Explore the most popular nature trips 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.

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

The less exciting portion of the trail is well worth the unexpected mushroom caves!

2 months ago

closed right now for construction

Getting here has become a major pain!! Two points of entry are shut down, however once you finally get to the trail the canyon is superb and well worth it. Had no idea something like that was sitting right in my backyard!

SO COOL! The actual canyon part is so amazing and not too challenging, but still a good work out! I loved seeing what everyone had carved into the sides and climbing up the ladder.

The connection to Annie's Canyon trail is closed due to construction along the 5 freeway.

Link to Orilla side closed due to freeway construction, lame. Otherwise Annie’s Canyon rocked.

Beautiful blue sky, and plenty of kiddo's heading up this trail on a Saturday! Pretty packed, but still enough breaks in between people to breathe and get some fun shots. Went in through North Rios Avenue, went right up through the canyon and out through the switchbacks and back again.

cool hike.. the narrow canyon is amazing !

This is a heavily used trail, but it was nice. I will go back when the construction is over.

Short, but sweet!

Loved it! Great trail and the look out point is awesome!

It’s a fun place.

Beautiful canyon rocks. It’s definitely worth to explore.

Love the canyon! We Opted Outside on Black Friday as did many others. It will be even better with less people squeezing through.

unique canyon hike with some pretty impressive rock formations. you can hear the cars on the highway in some parts, but worth it!

Pretty easy hike. Going through the canyon slot was cool. We originally wanted to get there via La Orilla trail but due to construction near the I-5 we couldn’t.

Too many non-connected dead ends on the west side

We hiked up the moderate side first and then the sandstone canyon side. Both go to the same top location but the canyon side is much more narrow and steep. I didn’t see One so maybe there should be a NO DOGS sign at the bottom of the slot canyon side. There was a sign about half way up. The couple behind us brought their dog and ended up having to carry it up the ladder part. Very lovely trail overall and we will hike it again soon.

Very unique hike. A must do in north county.

Great trail took my 8 and 10 year old and it was not too difficult for them. Wish it was longer :-)

Surprised narrow canyon walk

The majority of the hike is fairly flat and quite easy, with beautiful lagoon views and lots of nature. The actual slot canyon trail is strenuous, but short, and the family enjoyed it so much that we went through a second time.

This trail is more of a walk than a hike. The lagoon is beautiful and the path is lined with trees and sometimes flowers. Lots of birds and small wildlife to be seen. This is a great family trip, especially with the opportunity to visit the nature center.

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