• Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

13 Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails in Southern California You Can Visit (2023 Guide)


May 30, 2023
Dog Outdoors Hiking in Woods Mixed Breed Labrador Rescue Puppy on a Sunny Day in the Park


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Dog Outdoors Hiking in Woods Mixed Breed Labrador Rescue Puppy on a Sunny Day in the Park

If your dog isn’t a fan of the beach, why not spend time together enjoying some of Southern California’s excellent hiking? Mountains, forests, and deserts can all be found just a short drive from most residential areas in Southern California, sometimes even within city limits! Here are 13 dog-friendly hiking trails in Southern California that you can explore in 2023.


The Top 13 Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails in Southern California

1. Paramount Ranch

  • Features several loop trails with minimal elevation gains and lovely views
  • Horseback riders also use the trails
  • Plenty of free parking, bathrooms, and water are available
  • Previously the site of an old West town set used in movie productions
  • A good spot to hike with kids

2. Runyon Canyon Trail

  • One of the most popular trails for dogs
  • Limited street parking is available
  • Off-leash dogs are allowed along part of the trail
  • 7-mile loop trail with limited shade
  • Bring your own water

3. Wisdom Tree Trail

  • A hard, 3.9-mile loop trail located in Griffith Park
  • Street parking only
  • Bring your own water and waste bags
  • The trail can be steep, slippery, and overgrown
  • Amazing views from the top

4. Escondido Falls Trail

  • A very popular hiking spot with a seasonal waterfall
  • A shady, moderate 3.7-mile out-and-back trail
  • Watch out for mud and multiple water crossings, especially after rain
  • Bring your own water and waste bags
  • Watch out for bikers and horses along this trail

5. Aliso Summit Trail

  • A 4-mile, moderate, out-and-back trail
  • Gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean
  • Street parking only
  • Bring your own water and waste bags
  • Tends to be less crowded early in the morning

6. Black Star Canyon Falls Trail

  • A challenging, 6.7-mile out-and-back trail that gets crowded fast
  • Rock scrambling and climbing are required on the second half of the trail
  • Small dogs may need help on the rocks
  • Protect your pup’s feet with hiking booties
  • Bring water and waste bags

7. Pratt, Foothills, and Fox Canyon Loop Trail

  • A moderate, 3.1-mile loop trail near the vacation destination of Ojai
  • No water or restrooms are available
  • Street parking only
  • Minimal shade—avoid hiking when it’s hot
  • Often has lots of bugs

8. Mission Creek Preserve

  • Wildlife preserve near Palm Springs with 17 miles of trails
  • Beautiful desert landscape
  • Parking, restrooms, water, and picnic areas are available
  • Rattlesnakes, black bears, and mountain lions inhabit the preserve

9. Potato Mountain Wilderness Trail

  • Moderate, 5.2-mile out-and-back trail with beautiful views
  • Limited parking at the trailhead
  • No facilities—bring your own water
  • Rocky terrain, but the trail is well-maintained.
  • Pack your used waste bags out—many people don’t

10. Big Horn Mine Trail

  • A moderate, 3.7-mile out-and-back trail in the Angeles National Forest
  • Limited parking is available
  • No water or restrooms
  • Not much shade on the trail
  • The trail is rocky and slippery in places—be careful

11. Sunset Trail

🗺️ Address: 📍Sunrise Hwy, Mt. Laguna, CA 91948
🕐 Open Times: Dawn to dusk
💲 Cost: Adventure Pass required to park in Cleveland National Forest– $5/day or $30/year
🐕 Off-Leash: No
  • An 8.0-mile loop hike over relatively easy terrain
  • Multiple options to shorten the hike
  • Bring water and waste bags
  • You’ll share the trail with mountain bikers
  • You’ll travel through meadows, forests, and near a pond

12. Mount Woodson Trail

  • A moderate, 7.4-mile out-and-back trail near San Diego
  • Offers beautiful views and the famous Potato Chip rock formation
  • No shade or water and can get very hot
  • Best for more experienced hikers in hot weather
  • Great workout to help you and your dog get in shape for long-distance hikes

13. Volcon Mountain Trail

  • A moderate, 4.9-mile out-and-back trail near San Diego
  • Follows an old road near an abandoned mining town
  • Gorgeous views of mountains and the desert
  • Bring your own water
  • Can get windy at the top



The amenities at these 13 hiking trails in Southern California vary considerably. To be safe, always bring water and waste bags. Keep your dog on a leash except where posted for their own safety and to protect local wildlife. Southern California is home to many predators and snakes who pose a threat to your pup. Stay alert, be prepared, and always pay attention to the weather. These precautions can help you and your dog safely enjoy the beauty of Southern California.

Featured Image Credit: N K, Shutterstock

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