Looking for a great trail in San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve, California? AllTrails has 9 great hiking trails, walking trails, views trails and more, with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers, and nature lovers like you. Just looking to take a quick stroll? We've got 8 easy trails in San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve ranging from 1.4 to 5.3 miles and from 9 to 262 feet above sea level. Start checking them out and you'll be out on the trail in no time!



nature trips


kid friendly

dogs on leash

bird watching

trail running

wild flowers


Hours: sunrise to sunset

Lovely trail with a splendid climb through a sandstone slot canyon.

Great morning walk/hike with my 10 year old daughter. The canyon was super fun and not very difficult at all. The last segment is of the trail is closed due to construction but there is a secondary route to navigate through.

Great short and easy trail. We went up after work because I read the reviews of weekends and early in the day of the crowds. we got there at 6:30pm and saw about 7 people and 2 dogs. It was a fun and different hike. Be sure to wear good treads and bring water for you dog too. this will be our go to for out of town guests.

no shade
over grown
10 days ago

shor trail but really fun

over grown
12 days ago

Great short hike for weekday evenings. The route labeled 'strenous' involves scrambling through a narrow slot canyon. View from the top is very nice.

Great fun quick hike! Very narrow if you decide to take the “strenuous” route! Take the moderate route if you have a medium/big size dog! Also be sure to wear good shoes to climb on rocks and so fourth.

Beautiful hike. Take the moderate trail if you are claustrophobic, though.

Short but uniquely awesome!

Really just a flat stroll with the option of a funky little stretch of climb through the slot canyon. The canyon part is cool though.

The canyon is pretty narrow so a big guy like me does tend to scrape shoulders and legs on the sides of the canyon but even so it's well worth the hike. We took both our kids 7 and 3 and they both made the hike through the canyon no problem. They love the many ”caves” I was able to carry them up and into for pictures. Do wear shoes with a solid sole as the sandstone is very slippery.

Pretty trail and unique activity with the canyon and ladder but super overcrowded and the whole trail is roped off so can only follow the man made trail.

Short, but fun unique little trail.

Fun quick family hike!

Fri 5/17/19 12.45-1.20pm. easy fun trail. do the one-way route thru the canyon for maximum fun.

I love the simple trail. I’m going to walk it again tomorrow. I saw so much beautiful wildlife and felt wonderful refreshing breezes and experienced so many exotic smells.

Great short hike you could do on your lunch break. Local favorite because it’s close, easy and beautiful. Ocean and lagoon views, fun little canyon scramble - perfect if you’re on the way to or back from somewhere nearby. Avoid weekends at all costs. It gets peopley.

It is very easy to get to, and seemed like a short hike. I only give 4 stars because it’s a river of people stopping to take pictures while others try to climb around in the small space of the canyon. I would recommend going very early in the morning to enjoy the beauty of the hike.

Full shade walk in this lush nature preserve. Public lot with visitor center. Dogs allowed on leash. Very easy but excellent way to get in touch with nature.

very pretty during flower bloom in spring. Fairly easy with a little step climbing in one area.

Very cool! Found this trail by a happy accident and the little canyons were super beautiful and unique!

Lots of bird watching at almost any time of day. Nice short hike, mostly flat. Annie's Canyon (very tiny section) has some scrambling. Lots of graffiti. Constantly seeing people defacing the rock here, so sad and destructive.

So cool! The canyon climb at the end was an unexpected but welcome challenge to this fun little trail. We had 5 kids ages 3 - 10 with us who had a blast!

Don’t underestimate short trails. I was surprised with this one. Just amazing! The beauty is Beyond words. I will go again and hike the trail 3 more times.

nice easy trail. the actual canyon is short but pretty sweet and very tight. the back end of the trail towards the I5 is closed off by construction so if u do want to do full loop u have to hop some fences.

Great hike but crowded on weekends

Excellent hike! Narrow areas but quick to the top.

Super simple hike, get there early if you’re tryna beat the crowd. The slot canyon is really narrow, but I had my son on my back and was able to do it. So no one should have any issues. Bring water and a hat.

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