your car, head south along the Green Valley Truck Trail. After less than a mile, you will notice the city and noise start to fade behind you, and a beautiful sight of towering oaks, willows, and sycamores appear as you walk along the Creekside Trail. You ...
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  • Poway, California

    Catch a Sunset at Twin Peaks Mountain

    2 mi
    Start by parking at Silverset Park. You will see the trail head for Twin Peaks just behind the park. Park outside of the park if you think you'll be staying past sunset, as the park gates close at dark! Once you spot the trail head, veer left to the path heading up towards the peaks. You will eve...
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  • San Diego, California

    South Fortuna Mountain

    5.0
    4.59 mi / 997 ft gain
    Hiking at sunset/night is a great way to beat both the heat and the crowds. On a clear day, you can see from Mexico to Catalina Island! If you stay long enough, you can see all of San Diego's city lights turn on, or the marine layer fog creeps into the canyons. South Fortuna Peak is part of Miss...
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  • San Diego, California

    Mission Trails 5 Peaks

    15 mi
    The 15-ish mile route we took made it a great workout, but it didn’t crush us. We left the apartment at 6 am and were back home with plenty of time to prep cook and eat a big dinner before 5 pm. Although I completed the hike in 1 day(and I highly recommend it)many people completed each hike indi...
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  • San Diego, California

    Explore Chambers Hidden Dam and Waterfall

    3.2
    0.5 mi
    Once you get off on Poway road, turn right onto Sabre Springs Parkway. Take your immediate left onto Creekbridge Road and park right there on the hill. Walk straight down towards the black gate and go down the hill. Turn right on the trail and walk down 1/4 mile to the dam, and another 500 yards ...
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  • San Diego County, California

    Hike to the Goat Canyon Trestle

    5.0
    7 mi
    The main attraction of this hike is the wooden trestle. This engineering marvel was built in 1932 and still remains the tallest and longest curved wooden trestle in the U.S.This hike is recommended for the physically and mentally prepared. From Mortero Palms, it's a 3.5 mile (7 miles roundtrip) t...
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  • Warner Springs, California

    Eagle Rock via the Pacific Crest Trail

    5.0
    6.2 mi / 807 ft gain
    With doing more hikes in the SoCal area, I've realized half the battle is just trying to find the damn trailhead.Technically you have 2 ways to enter this trail ... Start from 79 and add a very enjoyable extra 3ish miles, or start from the Warner Springs Fire Station, for a total 7 mile hike.We c...
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