Dog Hikes

San Diego is surrounded by spectacular landscape, and opportunities to explore the terrain with your dog abound. From the Anza Borrego Desert and Palomar Mountain State Parks to the Cleveland National Forest, leashed dogs are welcome on miles upon miles of scenic trails. In addition, there are several hiking opportunities within the city of San Diego itself.

Balboa Park offers a great escape right in the heart of the city. For a casual stroll, paved pathways lead through the manicured gardens and past sights such as the Old Globe Theatre and the Spreckles Organ Pavilion. Those seeking more of a challenge will enjoy exploring the miles of hiking trails through Florida Canyon, the Old Bridle Trail, Palm Canyon and more. Detailed maps are available on the park’s website,, and volunteers at the visitor’s center are happy to offer advice. Dogs must be leashed at all times with the exception of Balboa’s designated off leash dog parks.

man hiking with dog on leash

Mission Trails Regional Park has over 40 miles of hiking trails and an excellent information center with detailed trail information. The hike up Cowles Mountain, with its steep elevation climb, is not for sluggish dogs (or owners). However, your efforts will be rewarded with stunning views from the highest point within the city of San Diego limits. A flatter, but still scenic, alternative is the loop along the Oak Canyon and Grasslands Trails. At just under 3 miles, this route takes you past the historic Old Mission Dam and along the canyon floor. Dogs must be leashed at all times in the park.

Safety tips: Consult maps and signs before heading out on a hike with your dog, and obey local leash laws. Heed signs regarding local wildlife and potential hazards. Always bring ample water for both you and your dog.

trained dog with family on hike