Explore the most popular nature trips trails in San Mateo Canyon Wilderness with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

I went with my friend and dog and this was definitely a hike! It’s pretty long, it took us about 6 hours total with a good amount of rest stops and picture taking, especially at the waterfall. I would recommend bringing as much water as you can, it gets tiring and can get hot. I went right after the few days of rain and the waterfall was gushing with water. It was beautiful and worth the hike. I would recommend wearing hiking boots.

We hiked this trail on May 6, 2018. Loved it! Easy and beautiful! Wished we got there earlier and could walk to the very end before the sun went down. Next time we will!

9 days ago

Did this hike with my two dogs. The last quarter mile is a steep scramble as the trail narrows and the vegetation is thick. Once at the top the views are great.

11 days ago

We did this trail after a day of rain expecting to see some flow but there wasn't much of a waterfall. I'm guessing there has to be some significant rain for the waterfall to be flowing. Nevertheless, it was a cool short hike and nice to get out the city. The long road to get to the trail head was kind of sketch since it was a one lane with a few turnouts just in case another car is coming.

I made a quick video of our hike on youtube, hope you guys check it out! Just copy and paste the link below! Sub and follow my IG @mario.tv16

11 days ago

Did this hike with my two dogs. Relatively easy hike except the last half mile.

We started hiking at 10am and 59 degrees outside. Perfect weather for this hike. We loved the back and forth along the trail of shade to no shade. It took my sister and I 4 hours to complete the hike to the falls and back to the parking lot. Even though it rained 3 days ago there was no flowing water in the falls. There was only a trickle coming down the face. The trail was damp, but not muddy. Be warned, due to the government shut down the trailhead bathrooms are closed. But the good thing is you don’t need an Adventure Pass to park at the trailhead due to the government shutdown.

14 days ago

Decent easy/moderate trail. Rocky at some spots. Some really great views of the surrounding mountains. Lots of broken glass and graffiti at the falls itself.

Would recommend again

Nice 10.5 mile jaunt! Nothing too intense until the last .5 miles to summit. Relatively easy compared to other SoCal peaks. Definitely coming back here, made for a nice January morning stroll.

In New Year hike wit Alex Castro, Chato and me to SItton Peak in Cleveland National Forest, a total of 10 miles and elevation gain of 2,116ft. There were no too many people likely and it was really nice. It was really cold and windy but we have a very good time (Father and Kids), for the first time a used my JetFuel portable stove we have a very hot bowl of soup and a coffee. Honestly I was surprise with the stove when I paid $200.00 I thought I was rip off but a good lunch with my son and doing what I like it pay it off already. #hikerevolution, #hikingwithdogs, #fatherandson, #Chato, #Hike, #3h, #hike

great hike - not hard at all....my 6 yr old did it with no issues. i would rate this hike easy. the last incline can be challenging if you're unfit...

other than that, pretty cool place to trek through. also - watch out for the cats. they will test you so be careful.

great hike close by. the last 1/4 of a mile is steep and narrow. great winter hike.

great trail on last step section but a lot of level sections making it boring sometimes . Best views up top and a lot of green vegetation from bottom to top.Watch that last section lots of briar and steep and narrow

Thoroughly enjoyed this short hike in San Mateo Canyon. The views are splendid, most of the trail is easy and shade covered but the last mile it gets a little tougher. Unless you’re out of shape, I wouldn’t categorize this hike as ‘hard’ by any measure. More accurately, it’s moderate with about a half mile of challenging incline. Round trip you’re looking at 5 hours. There’s no fresh water along the trail so make sure to bring plenty of water- a must for summer. Definitely worth checking out!

Beautiful hike last1/2 mike very steep. Use you sticks and all will be fine. Watch the signage small white sticks.

This was a nice and slightly easier trail than those popular peaks! Very enjoyable and not too stressful on the knees. Saw large dogs with their owners hike too! The **last mile** is pretty slippery gravel, would be very difficult in rain.

Great hike. Take Bear Ridge on the way down. You will see some aluminum wreckage just before the steep climb to the peak. This is from a USMC Cobra helicopter that crashed in 1986. Semper Fi and RIP- 2 died. Lots of shade on the first part of the hike.

We started from the Fisherman Camp parking lot. There are only room for 4 or 5 cars. We hiked the Tenaja trail all the way to the Tenaja Falls. There are water in the steams but not at the Fall. One way distance is 4.5 miles. Round trip is 9 miles. It was a beautiful hike. We took the lower trail up and the Upper trail back.

