North America Outdoors

5 Adventures For The San Diego Hiker

San Diego’s hiking scene is abundant with options for all types of hikers. With that said, I have chosen 5 cool spots appealing to those who are near Southern California, become excited over unmarked hidden gems and do not mind traveling a few hours for extraordinary experiences. At I am that person in a nutshell, and it is thrilling to share a few of my favorites with my fellow Dame Travelers!

Mushroom Caves: Encinitas, CA


Gorgeous wetlands and chirping birds pave the way to a sandy little spot in Encinitas. 15 minutes of trekking along the trail at the end of Solana Hills Drive will take you to a series of sandstone caves, known as Mushroom Caves. This unmaintained trail is for the adventurous soul seeking to add a quick hike to their day. Wearing shoes with traction will allow for a confident climb. Bringing a tiny backpack is the best option for packing light, as it will assist squeezing through narrow areas. Now that you are prepared, sandy walls tower above you to create narrow passages where caves hold sweeping viewpoints. It is easy to get to, small enough to explore in an hour and adds a memorable moment to your life.

Labyrinth: Carlsbad, CA


Labyrinths symbolize a reflective process representing your personal journey in life. Specifically, focusing on a journey to your center and back out into the world. The unspoken rule insists one walks the entire length of this rock lined path, without cutting across at any point during the meditative practice. The individual who spent time creating this particular labyrinth in Carlsbad, is entirely mysterious and that is so awesome. You can even create your own, if you feel compelled to do so. It is placed in front of a massive volcanic plug that is yours to explore too! Before beginning your trip, make sure to pack water, sunscreen and wear comfortable clothes.

Hot Springs: Apple Valley, CA

Hot springs

This hike is dedicated to the traveler who has a day off and wants to put in a little hard work resulting in a natural spa day. 3 hours north of San Diego is home to Bowen Ranch in Apple Valley, who’s owner provides safe access to natural hot springs. Arriving at the ranch through a bumpy dirt road, the owner will give tons of advice and a printed map similar to the ones you see at amusement parks (after charging a $5 parking fee, of course). Following his directions to the freezing river, it is time to discover the best way to cross the knee deep river. Holding everything above your head helps! After your legs have warmed up a bit, enjoy 5 natural hot springs with varying temperatures. This hike requires a full day if you want to thoroughly explore it therefore, I advise you to pack a lunch, change of clothes, bathing suit and a beach towel.

The Slot: Borrego Springs, CA

The Slot

2 hours and 30 minutes from San Diego’s bustling downtown drastically changes the landscape. Borrego Springs presents you with a rare slot canyon, known as The Slot. Slots are formed by water gushing through rock, creating tall and narrow canyons for us to discover. This unmarked trail begins after a slight turn onto a dirt road. Descending into the trench is a great time to mark your entrance, distinguishing where you started. A couple hundred feet later and the path narrows with the canyon growing taller above you. You know you have reached The Slot when you have to walk sideways to fit through. Only packing necessities (water and lunch) will help ease your way through. It is a spectacular trail with a few gravity defying formations that will leave you speechless. Bring along a light sweater during colder months, as the base of the canyon is 10-15 degrees cooler.

Ho Chi Minh Trail: La Jolla, CA

Ho Chi Minh Trail

In the beautiful town of La Jolla, another sandstone hidden gem is waiting for you to lay your eyes upon. You will encounter a wood slat you must walk across, a beautiful waterfall leading to a quick rope climb leading down to a nude beach. The trailhead is barely visible and tucked away in between two homes. The trail easily descends into a small trail surrounded by lush greenery. Crossing the wooden slat bridge brings you to what looks like a staircase made out of sandstone. At this slippery point, I recommend continuing barefoot or bringing along a pair of shoes with great traction. Eventually, your eyes will discover a beautiful waterfall to the left with the ocean in front on you. The only thing in between you and a sunny beach day is a knotted rope guiding you down the small cliff.

About the Dame Traveler:
I have decided to create my own corner of the WWW documenting the adventurous/curious/wandering/daydreaming ramblings of my mind.
I love feeding my insatiable curiosity and discovering hidden gems wherever I wander. I appreciate creative spirits collectively reshaping my perspective and inspiring my thoughts. I could sit for hours populating my mind with random facts from documentaries.
I am currently studying for my BA in business marketing, working the typical restaurant job and exploring on my days off!

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1 Comment

  • Reply Bailey at Weekends & Wanders March 9, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    I never knew all of these amazing hiking spots existed! My wanderlust is definitely kicking in. I want to explore all of these 🙂

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