Explore the most popular walking trails near Santee with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

This was a beautiful walk around a set of 7 lakes. Note you cannot walk around lake 1 though. Be prepared to pay $3-$6 for entrance via car. We did see a gate that leads out to the neighborhood, so you could park for free on the street and walk in. Lots of picnic areas. General store and food stand with hot dogs and burgers. Paddle boats and bike surreys for rent.

This was super fun to do for a hike after work! It was pretty steep with stairs and such but the view was pretty nice!

10 days ago

Basically a climb up to a lookout and back down. There was one spot where you have a nice look into the gorge, but other than that this is not spectacular.

Great hike but very hot at 9am. Felt sorry for the kids and dogs. Great workout!

Quite a bit more difficult than Cowles mountain, just because it’s a steep incline the entire way. Yes it may be shorter but doesn’t feel like it haha. Still enjoyed our hike and our dog cane with us and did well.

on Kwaay Paay Peak Trail

24 days ago

For a person that doesn't hike that often, this was a bit of a challenge. The first part of the trail was decent but as you go farther it gets steeper. It took me about 2.5 hrs to complete up and down, which I was not expecting. So I ran out of sunlight and fell on the way down. Be careful especially if you are hiking in the evening/night. The sunset from the top was very beautiful though.

A favorite on Cowles Mtn. Great terrain and views

28 days ago

Great hike in the rain! The majority is all incline but the view at the top is worth it. Hiking sticks recommended for this trail.

decent trail, well kept

Very treacherous and rocky. Cowels wasn’t to bad but we wanted to complete the 5 Peak Challenge so we hit Pyles Peak next. Round trip when done 9.3 miles, 89 floors and 26,000+ steps. My hardest hike by far.

1 month ago

Great hike! Gate opens at 8am. The trail paths are wide making it easy to hike with a large group. The trail loops and towards the end of the hike, it is all incline so be prepared. Also, there is hardly any shade so wear a hat and use lots of sunscreen.

Good trail, went up without climbing shoes and that was my mistake. It says highly elevated at the end, which is true but basically the entire trail is uphill. Definitely not a beginners trail if you are just trying to get it done. Rocks here can be hard to get a grip with your shoes.

People keep saying it's a quick hike, but it didn't feel like that to me lol maybe because it's all a crazy incline. But an amazing hike- challenging, beautiful and a great hike with your pet dog. The last 0.8 of the hike is a really good challenge hiking up to the peak. If you take the east trail it's A LOT easier!

Quick hike with amazing view at the peak. Be sure to check out the dam after, its beautiful. Last bit of the hike is the toughest.

Quick but steep trail with amazing views at the peak. Worth the climb!

It's a great hike with amazing views.

1 month ago

I frequent this trail often. So much cleaner and quieter than the front side of the mountain. And TONS of parking. The trail is well maintained and marked well. A nice hike when you don't have time to go far from home. This time of year it is very green and lots of flowers in bloom. Unfortunately there was a fire there recently and we lost a big chunk of the vegetation. So please be respectful and stay out of this area while the plants are regenerating.

Great for trail running. A lot of different options here also. Look for "Cardiac Hill." There is 0 shade anywhere so make sure to bring water and wear sunscreen. I'll definitely be going back. I linked up with the trail that overlooks the 67, the ridgeline trail I think? I saw deer in the middle of the day. Very rare in SD.

Fun trail..... a little short but wicked steep at the top!

Short hike but a really good climb! This was a really fun hike!

Great hike. There is a ranger station to use the restroom and refill water close to the end.

I did this hike with my mom who hasn't hiked in a while. I've been hiking small feats here and there and wanted to try another trail in San Diego. We loved how it wasn't crowded and that it provided a nice scenery and vegetation for such a short hike. I would rank this easy rather than moderate.

This hike is short but challenging!! It is an incline pretty much all the way up! I was there by 630am and there were already people on the trail. It is very rewarding once you reach the top. I ended up jogging back down and made the entire trip in 45 minutes. I parked in the parking lot near the campground entrance and walked 2 minutes to get to the trailhead.

2 months ago

It’s short and sweet. Definitely some quick verticals but basically walking up stairs. I’ve done it in tennis shoes on a rainy day and never had issues. Even saw a girl in sandals carrying a school bag. Hardly any crowds too. Nice quick hike

2 months ago

Nice short hike with a steep grade finish, including stairs. Great view of Santee at daybreak. Not terribly challenging, although the footing can become loose in some sections.

I've climbed Cowles twice, this time taking the less trafficked route, and I enjoyed it a lot more. It is very steep towards the summit and there is a lot of loose gravel. Make sure you wear HIKING shoes or boots. I made the mistake of wearing running shoes, and I slipped and fell and scraped my knee. Overall a nice hike, great for beginners like me.

Great workout hike - Easy to find trailhead - trail in good condition even after rain - started right before sunrise and rock ridge trail was empty .... at least going up

2 months ago

Great trail that you can take to the top of Cowles - not as crowded as the main way up. Steep incline!

2 months ago

This trail is the perfect quick hike. It is nice to get away from the crowds at Cowles. From the start, go left for an easier start. It is no where near as steep as going straight up the front.

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