We did an early morning hike and reached the peak before sunrise...which was spectacular!

Trailhead- don't forget to display your Adventure Pass for $5 or buy an annual pass at Big 5 for $30 and add a 2nd car pass for $5 and split the cost with a friend for only $17.50 if you hike a lot like me this is the best decision; the Bear Canyon Trailhead is located to the right of the candy store

Trail- it was in surprisingly good shape even with all the recent rains and it is pretty wide and well marked until the last half of a mile to the peak; there are times when the trail has a connecting trail and you just want to opt to the right each time...this happens at 1.0 miles in, again at the 2 mile mark, and then at about 3.2 miles you get to a spot that I think is called "4 Corners" and you take a sharp right to leave the Bear Canyon trail to use the Sitton Peak Trail; the trail for the most part is moderately steep at times with some breaks of flat areas or decline and only gets hard once you have done 4.5 miles where you will need to take a narrow trail that will be on your right and this part is pretty steep at times where you will be using your arms to balance and support yourself and this part is difficult for about .4 miles until you reach the peak...just take this part slowly and you will be rewarded at the peak

Peak- you will be rewarded with beautiful views to the west and east especially...we arrived shortly after 6 am since we started a little after 4am! It was a spectacular sunrise and we probably spent close to 45 mins at the top eating, drinking mimosas (we fancy hikers), and taking an abundance of pictures; there is a sign at the top with the name/elevation

Details/Recommendations: my recording calculated it as 4.9 to the peak and 9.8 miles RT; it took us a little over 2 hrs to the top and about 1 hr 45 mins down with us spending about 45-60 mins at the top so I would say give yourself around 5 hrs give or take an hour to complete this; hiking poles might be helpful for the difficult half mile near the peak but can be done without; of course have hiking shoes, some water (1-2L), and some snacks, this hike is moderately difficult and anyone who hikes somewhat regularly or exercises a bit will be able to do this...because of the nearly 10 miles total young children might get fatigued

Good hike, but do it early in the day if it’s going to be hot. You are exposed most of the day.

Beautiful drive up to trail. Perfect weather for a December hike up Bear Canyon Loop with pleanty of parking at the San Juan Trail across from the candy store you will see trail head. At the beginning of the trail recommend that you sign in & out of the book book.

It rained a few days prior I recommend you wait a few days after a rain. Very minimal mudd on the trail. Enjoy this is a good one!

 We started about 11am to beat the cold. Mostly up hill and has some nice view nice and greenery. More cooler areas as you get some elevation. I would rate it as slightly above moderate. Incline was manageable at a nice relaxed pace. Some narrow rocky areas, but generally maintained & easy to follow. Some strenuous narrow areas. I would have liked to see more written trail markers. 

Take a map & mark you trail up it is easy the vere off recommend trail. Take pleanty of water & snacks. 

Some very rutted trails. Amazing workout. Moderately trafficked hike. It actually locked in to 10mile hike down to Tenaja Tuck Trail is generally flat mostly down hill on the way down to Ortega Hwy. Careful on taking this route it will end up, to hwy with minimal trail back to parking area. Wasn't our initial plan. I recommend you stay on trail. With an experienced hiker to navigate your way down. Trail head is best, cause you run into some some private property areas. 

This is a hike I will do again. A fun hike with scenic views!

This was a nice, quiet trail. Ends up being a pretty good workout if you keep a good pace.

A great hike with some nice views, it actually clocks in at 7miles round trip. Advice: Hike in the morning to avoid the head (88F on our hike), Sign into the book at the start of the trail and sign off on coming down, bring 1.5L water per person, be sure to take Bear Ridge trail back, has the best views!

Great views from the summit. The hike is relatively easy, rather than as rated to be hard. The 1/10th mile section to the top is steep - and slippery when muddy. Take your time and pick your path carefully. Trekking poles are a great benefit for ascents and descents. Note that that section would be much more challenging, IMO, if you are hiking with small children or small dogs. If you have to carry either in your arms, and navigate the ascent/descent, then the risk of losing one's footing would increase significantly.

Fun little hike. Second time around I took the husband and our youngest 4 with us. They had a blast although they argue that the hike is longer than 2.1 miles but I think because they were tired and that was their first time.

No water in the falls two days after the rain. The dry ground sucked it all up. 

Cool little hike, went with the kids and dog. Everyone was friendly, went to the candy store after. Met the owner of the store, super nice lady! Overall had a great time!

1 month ago

Fun little hike

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