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10 Dog-Friendly Trails in San Diego in 2023 (With Pictures)


Apr 26, 2023
A grey dog being walked down a dirt path on leash in California


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A grey dog being walked down a dirt path on leash in California

If you love staying active, few cities can beat San Diego, California, when it comes to opportunities for outdoor adventures. San Diego is an excellent place for hikers of all skill levels with various landscapes to explore and beautiful weather year-round. Dog lovers will be happy to learn that many trails in and around San Diego also welcome their canine friends. Here are 10 dog-friendly trails in San Diego that you can explore in 2023.


The 10 Dog-Friendly Trails in San Diego

1. Mission Trails Regional Park

  • 8,000-acre park with over 60 miles of trails for different skill levels
  • Can get crowded on weekends
  • Parking and restrooms are available
  • Minimal shade on most trails
  • Limited water is available, so bring your own

2. Piedras Pintadas Trailhead

  • An easy hike around a lake with plenty of parking
  • A good option for hiking with kids
  • Also a popular mountain biking trail, so stay alert
  • Bring your own water and waste bags
  • Portable restrooms only

3. Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve

  • A popular park with 11 miles of trails located just north of San Diego
  • Dogs must be on a leash 6 feet or shorter
  • Horses and bikes also use the trails
  • Limited parking that fills up quickly on weekends
  • Beautiful views from many trails

4. Blue Sky Ecological Reserve

  • Well-maintained park and trails located northeast of San Diego
  • The canyon location provides decent shade
  • Limited parking on location, but neighborhood parking options are nearby
  • Portable restrooms only
  • Dogs not allowed on Creekside Trail

5. Tecolote Canyon Natural Park

🗺️ Address: 📍 5180 Tecolote Rd, San Diego, CA 92110
🕐 Open Times: Trail hours not posted, visitor center open 9 AM – 4 PM Tuesday—Saturday, 9 AM—2 PM on Sunday, closed Mondays
💲 Cost: Free
🐕 Off-Leash: No
  • Easily accessible park with 6.5 miles of trails
  • Can be muddy with creek crossings after rain
  • Some shade, but it can get hot
  • Watch out for rattlesnakes
  • Not the most scenic trail

6. San Dieguito Lagoon

  • Beautiful, easy hike with excellent birdwatching
  • Near dog-friendly North Beach in Del Mar
  • Parking is available at the trailhead or in nearby neighborhoods
  • Part of the Coast-to-Crest trail in San Diego County
  • Bring water and waste bags

7. Iron Mountain Trail

  • Popular, moderately challenging hike north of San Diego
  • Amazing views from the top, especially on clear days
  • Over 1,000 feet of elevation change on this trail
  • Minimal shade—be aware of the weather
  • Bring water and waste bags

8. Sunset Trail

9. Los Penasquitos Canyon

🗺️ Address: 📍 12020 Black Mountain Rd, San Diego, CA 92129
🕐 Open Times: Dawn to dusk—West Trailhead, 8 AM to sunset—East Trailhead
💲 Cost: Free at West Trailhead, $3/day at East Trailhead
🐕 Off-Leash: No
  • Mostly flat loop hike that follows a creek
  • The trail closes after rain due to regular flooding
  • Bring water and waste bags
  • Watch for mountain bikers and horses

10. Daley Ranch

  • Conservation space near San Diego featuring 25 miles of trails
  • Watch for mountain bikers and horses
  • Some waste bags are available, but bring your own to be safe
  • Pack your own water
  • The paved trails may get hot enough to burn your dog’s paws



These 10 dog-friendly trails in and around San Diego offer a variety of terrain sure to excite dogs and their humans. Remember to always pick up after your dog and follow leash laws carefully. Open space wilderness around San Diego is home to hazards such as rattlesnakes, coyotes, and mountain lions that could pose a threat to roaming dogs. Planning and preparation are essential to help you enjoy a fun day of hiking with your pups in San Diego.

Featured Image Credit: Leashbond, Shutterstock

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