Lakeside, California

Lakeside, California is a must-visit for outdoor adventures, offering some of the best trails and outdoor activities. One of the top attractions is the El Capitan Preserve Trail, a challenging 11.3-mile hike with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the Cuyamaca Mountains. This trail is known for its steep inclines and rocky terrain, making it a great choice for those looking for a vigorous workout. Another scenic spot is the Lake Jennings, perfect for fishing and bird watching, with its abundant wildlife and clear waters. For rock climbing and bouldering, head to the Gaskill Peak, a natural rock formation that provides a challenging climb and panoramic views from the top. These are just a few examples of the outdoor adventures waiting for you in Lakeside, California.

Top Spots in and near Lakeside

  • Lakeside, California

    Hike the Oakoasis Open Space Preserve

    2.5 mi / 300 ft gain
    Starting at the trail-head, head down towards the oak-lined ravine marking the beginning of the hike. With trees already growing back from the 2003 fire, these sections of the trail are nice and shady, and quite relaxing. About 1 mile in you will start to see the San Vicente Reservoir to your lef...
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  • Lakeside, California

    Hike El Cajon Mountain

    4.5
    12 mi / 4100 ft gain
    This challenging trek is a great way to get in shape for that spring or summer trip to the Sierras. You may have heard others tell you how tough the hike is and they're not kidding. You'll be gaining 4100 feet over the 12 miles to the peak and back. If you have the time and the energy, you should...
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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Poway, California

    Hike around Goodan Ranch

    5.0
    3 mi
    Starting at the Sycamore Canyon Trail head, you will see the sign and gate that leads to Goodan Ranch. Head down the gravel road for 1.1 miles, until you reach a 3-way directional split. Heading straight for another .5 miles will take you directly to the ruins of the old Goodan house. Here you wi...
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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

    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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  • 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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  • 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

    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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  • Ramona, California

    Iron Mountain Peak Trail

    4.1
    5.67 mi / 1030 ft gain
    Iron Mountain is the longest wilderness trail in Poway, CA. The parking lot is free and provides bathroom and water fountain amenities. The distance from the parking area to the summit is approximately 3.2 miles. Beginning with a wide smooth trail, slowly transitioning into semi-technical incline...
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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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  • Jamul, California

    Hike Mt. McGinty

    4.8 mi / 1263 ft gain
    Balancing a good workout, gorgeous views, and minimal time commitment, these 4.8-mile steep trail is definitely a San Diego point of interest, and despite its proximity to the city of San Diego, it remains a low trafficked hike. The Hike: Right away the trail weaves you through beautiful vegetati...
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  • Ramona, California

    Mount Woodson's East Approach

    3.0
    3.96 mi / 1385 ft gain
    Mount Woodson is a well-known hiking trail in San Diego County. It is known for its breathtaking views and the famous potato chip rock. The Trail on the east side of the Mountain is fairly steep but is about half the distance of the trail on the west side of the mountain. To get to the trail on ...
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Camping and Lodging in Lakeside

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 Lakeside

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