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La Mesa, California

The best Trails and Outdoor Activities in La Mesa, California offer a variety of scenic outdoor adventures. One of the top must-visit trails is Lake Murray Trail, a 5.3-mile loop that circles the lake, offering beautiful views of the water and surrounding landscape. It's a relatively easy trail, suitable for all skill levels. The trail is also home to diverse bird species, making it a delight for birdwatchers. Another notable trail is Cowles Mountain Trail. It's a bit challenging with its steep incline, but the panoramic view of San Diego from the summit is worth the effort. Nearby, Mission Trails Regional Park offers over 60 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails, with unique rock formations and riparian habitats. From lakeside strolls to challenging climbs, La Mesa has something to offer for every outdoor adventurer.

Top Spots in and near La Mesa

  • 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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  • 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

    Crystal Cave

    4.0
    0.46 mi / 59 ft gain
    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. This will be a quick trip, as the total distance is less than a mile out and back. Head a quarter mile or ...
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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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  • Santee, California

    Cowles Mountain via Big Rock Road

    4.5
    4.32 mi / 1109 ft gain
    Start by plugging 8125 Arlette St, Santee, CA into your GPS. This takes you to Big Rock Park, a convenient parking spot for the Cowles Hike. From here you want to walk through the park, and around the right side of the tennis court. This will take you to the fenced entrance to the hike. Head sout...
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  • Santee, California

    Cowles Mountain via Big Rock Trail

    4.0
    4.86 mi / 1207 ft gain
    Starting somewhat near sea-level, Cowles Mountain via the Big Rock Trail climbs about 1000 ft in elevation.  This trail is about 5 miles total, out and back.  Arrive at Big Rock park which has good parking.  At the park you will walk to the left of the tennis courts past the limits (the fence) of...
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  • San Diego, California

    Hike to South Fortuna Peak

    5.0
    5 mi / 1000 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 creep into the canyons.South Fortuna Peak is part of Mission ...
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  • San Diego, California

    Hike 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 indiv...
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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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  • Santee, California

    Oak Canyon in Mission Trails Regional Park

    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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  • 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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  • San Diego, California

    Hike the Balboa Park Trails

    4.6
    4.3 mi / 459 ft gain
    The Balboa Park Trail offers the chance to see wildlife and is open year-round. The trail is shared by runners, families, hikers, and bikers. Dogs are able to use the trail but must be kept on leash. There is a dog park you will pass by. 
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  • San Diego, California

    Hike the Seven Bridge Walk

    5.0
    5.2 mi / 452 ft gain
    The Seven Bridge Walk is a 5.2 mile loop through urban San Diego with scenic views, neat bridges, and gorgeous palm trees. Dogs are allowed on the trail, and the loop is perfect for families and all skill levels. On a Sunday, you will go through the Hillcrest farmers market - a great spot for cof...
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  • San Diego, California

    Climb the Famous California Balboa Bell Tower

    5.0
    This tour allows you to climb up the iconic landmark of Balboa Park. It has never been open to the public to climb until January 2014. An easy seven floor climb brings you to a beautiful viewing deck. From the top of the tower you'll be able to see the glimpses of the San Diego Zoo, the Cuyamaca ...
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  • San Diego, California

    Discover the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge

    4.0
    Located at the intersection of Spruce Street and First Avenue this spot is hard to miss! There is no parking lot, but there is plenty of street parking nearby!! This suspension bridge is one of those hidden gems in San Diego. Located within Banker's Hill, this bridge brings peace and serenity. It...
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  • San Diego, California

    Run the Convention Center Stairs

    4.8
    This is a great spot to get in a workout and to get some fresh air. The stairs are around 100 steps to the top, so if you're feeling good, you can get a few rounds in. In terms of safety, there are usually people around the convention center, so you most likely won't be alone. With that said, be ...
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Camping and Lodging in La Mesa

San Diego Metro KOA Resort
Chula Vista, California

San Diego Metro KOA Resort

Boulder Oaks Eqst
Campo, California

Boulder Oaks Eqst

El Prado Group
Laguna Meadow Road

El Prado Group

Laguna
Mount Laguna, California

Laguna

Horse Heaven Group
Mount Laguna, California

Horse Heaven Group

Wooded Hill Group
Mount Laguna, California

Wooded Hill Group

Guides, Insights and Stories from La Mesa

The 5 Best Photography Spots in San Diego

The 5 Best Photography Spots in San Diego

Dustin Kahia

The Adventure-side of Oceanside - 4 Days of Sending it in the Heart of SoCal

The Adventure-side of Oceanside - 4 Days of Sending it in the Heart of SoCal

William Woodward

The Adventure-side of Oceanside Essential Gear

The Adventure-side of Oceanside Essential Gear

Josiah Roe