A handful of trails in the San Diego area really do stand out if you’re looking for ways to find God in nature. Try these:
1) Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is the diamond of North San Diego County. The spectacular views and cool ocean breezes are impossible to beat. Climbing a fairly steep hill at first, it plateaus out to several separate trails that all reveal 180 degree ocean views from above the bluff. Truly astonishing!
2) Way Up Trail in Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve is for those that actually enjoy climbing a good hill. After some switchbacks through natural chaparral and riparian oaks, the Olivenhain Dam is widely visible. The hill views from up top are quite incredible.
3) San Elijo Lagoon is a lovely way to see some active bird life and stay as cool as possible on the coast. The trail starts at the mouth of the lagoon and continues inland through shady eucalyptus forest. The Lagoon Conservancy has recently created a brand new loop trail called Annie’s Slot Canyon that is SO fun, very steep and narrow but short and doable, revealing a view at the top of the entire lagoon!
4) Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve is lush after the rains and the wildflowers have been blooming. Once you’ve been on the trail for 5 minutes, you’ll feel like you’re wandering around in some remote wilderness with gentle rolling hills that end in a decent little waterfall. It’s magnificent!
5) Iron Mountain is a truly awesome, semi-strenuous and lengthy hike that winds through East County low chaparral with a steady rocky ascent on an openly exposed trail. Try hiking this trail on full moon evenings; climb up at dusk watching the sunset and moonrise, climb down in the full moonlight. You’ll be amazed at how bright the moonlight is – you can actually hike safely with just a flashlight. This is one of my favorite hikes in San Diego – day or night.