Who hikes and climbs mountains on dates? Apparently we, in San Diego, do. There are quite a few hidden hiking gems around the area, and here are the top 9, as rated by San Diego Magazine.

Sunset Cliffs

This one is a moderate hike, and you’ll start at OB Dog Park, over to the OB Pier, and then ultimately weaving your way along Niagra and Sunset Cliffs Blvd. Bonus points if you wait til later in the day and catch the sunset. It is roughly 6 miles.

Old Sea World Drive

Not into all the people? You’ll love this one that’s off the beaten path, still with ocean breezes. This dirt trail along the San Diego “river,” you’ll turn onto it before Friars and Sea World Drive. Proceed west and at the end of the Quivira Jetty, you’ll experience 4.5 miles of insider heaven. It’s an easy one.

Torrey Pines

A moderate hike, you’ll start in the Torrey Pines State Reserve lot on North Torrey Pines Road. Keep going on the dirt trail south into the park. Any of the trails lead to the edges of Torrey Pines’ ocean cliffs. From the parking lot around Guy Fleming and back is just under 2 miles.

San Diego Trails – Iron Mountain

I won’t lie, Iron Mountain is challenging. A little farther inland you start at the rustic wooden gate. Keep going and you’ll climb up and out of the woods as you head to the top, with scenic views along the way. Total distance is just over 6 miles.

Volcan Mountain Trail

Not as challenging as Iron Mountain, this 5-mile rugged inland hike starts with a unique gateway designed by local artist James Hubbell. The top has stunning views of Iron Mountain, Mount Woodson, and beautiful wildflowers at the right time of the year. Start at the gravel road to the trailhead off the 78, just north of downtown Julian.

El Cajon Mountain

Eleven miles and challenging, El Cajon Mountain is one of San Diego County’s most difficult peaks and the trail to get there goes up, then down, then up, then down, then has a final steep climb to the top. A warning: Start early and don’t go in the summer months—in fact, the trail is closed in August. There are signs along the way that show you how far you’ve come, and how far you still have to go. And there’s a reason they call it El Cajon MOUNTAIN!

Daley Ranch

Easier and more low-key are my middle names, which is why I love Daley Ranch. Up in North County, you’ll begin at the parking lot on La Honda Drive and follow the Ranch House Trail to the East Ridge loop. Then pass a small pond along the way, and can keep meandering on different trails for as long as you choose. It is under 2.5 miles and perfect for a picnic.

Lake Miramar

The nice thing about Lake Miramar is it is perfect for a jog or bike instead of a hike. This 5-mile path is flat and follows a loop that hugs the lake the entire way. As you cross the dam on the western side of the lake, you’re treated to a picturesque view all the way to La Jolla. Plus, there are benches to stop along the way. Perfect for a picnic and some wine.

Balboa Park Seven Bridges Hike

There’s good reason Children’s Holiday Magic Project chose Seven Bridges as their annual fundraiser – beyond being beautiful it lends itself to being social and savoring the sights. First it’ll take you across all seven pedestrian bridges scattered around Balboa Park and Bankers Hill. Start in Balboa Park’s Rose Garden and take the bridge over Park Boulevard. Walk west through the park on El Prado to Cabrillo Bridge over the 163. Keep going on Laurel Street till you hit First Avenue, then turn right and you’ll find the First Avenue Bridge. Take a right on Quince Street and cross the Quince Street Bridge. From there, turn left on Fourth Avenue, another left on Spruce Street, and you’ll come to the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge (it moves as you walk, so you may want to grab your date’s hand!). It’s a long way to the next one: Make your way back north and east until you come to University Avenue. (If you hit Sixth Avenue first, just head north). Take University east (you’ll cross over the 163 again, but that bridge doesn’t count!) to Vermont Street and turn left. Past the Trader Joe’s you’ll find the Vermont Street Bridge. On the other side, turn right on Lincoln Avenue and head all the way to Georgia Street, turn right again, and take the short Georgia Street Bridge over University Avenue. Last is a right on Robinson Street and a left on Park Boulevard to get back where you started.

Thanks to San Diego Magazine for the original article.

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