8 Best Dog-friendly Hikes in San Diego

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San Diego has a ton of amazing hiking trails, but most of these hikes aren’t dog-friendly. That’s why we’re sharing our favorite dog-friendly hikes in San Diego.

We chose these hikes because they offer a variety of terrain, scenery, and difficulty levels, so whether you have a puppy with energy to burn or a senior dog who prefers a more leisurely stroll, you’ll find a hike suitable for any type of dog. Plus, these hiking trails are within an hour’s drive of downtown San Diego.

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Related Reading: 13 Tips for Hiking with Dogs

Check out these dog-friendly hiking trails near San Diego that offer stunning views on your next adventure!

#1. La Jolla Cove Trail

La Jolla Cove Walking Trail

This hike takes you past gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean and offers plenty of opportunities for swimming. There are several places to stop and swim along the trail, plus you can bring your dog off leash here.

San Diego’s La Jolla Cove Trail is located near the Torrey Pines State Reserve. It’s easy to reach this dog-friendly trail via bus or car; however, if you’d prefer to walk, you can park near the trailhead and follow the signs along the road. There are multiple parking spots available, making it convenient for visitors who arrive early or late.

This hike is perfect for dog owners who want to enjoy the outdoors while keeping their furry friends safe and happy. It’s the perfect spot for a day out with your dogs to enjoy the spectacular views of the sea. Plus popular restaurants are conveniently nearby for after your awesome adventure.

Related Reading: The Ultimate Northern California Road Trip in 3 Days

#2. Black Mountain Open Space Preserve

Black Mountain Open Space Park hiking with a dog

Black Mountain Open Space Preserve is one of the largest open spaces in San Diego County. This preserve is known for its diverse wildlife, especially bird species. Go on a 2.5-mile hiking trail adventure with your dog and enjoy awesome 360-degree views of natural beauty.

The centrepiece of the park is the 554-feet high summit of Black Mountain, which offers panoramic vistas of the surrounding area. From there, you and your dog can see the Pacific Ocean to the northwest, mountains to the northeast, downtown San Diego to the southeast, and the city skyline to the southwest.

Both my bod and I enjoyed the breeze as we hiked up to the summit and took in all the different types of birds we got to see along the way.

Related Reading: Top 7 Hikes in Death Valley California

#3. Mission Trails Regional Park

Mission Trails Regional Park in San Diego California

Mission Trails Regional Park is a popular park for hikers, bikers, runners, and horseback riders. Located in Rancho Bernardo, this park features miles of trails for each of the above activities. 

Take your canine companion for a quick, natural escape from the urban hustle and bustle. This beautiful park covers more than 8,000 hectares (20,000 ac) of land, including rugged hillside trails, valleys, and open spaces.

My dog got really excited with all the open spaces. Unfortunately, there are no off-leash areas here but she still had plenty of room to roam with her 8 feet leash. I know its tempting to just let them run wild but be warned that an unleashed dog can cost you up tp $250 in penalty.

There are three main entrances to Mission Trails Regional Park. Two of those entrances are located in Rancho Bernardo and the third entrance is located in Poway. All three entrances provide parking and restrooms, and each entrance has a visitor center.

Related Reading: Virtual Hikes: The Best Way To Hike Without Leaving Home

#4. Mount Laguna Wilderness Park

dog hiking at Mount Laguna Wilderness Park

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Mount Laguna Wilderness Park is a small park located in Solana Beach, California. This park provides visitors with scenic views of the ocean and surrounding mountains. Sunset Trail and Pioneer Mail Trail are the two dog-friendly trails in Mount Laguna. 

The Sunset Trail is an easy three-mile hike through the Laguna Mountains that takes about two and a half to three and a half hours to complete with your four-legged friend. You can connect with the nine-and-a-half-mile round trip out-and-back trail by taking the Sunset Trail and then continuing onto the Big Laguna Trail.

Sunset Trail’s Big Laguna is the place for you to take your canine companion to run off-leash as it doesn’t have large crowds.

Pioneer Mail Trail does require to have an adventure pass. It takes about one and a half hours to complete and rewards you with a breathtaking view of the surrounding landscape. Anza Borrego Desert State Park lies 3,000 feet below you, and the mountains stretch as far as the eye could see to the east and west.

