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Best trails in Lakeside

3,280 Reviews
Looking for a great trail near Lakeside, California? AllTrails has 13 great hiking trails, trail running 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. If you're looking for the best trails around Cuyamaca Rancho State Park or Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, we've got you covered. You'll also find some great local park options, like Lake Poway Park or El Capitan County Preserve. Just looking to take a quick stroll? We've got 5 easy trails in Lakeside ranging from 1.2 to 4.8 miles and from 403 to 1,998 feet above sea level. Start checking them out and you'll be out on the trail in no time!
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Map of trails in Lakeside
Top trails (13)
#1 - El Cajon Mountain Trail
El Capitan County Preserve
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(1276)
Length: 11.3 mi • Est. 6 h 58 m
Note: El Capitan is CLOSED in August due to extreme summer heat. 1. You'll start out at the Parking lot which is .5 miles from the pit toilets and trail head. Elevation gain is 246 feet to get your legs limbered up. 2. From there you have the option to follow the road or to take the trail. If you take the road to the trail junction it's .4 mile with an elevation gain of 268 feet. 3. If you take the trail to the junction with the road it's .5 mile with an elevation gain of 257 feet. Plenty of switch-backs with some nice views. Take the trail. 4. From trail road junction, over the next 1.4 miles, the trail/road ascends and descends with a couple of steep spots. Enjoy the views and relative ease of the hiking, this is probably the easiest part of the trail. 5. At 2.2 miles from the parking area, the trail will start a steep descent into a drainage for the surrounding peaks and will take a sharp southeasterly turn. Because the water that falls on the surrounding hills is focused into this drainage the vegetation becomes much more lush with trees and other vegetation not seen on other parts of the trail. 6. Around 2.8 miles from the parking lot, the road will begin a very steep ascent as it swings back to the east and then northeast. This is the first of the worst part of this hike. The trail gets more rugged and rutted at this point and if you aren't wearing hiking shoes or boots you may begin to wish you were. 7. As you continue to ascend you will notice another trail/road that veers off to the left. Going back to paragraph 5, if you look left and up-slope you can see this trail slashing across the mountain. You can continue on the trail ahead or take this alternate route. If you go left it is slightly shorter but considerably steeper. I've gone both ways, and staying to the right is probably the better way. As you ascend, the views become more and more spectacular. On a good day you can see all the way to the ocean. 8. As you continue you will come to a stop sign with a notice that tells you it will take 1.5 hours to return to the parking lot from this point and that if it's past 12:30 pm you should not attempt to reach the El Cajon mountain summit. In winter, they close and lock the gates to the parking lot at 4:30 pm, so if you are parked in the lot, plan accordingly. The point here is know your limitations! 9. From the stop sign, over the next .6 mile, you will climb 467 feet to a saddle between a large peak on your left and a smaller one on your right. From there you will drop 290 feet over the next half mile or so, until you start the climb to the next saddle. This section of the trail is steep, rutted and in some places partly washed out and it doesn't improve much the rest of the way. You may find yourself wondering if you've gone astray, because the trail seems to be going north away from where you want to be. But stay steady, the trail is taking you around, rather than over the peak to your right at the saddle. 10. As you continue, you will find yourself climbing again to another saddle where you will come to a three way junction. Over that .8 mile stretch, you will gain 642 feet, so if you thought the other side of the mountain was tough, this is tougher. But congratulations, you're almost there. Stop and check out the old jeep hulk as you go. 11. The saddle is a good place to take a break, load some calories and steel your nerves for the final push. When you are ready, you'll take the trail to your left (due east). At this point, you will begin bushwhacking, there are only a couple of trail markers to be seen, but if you pay attention, the trail isn't that hard to follow. Over the next .6 miles to the summit, you'll gain another 424 feet. Once at the summit you'll find that the view and sense of accomplishment make the hike worthwhile. Don't try this hike unless you are in relatively good shape. As many people have already said, bring plenty of water, food and good footwear.Show more
#2 - El Capitan
El Capitan County Preserve
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(658)
Length: 10.4 mi • Est. 6 h 15 m
Note: El Capitan is CLOSED in August due to extreme summer heat. Trail is open now as of October 2020Show more
#3 - Oak Oasis Open Space Preserve
Oak Oasis County Park
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(435)
Length: 2.6 mi • Est. 1 h 15 m
#4 - Stelzer Park Loop Trail
Louis Stelzer County Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(147)
Length: 2.6 mi • Est. 1 h 28 m
Stelzer Park includes 310 acres of oak woodland and coastal sage scrub. Birdwatching, hiking and picnicking are all available here, as are playgrounds, a horseshoe pit and barbequesShow more
#5 - Helix Flume Trail
El Monte County Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(133)
Length: 3.6 mi • Est. 2 h 19 m
#6 - El Cajon Mountain South Ridge
Cleveland National Forest
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(87)
Length: 6 mi • Est. 4 h 33 m
Compared to the alternative approach from the West, this is a more direct route to the top of El Cajon Mountain.Show more
#7 - Lindo Lake Loop
Lindo Lake County Park
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(110)
Length: 1.2 mi • Est. 30 m
Lindo Lake County Park has family and group picnic areas, dance ramada, play areas, softball field, horseshoe pits, fishing, and tennis courts. The park is also home to the local county library. Lindo Lake is also known for its excellent birdwatching opportunities. A new fitness walk on the westernmost peninsula on the south shore of the lake features 17 physical fitness stations that present a scenic, no-cost workout for park visitors.Show more
#8 - Lake Jennings Trail
Lake Jennings Park
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray Star(77)
Length: 4.8 mi • Est. 2 h 8 m
They closed down the parking lot years ago so park outside the main gate entrance. You can make a loop on Friday thru Sunday. The rest of the week the main gate is locked and it's still a nice out and back.Show more
#9 - Martha Grove Trail Loop
Goodan Ranch / Sycamore Canyon County Preserve
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(74)
Length: 3.5 mi • Est. 1 h 41 m
#10 - Lakeside Linkage Preserve Trail
Lakeside, California
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray Star(115)
Length: 2.8 mi • Est. 1 h 25 m
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