A Guide to 15 Amazing Dog-Friendly Day Hikes in San Diego County


A small dog hiking on a dog friendly hiking trail in San Diego

If you're looking for some great dog-friendly places to take your dog hiking in San Diego County, you've come to the right place. In this dog lover blog post, we'll share some of our favorite trails, as well as tips on how to make the most of your hike. So whether you're a local looking for new adventures or a visitor planning a trip to sunny California, be sure to check out these 15 dog-friendly hiking trails:

  1. Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve

  2. Lake Poway

  3. Del Mar Dog Beach

  4. Black Mountain Open Space Park

  5. Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve

  6. Sycamore Canyon Preserve

  7. Marian Bear Memorial Park

  8. Mission Trails Regional Park

  9. Cowles Mountain

  10. Tecolote Canyon Natural Park

  11. Fiesta Island Dog Park

  12. Ocean Beach Dog Beach

  13. Balboa Park

  14. Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

  15. Tijuana River Valley Regional Park

A map of dog friendly hiking trails in San Diego California

There are plenty of reasons to take your dog hiking. For one, it's a great way to get some exercise for both you and your pup. Hiking is also a great way to bond with your dog, and it's a fun way to explore the great outdoors together. Plus, there's nothing quite like the feeling of accomplishment when you complete a trail with your furry friend by your side.


Safety First


Before you hit the trails, it's important to take some safety precautions:

  • Make sure your dog is up-to-date on all their vaccinations.

  • Pack plenty of water and snacks for both you and your pup.

  • Don't forget the poop bags!

  • It's a good idea to keep your dog on a leash at all times, even if they're well-behaved. This will help you maintain control if they encounter any wildlife or other hikers along the way.

  • Be aware that San Diego has its share of wildlife and these include: rattlesnakes, mountain lions, and bobcats.

  • Dress appropriately: Wear comfortable shoes and clothing that will help you stay cool - remember, it's usually hotter in San Diego. And don't forget to pack sunscreen and a hat for both of you.

  • Be prepared: In case of an emergency, be sure to bring your cell phone and a first-aid kit. It's also a good idea to let someone know where you're going and when you expect to be back.

  • Most importantly, don't forget to have fun! Hiking is a great way to explore new places and spend time with your furry friend. So take your time, enjoy the scenery, and make some great memories.

  • Read more in our blog post about keeping you & your dog safe on outdoor adventures.


San Diego - The Perfect Place For Dog-Owners Who Love To Hike


A couple hiking with their Boxer and wearing matching dog and owner shirts

San Diego is one of the most dog-friendly cities in the world and boasts some of the best hiking trails for dogs. It's no wonder that San Diego dogs are some of the happiest pups around! Here is a short list of some of our favorite hiking trails around the county in order from northwest to southeast. Click on the links of each area to learn more about that location.



Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve


The reserve has a variety of terrain, from easy trails to more difficult ones, making it a good choice for dogs of all fitness levels and hiking experiences. The reserve is also less crowded than some of the other hiking trails in the area, making it a good option if you want to avoid large groups of people. Finally, the reserve is open year-round, so you can go hiking with your dog any time of year.


Two dogs resting on the San Diego dog friendly hiking trail at Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve


Lake Poway


This man-made lake is located in the foothills of Poway and offers some beautiful scenery. The easy lakeside trail is perfect for a leisurely stroll with your pup, and there's also a longer hiking trail that loops around the lake if you're feeling energetic. Dogs are required to be on a leash at all times in this park.


Del Mar Dog Beach


Three dogs getting ready for a hike at Del Mar Dog Beach in San Diego

This beach is a great place to take your dog for a hike because it is so close to the water. You can also find a lot of other dogs here to play with. Check out our in-depth blog post on Del Mar Dog Beach.


Black Mountain Open Space Park


Black Mountain Open Space Park is a great place to take your dog for a hike because it offers plenty of trails to choose from, and the views are stunning. The park is situated in the foothills of San Diego, and it offers beautiful views of the city below. There are plenty of trails to choose from, so you and your dog can find one that's perfect for you. And, if you get tired, there are plenty of places to rest and relax.


Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve


Two dogs hiking on a dog friendly hiking trail in San Diego

Located just north of downtown San Diego, Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve is a great place to take your dog hiking. There are over 40 miles of trails to explore, ranging from easy to challenging, so you're sure to find something that's perfect for you and your pup. And with stunning views of the canyon and the Pacific Ocean, it's easy to see why this is one of the most popular spots in San Diego for dog hikers. Just be sure to bring plenty of water and keep your dog on a leash at all times. Check out our blog post for more information.



Sycamore Canyon Preserve


If you're looking for a challenge, head to Sycamore Canyon Preserve. This 6,000-acre park is located in the foothills of Poway and offers some of the most challenging hiking trails in San Diego. Dogs are allowed on all trails, but they must be kept on a leash at all times. And with plenty of canyon and ocean views, it's easy to see why this is one of the most popular spots for dog hikers in San Diego.


Marian Bear Memorial Park


Centrally located in San Clemente Canyon, it's easily accessible from pretty much anywhere in the county. You can stick to the flat terrain, but if you're feeling adventurous, check out some of the uphill trails!


Mission Trails Regional Park

Two dogs looking onto a hiking trail


This huge park is located just east of downtown San Diego and offers plenty of trails to explore. The Oak Canyon Trail is a great option for a moderate hike, and there's also the Challenge Loop Trail if you're looking for something more challenging. Either way, your dog will love getting out and exploring all this park has to offer.




Cowles Mountain


Looking for a good workout for you and your pup? If so, head over to Cowles Mountain. This challenging, 3 mile hike offers stunning 360-degree views of San Diego. Be aware that some parts of the trail can get very steep and dogs must be kept on-leash at all times.


Tecolote Canyon Natural Park


The canyon is full of beautiful plants and animals, and there are plenty of trails to explore. If you're looking for a challenging hike, Tecolote Canyon is definitely worth checking out.


Fiesta Island Dog Park


Fiesta Island Dog Park is the perfect place to take your pup for a swim and a hike. Located in Mission Bay, this off-leash dog park offers beautiful views of the water, as well as plenty of space for your dog to run and play. And with a separate fenced-in area for small dogs, it's easy to find a spot that's perfect for your pup. Just be sure to bring some water and keep an eye on your dog, as there are no lifeguards on duty.


Ocean Beach Dog Beach


Located in Ocean Beach, this popular dog beach is the perfect place to take your pup for a swim and a hike. There's a wide boardwalk that runs along the beach, making it easy to keep your dog on a leash, and there's also a fenced-in off-leash area where your dog can run and play. Just be sure to bring some water for both of you, as it can get pretty hot out there. Check out our blog post for more information.


Balboa Park


Balboa Park is a must-visit for any dog lover visiting San Diego. With over 100 acres of land to explore, your dog will have a blast running around and taking in all the sights and smells. Just be sure to keep your pup on a leash at all times, as some areas of the park can be quite crowded. There are two designated areas that are 24-hour dog-off-leash zones: Balboa Dr. at El Prado, Nate's Point, south side of Cabrillo Bridge and the Morley Field dog park, northwest of tennis courts.


Sunset Cliffs Natural Park


These beautiful trails stretch along the Pacific Ocean and offer stunning views as you make your way through the trails. With the sea caves, bluffs, and arches, it’s one of the most beautiful hiking views in San Diego.


Tijuana River Valley Regional Park


A small dog walking on a dog friendly hiking trail in San Diego


Tijuana River Valley Regional Park is a great option for those looking for an easy hike with their dog. Located just south of the city, this park offers over 20 miles of trails, as well as beautiful views of the valley and the ocean. Dogs are required to be on a leash at all times in this park. And with plenty of picnic areas and restrooms, it's easy to make a day of it.


Timing is everything


There are a few things to consider when planning to hike with your dog in San Diego. The first is the weather. San Diego generally has mild weather, but it can get very hot during the summer months. It's important to make sure your dog will be comfortable hiking in warm weather. Fall and spring are usually the best times to hike with your dog in San Diego. Finally, consider what time of day you want to go hiking. Early morning or evening hikes are usually the best, as the temperatures will be cooler and there will be less people on the trails.


Get Your Tails on the Trails!


San Diego is a great place to hike with your dog, and there are plenty of trails to choose from. Just be sure to follow the tips above to make the most of your hike. And if you're ever in need of a break from the sun, be sure to check out some of San Diego's many dog-friendly breweries - your pup will thank you for it!