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

Updated: May 21


Small white dog with black ears standing on a log on a hiking trail

If you're looking for some great dog-friendly hikes in San Diego County, you've come to the right place. In this 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 right in San Diego County!

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.

Map of dog friendly hikes in San Diego County
Map Courtesy of Google Earth

15 Dog-Friendly Hikes in San Diego

Large fluffy Husky sitting on a hiking trail

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.


Two dogs taking a break from hiking at 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.


Pomeranian sniffing the flowers at Lake Poway hiking trails.

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.


Woman giving her dog a treat on the hiking trail in Del Mar

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 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.


Two dogs excited to be on a hiking trail in nature

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 dog friendly hiking spots in San Diego! 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.



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.



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!


Two dogs on the Mission Trails Regional Park 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.



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.



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 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.



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 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.



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.


Small dog hiking at Tijuana River Valley Regional Park

Tijuana River Valley Regional Park is a great option for those looking for an easy dog friendly hike. Located just south of the city of San Diego, 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!


Want to learn more about hiking with your dog? Check out our Dog Adventure Guide section on taking your dog hiking. We cover tips, tricks, and preps you'll need to make the most of your adventure.


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