Explore the most popular hiking trails in San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Been living here my whole life and didn’t know this trail existed until this plastic summer, hidden from the hustle and bustle of Del Mar and Solana Beach with beautiful scenery and fun cave hiking. Pretty narrow but very kid friendly.

Rating this a 5 because it’s so close to Solana Beach/Cedros Ave, but you feel completely out of any city. The slot is really cool! I was wearing my 14 month old in a backpack and alone, didn’t see anybody else there, and halfway through the slot I got a little worried about how steep it might be for me. I followed my gut and turned around and went up the other side. Saw pictures on insta that some people brought their kids in there and had no problems, but didn’t want to take the chance since I was alone. Will definitely be coming back soon just to make it through or trade off watching the kiddo. I went on on weekday morning and hardly anybody on the trail, I’m sure it’s busy on the weekend though so start early or early evening for a sunset view.

Very cool trail! The trails that go under the freeway are temporarily closed while they work on the overpass. The slot canyon is strenuous but fun, great place for photos.

Very nice!

Very pleasant easy hike with patches of shade, a bit of water, and birds.

Busy on weekends but still a nice walk

This is our favorite place to go for a walk with our three toddlers. The inner loop is 1/3 mile, with views of the water, birds, and fish jumping out of the water. Several benches make for good spots for a break and a snack. The elevated wooden path is fun for kids to walk along. We did the inner loop only today by taking the first left back to the nature center, bisecting the larger loop, but you can walk the outer path for a little more distance, walk it twice (once taking the inner and once the outer way back), or you can walk it like a figure 8. The nature center is great, with lots of child friendly exhibits and things to see at toddler eye level - and good info for adults too. And Franklin the tortoise and the teepee are always a hit too.
One note: there is construction on I-5 and in the lagoon itself. The end result is supposed to be better water flow in the lagoon and more trails for visitors. I’m sure it’ll be beautiful when it’s done (projected for 2020), but at the moment the construction work is visible and part of what you’ll walk by.

I love this trail! Make sure to bring bug spray though, the mosquitoes are voracious!

Great little trail! Took our 3 teens and they really enjoyed climbing they the canyon. Hidden gem in the hills of solana beach. Easy parking, trail is well marked and pet friendly up to climbing but you can turn back w your dog. Glad we took the time to check it out!

alot of fun. the trail is supposed to be a 1 way in, 1way out. so when you get to the sign... go to the right through the canyon, not the viewpoint. unless you just want to look out from the viewpoint. when you get into the narrows, you will understand why its a 1 way trip. but alot of fun. can do it over n over.

For a virtual hike: https://youtu.be/Pnpp_KlVWOc

This trail is amazing. There is an easy reward exploring and climbing through the crevices. There were a good number of people, but not enough to make it crowded. The formations of rock are simply stunning and walking along the lagoon is a peaceful pleasure. I highly recommend this one! If I find myself back in San Diego area, I'll come back for sure.

Music for the Trail: https://sptfy.com/Hzm

Great for when you want to just do a quick trip!

Very fun hike. Perfect for kids.

Not a bad hike! Very sandy though. While dogs are allowed on a leash they aren’t allowed in the slot canyon. There’s not a sign that tells you no dogs in the slot canyon until you’re already in. Plus it’d be difficult to go with a dog in the canyon anyways.

3 months ago

Short but easy trail.. had lots of fun with my group!!

Nice hike but kind of creepy is too alone

First time here. Came with the wife and 3 friends. A short but fun little hike. Did the loop twice. Would definitely come back.

Hiked this trail for the first time over the weekend with my 7 year old daughter! We had a blast! Definitely will be going back.

Fun family hike. Even my 14 year old boy liked it.

Kids loved it and hiked the loop twice.

Awesome adventure with my kiddos. We went through the slot canyon and mushroom caves twice. The rest of the trail is flat but the lower portion has nice views of the salt marsh.

Fun, short but sweet hike. Took the loop twice.

Short and sweet. A hidden gem.

I’ve done this hike twice in 2 weeks—once with my dog and the following weekend with my 10 yo son. I recommend going without a dog because you cannot take a dog through the canyon area. You can only take a dog up to the view area at the top, but you miss out on the awesome canyon experience. My son really enjoyed going thru the canyon and climbing up to the top using the ladder. The reason that this is not 5 stars is that there wasn’t too much to the hike once you did the canyon. The rest of the trails were pretty flat and nothing special. I’d definitely recommend it though. Kids especially will love it.

lots of fun . 45. minutes in and out through the salt marsh

Enter from the Trail Head entrance as the main gate has been closed due to lagoon construction. Overall it was an interesting but very short hike. The strenuous path through the canyon isn’t difficult. If you’re claustrophobic you might get a little overwhelmed. It’s too bad the lagoon construction has closed most of the trail outside the canyon.

There is plenty of street parking and if you’re still in the mood for a hike you can drive to other beach hikes nearby.

Trail closed as of today

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