Looking for kid-friendly, easy hikes in San Diego to get outdoors and soak up some vitamin D? We’ve got you covered with our list of hiking trails in San Diego that you can venture out on with your kids. Let's hit the trail!MoreLess
This beautiful and scenic trail is 2.1 miles and good for all skill levels. Accessible year-round, in addition to hiking, visitors also like to stroll and bird watch along the path. Dogs on a leash are welcome too.
Need an easy getaway from the city? San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy is a beautiful place to enjoy the serenity of nature. The one mile, ADA accessible loop gives toddlers and preschoolers the chance to get their socks dusty and experience a first hike. The Nature Center is a perfect starting point with bathrooms for a last minute pre-hike potty break and shade. Bring binoculars for excellent bird sightings.
An urban adventure awaits in Tecolote Canyon where the trail is relatively flat and easy to navigate for all ages. You’ll find lots of lizards, birds and even hidden gems… golf balls! Since the canyon is adjacent to the golf course, treasure abounds. This is a popular spot for geocaching too. Your little monkeys will go wild for the great climbing trees along the trail. Pack a picnic, hang out in the shade and listen to the birds.
Some of the best views in San Diego can be seen from the easy trails here, along with caves and rocks for clambering around. The lot charges a $15 parking fee, but you can find parking along the beach if you wait long enough (but the steep climb from beach parking to the hiking trails may tire out young hikers). The simplest route to explore is the Guy Fleming Trail, perfectly suited to youngsters.
Spot the big red barn and you'll find this kid-friendly nature hike. Even more, there's a playground and critters to look at inside the nature center. The hike is paved close to the center, then turns into a trail hike all the way to the pond. If you decide to go all the way to the pond it's about 40 minutes. This nature hike and center is perfect for little kids.
A popular San Diego 5.4-mile loop trail that's best for bigger kids that are used to a good hike. The hike starts through a beautiful tree forest and be on the lookout for border collies herding the sheep. There are switchbacks and an elevation climb of 1,102 feet and it gets crowded on the weekend. Even more, when you get to the top the view is well worth it. Remember to bring plenty of water and snacks.
Take a simple two-mile tour and see tide pools, Old Point Loma lighthouse and a breathtaking view of downtown San Diego... all with the kids in tow. History buffs will enjoy the statue of Cabrillo himself. The entrance fee per car is $15 (pass is valid for 7 days) and the park closes at 5 p.m. (tide pools close at 4:30 p.m.) An annual pass is $30.
Take your time meandering along this wide, easy to navigate, flat trail located in Poway. The first mile of the hike begins under the shade of beautiful oak trees and is a perfect, comfortable jaunt for you and the kiddos, big and small. It’s time to stop once the trail begins to climb steeply uphill in full sun. Take a picnic to enjoy at the picnic tables at the end of the shaded trail. Stay on the path to avoid poison oak. Easy parking in the lot.
This wide, flat four-mile lagoon trail is great for little walkers, dogs and jogging strollers. More of a flat walk than a hike, it's a little more than 3 miles roundtrip and a perfect first “hike” for tots. Don’t be dismayed by the traffic noise. As you venture further, you’ll feel more in touch with nature as you meander along the water, through the eucalyptus and along the golf course and learn about local wildlife at the educational signs along the way.
Work your quads along the sunny Lake Poway Loop Trail. You’ll trek along wide dirt trails and encounter some steep spots along the way. Take a load off at one of the benches along the 2.5 miles and enjoy a snack with a gorgeous view of the lake. Keep your eyes open for signs of wildlife including squirrels, lizards, hummingbirds and hawks. Coyotes often roam the trails and rattlesnakes too, so it's best if you leave your dog at home and stick to the main trails with your kiddos.
Ready to discover a hidden waterfall in the largest canyon in San Diego? Los Penasquitos offers a mostly flat hike leading to an easily accessible waterfall and creek. Sure-footed hikers will fare best since you’ll need to climb along the rocks at times and walk about 6 miles roundtrip to enjoy the falls. Or, you can park on Del Vino Ct. for the shortest route to the waterfall, shortening the trek to about 2.5 miles roundtrip (recommended for those hiking with young kids).
At about two-and-a-half miles roundtrip, this leisurely hike is one of 18 open space areas in San Diego, completely free of development. It is well maintained with small wildlife and a nice, big oak tree where kids can scrounge for acorns. Keep an eye out for poison oak.
Climb the highest peak in the county with kids? It’s possible! Elementary school kiddos who have proven their stamina on shorter jaunts love the challenge. Loose gravel fills these trails, so lace up your best walking shoes. Get an early start to avoid heat and crowds. Ready for a heart-pumping 3-mile steady climb? Bring plenty of water and a favorite snack as fuel. Be prepared for little climbers to need to stop along the way.
For a more adrenaline-fueled hiking adventure that's off the beaten path, more experienced climbers will get a kick navigating the slot canyons along Annie's Canyon Trail in the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve. The trail includes some rock climbing as it narrows and you have to scale rock walls to proceed to a cave and then carry on before ending up at a stunning ocean view. You can choose between moderate or strenuous trails, but this adventure is best suited for kids ages 7 and up.
As if Balboa Park wasn't epic enough for being California's Best Attraction and home to some of the best museums, theaters and restaurants in the city––it also has an abundance of gorgeous hiking trails! If the kiddos still have energy after a day exploring Balboa Park, then take them to stroll down the easy 1.5 mile Trail #1. Start at 6th Ave. and Upas St. and follow the #1 green circle markers. There are 65 miles of trails in Balboa Park, so you'll have plenty of options to explore.
With over 60 miles of trails, boating and camping, there’s something for everyone at Mission Trails. Easy parking, lots of animal life and a huge variety of trails to choose from make this the ideal destination for families. This is a dog-friendly park but watch for rattlesnakes. Pro Tip: Keep your eye to the sky for military practice flights that often run overhead.
Young hikers will enjoy the trail that loops around Chollas Lake in Southeast San Diego. It's 2.2-miles around the whole lake, but you can go as far as you'd like. You'll find cool eucalyptus trees plus fellow walkers and runners. There are plenty of butterflies and geese about. Even more, there is a small playground, drinking fountains and bathrooms. Parking is free.