There are four main entrances to Mount Laguna Wilderness Park. Three of those entrances are located near Solana Beach and the fourth entrance is located in Encinitas. Each entrance provides parking and restrooms.

The first two entrances to Mount Laguna wilderness park are located near Solana Village Shopping Center and Solana Beach Boulevard. The last two entrances to Mount Lagunare wilderness park are located near Del Mar Plaza and Solana Beach Boulevard East.

Related Reading: Hiking in Yosemite: The Best Reason To Visit This National Park

#5 Ocean Beach Park Trail

Ocean Beach Park for Dogs

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This trail is dog friendly, meaning dogs are allowed off-leash. The park offers many different trails, including this one, which is popular among dog owners. The beach is located at the north end of Mission Bay Park, just south of Pacific Highway (aka. State Route 94).

If you’re looking for a great place to take your dog for some exercise, Ocean Beach Park is a perfect fit. This park is located near downtown San Diego, making it convenient for most people who live in the area.

There are plenty of benches along the path where you can sit down and relax after a long walk. And there are several restaurants nearby, so you won’t be too far away from food when you need a break.

And because this is a city park, you can expect to find plenty of other dog lovers out enjoying the day. So bring your pooch and join them! This popular dog beach is open daily from sunrise to sunset. Dogs must be leashed between 10 am and 5 pm. There are no lifeguards on duty, so please keep your pets safe.

Dogs are allowed off-leash on Ocean Beach except from Sloat Boulevard to Stairwell 21, where leashes are required.

If you’re looking for a place to take your pup for some exercise, this is a great option.

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#6 Fiesta Island Trail

Fiesta Island Trail in Mission Bay Park San Diego

Fiesta Island is a dog-friendly hike located in Mission Bay Park in San Diego. The trail is perfect for dogs because there are no stairs, and it’s only 1 mile long. There are plenty of benches along the trail where you can sit down and take a break.

There are several different trails at Fiesta Island, including the Dog Beach Trail, the Nature Trail, and the Sunset Trail. Each trail offers beautiful views of the bay and ocean.

If you’re staying at one of our hotels in San Diego, you can always take your pet with you. From Interstate 5, drive southbound on Highway 101 until you reach the Sea World Drive exit. Take the Sea World Drive exit, and continue westward until you reach Fiesta Island. You can park for free throughout the entire island.

Related Reading: 16 Best Hiking Backpacks: Our Top Picks For Every Budget

#7 Balboa Park

dogs playing at Balboa park

San Diego’s Balboa Park is home to many dog-friendly hiking trails. The park offers plenty of space for dogs to run free and play. There are several dog parks within the park where owners can let their four-legged friends stretch their legs.

There are also numerous hiking trails throughout the park that allow dogs to join their human companions. Some of these trails are short and simple, while others take hikers through beautiful forests and across scenic bridges.

Balboa Drive at El Prado west of Cabrillo Bridge, Morley Field northwest of the tennis courts, and  Grape Street Park near Granada Avenue are some of the areas your dogs can roam free.

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#8 Tecolote Canyon Trail

Woman hiking at Tecolote Canyon Trail with a dog

There are many dog-friendly hiking trails in San Diego County. Tecolote Canyon Trail is located near Escondido, California. This trail offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and desert landscape.

The trail itself is not too strenuous but be prepared for some steep inclines and descents. The trail is 2 miles long and takes about 1 hour to complete. The weather is great all year round. Dogs are very much welcomed but must be on their leash along the 6.5 miles of scenic trails in this lovely canyon.

There are several ways to access this trail. One option is to drive to the end of the road where there is a parking lot. Another option is to park at the top of the canyon and hike down. This option requires a bit more effort because you need to climb over rocks and brush. But it’s worth it because you won’t be bothered by cars driving past.

If you’re looking for a longer hike, consider taking your dog to Palomar Mountain. There are multiple trails to choose from including the Palomar Peak Trail, the Palomar Mountain Loop Trail, and the Palomar Mountain Summit Trail. These trails range between 5 and 10 miles each so make sure to bring plenty of water.


Now that you know the best dog-friendly hikes in San Diego, go hit the trails with your furry for a fun day of exercise for both of you. 

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