Los Penasquitos Canyon (from Lopez Canyon)

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Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve

Los Penasquitos Canyon (from Lopez Canyon) is a 18.2 kilometer heavily trafficked loop trail located near San Diego, California that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 18.2 km Elevation Gain: 161 m Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

hiking

horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

running

views

waterfall

muddy

NOTE: Trails sometimes close due to flooding or damage. For real-time updates call the Ranger Office at 858-538-8066.

hiking
no shade
6 days ago

Great trail, good for hiking, trail running and mountain biking. A lot of animal droppings, maybe just bad luck of owners that don’t pickup after their pets. Waterfall was crowded and noisy despite COVID recommendations of distancing. We had to watch from farther up top. Trail is definitely easy, but long and with not much shade so I agree you need to bring water and sun block. Enjoy the outdoors.

Great hike! Super sunny on the north side with the south having some shade, so bring a good amount of water, hat, sunscreen and should be good to go! Expect a good amount of traffic in both directions (about 50:50 split with masks)

I was too focused on the tick ting to see the waterfall sign

hiking
no shade
22 days ago

Great trail. If you want to do the full trail (north and south bank) it would be around 12 miles (4hrs30mins). There is not much shade so make sure you are covered in sun screen and have enough water with you. Parts of the trail is rocky which is a bit tiring. The rest is either regular trail or sandy trail. There is a beautiful waterfall along the way, so if you want to get your feet wet make sure you are prepared for that as well. There are a lot of bikers on the trail which I personally am not a big fan of specially when the trail gets narrowed. Overall a great trail, definitely suggested.

1 month ago

this trail is closed :(

mountain biking
3 months ago

13 Mile loop around both North and South Banks of Penasquitos Creek. Southside is nice with lots of shade. Northside has a few sketchy spots but a better view of the waterfall.

hiking
3 months ago

My favorite trail I’ve found in a long time! I’ve gone on it about 5 times now, there are many loops and different paths to take; which makes me want to keep coming back and go a different route each time... It’s also very beautiful and gets very serene and quiet the further you get from the roads. Lots of birds around too, the last time I went I watched a group of ‘ranting’ ravens... it was really cool!

Quiet/easy parking. Partial shade. Spotted a few rattlesnakes. Pretty but faint smell of sewage

hiking
muddy
no shade
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

Great running trail. South trail is very technical with varying conditions from sand and creek beds up to large boulders. North trail is nice and smooth with lots of rolling hills. Can def get nasty in spots after it rains.

hiking
muddy
no shade
4 months ago

Great hike for dogs but not a lot of shade. A few muddy spots but overall a great hike very peaceful and quiet.

hiking
bugs
over grown
rocky
scramble
4 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

My wife and I live next to one of the main paths down into the canyon (about 400ft. of elevation change down... and 400ft. within less than a 1/4 mile back up). The hike from the Western entrance to the Eastern entrance and back is fairly flat with no need to burn the thighs. We hike this at least 4 times a month and know it quite well. We have done a fair amount of hiking in San Diego, Cleveland National Forrest and the Sierras around Tahoe and I never get tired of this. Fairly flat to rolling terrain with many changes along the way... the loop trail goes along both sides of a stream running through the canyon with flowing water all year long. There are tall trees on both sides of the stream with the trail going under them in some parts...can be a welcome 20 degree relief in the Summer months!... in Spring when everything on the surrounding hills is green you’d swear you’re in Ireland! The waterfall is the “money spot” and gets crowded on the weekends... trivia... when Mick Jagger stayed the the Grand Del Mar, he was spotted at the waterfall!!...lots of mountain bikers on weekends...we go on weekdays when almost no one is there and we feel like we own the place!!...It’s a very cool spot and we’re thankful we can hike there from our apt. We typically cross the creek at Carson Crossing which is quite beautiful in the morning and make a 9 mile hike out of it... the bridge across the creek is sometimes out there so I wear my tall waterproof Herman Survivors and walk right across in one the low spots. The total trail is 80% open to the sun so bring lots of water and sunscreen in the summer. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich break at the waterfall is the BEST!!

hiking
4 months ago

Great trail with beautiful scenery. At the end your rewarded with an amazing waterfall. We got a late start so the sun was low on the falls and stream. Very beautiful!

Excellent trail, there’s all sort of terrain, from hills to down hill, shaded area, gravel and single track sections. I would recommend it to anyone.

Don’t ride the bottom section in wet conditions. Otherwise a vary fun trail filled with berms.

$3 parking fee. Nice flat hike. Lots of mountain bikers on the trail but it is wide with plenty of room to pass.

hiking
no shade
7 months ago

Nice steep up hill after going under the bridge and when coming back

hiking
no shade
Sat May 18 2019

hiking
Fri May 17 2019

Nice & fun hike!

hiking
Sun Apr 28 2019

It’s really nice to hike after it rains. I did this hike twice. Once during dry season and one time after it rained all week. When it was dry season it was not that fun of a hike. The waterfall was so small and everything seemed dead. After it rained the hike was much better. The waterfall looked amazing and there were flowers all along the way. This is the kind of hike you should only go at a specific time.

mountain biking
Fri Apr 12 2019

This was my first non flat mountain bike ride on dirt terrain. I really enjoyed it, we only went about two miles in this time. The trail is pretty wide in good condition. I will be back to conquer the full loop in the near future. As a beginner, this place felt like a great start.

running
Thu Apr 11 2019

Great for trail running. Beautiful rolling landscape.

running
bugs
Mon Apr 08 2019

I just moved to San Diego, and this is the second run I've gone on. I missed my trail running from Colorado, and certain parts reminded me of those old routes! I started from the parking lot at Sorento Valley and ran up around the waterfall and back--not the longest run, but there were some good hills along the way and it was gorgeous. It's spring (beginning of April) and everything is still really green and beautiful, there are all sorts of flowers and the waterfall is going. Definitely recommend, it's a wonderful run after work! Do be warned though--there are a lot of gnats. I ended up weeping for about 5 mins because one got in my eye, and I ate at least 7 more while I was running. Protein I guess???

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