Elevate Your Mind Body and Soul

About Hiker Therapy

As someone whom would be considered diagnosed with GAD (General Anxiety Disorder), along with a lifetime of ADHD, for the record I do not condone such diagnostic labels, I very much am a  proponent of natural holistic healthy ways such as hiking to self-soothe and manage anxiety.  


I’ve also experienced the benefit of having a professionally trained listening ear who can offer active listening skills and unconditional positive regard to gain an understanding of life issues and concerns,


By using this same philosophy for others I have created Hiker Therapy as a way of combining hiking, the calming influences of nature, and my professional training and education as a motivator, life coach, and counselor.  This can offer the client a healing environment where symptoms of anxiety and depression are managed, invalid and negative thinking replaced with valid and positive thoughts so that clarity can be achieved, and an awakened state of mind can be obtained.


Hiker Therapy is also very effective for those suffering from PTSD related trauma as well as addiction and recovery issues, such as cravings and triggers for AOD use/abuse/dependance. Click on this link to see how research shows that physical exercise, and being outdoors reduces symptoms of anxiety, depression, grief relief all related to PTSD and AOD issues and concerns.

The hikes I plan for us are done at a length and activity level comfortable to each individual. Hiking trails are conveniently located all around San Diego County. ……By changing the “office” we work in a new dynamic takes place which transforms the individual in a different way Elevating The Mind, Body and Soul.


Please take your time going through the information and material  posted here which is formatted so that you may get an idea of who I am and what Hiker Therapy can offer you.  My goal is to educate us all on the benefits of Hiking as a Holistic way for mental health healing and repair, addiction recovery and physical fitness well-being . 

Mark Lees, M.A., CADC-CAS

See Our List Of Hikes!

Hiker Therapy
Men’s and Women’s 
Royal Blue and Charcoal Gray Logo T-Shirt
100% Ultra Soft Cotton Very Light Weight Shirt for Hiking or Hanging Out In.  

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Please join our Hiker Therapy Meet-up Group (click on Meetup)  

Our Next Hike is on Saturday March, 3 8:30AM @ Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve San Diego, CA., we will be doing the 3 Stones hike… 


Hiker Therapy Recommended Family Hikes 

Nothing brings families together like spending time sharing an activity, and better than that, being together out in nature on the trail… The 5 trails listed here are diverse and offer a scenic view of our county….Each varies in difficulty, however all these trails have been done by families with children as young as 7. (click on the Hike below to get information about that trail)

Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve (easy), San Diego 

Lake Calavera Preserve Volcano (moderate), Oceanside

Iron Mountain (strenuous), Poway

Blue Sky Ecological Reserve (easy), Poway 

7 Bridges Urban Hike (easy-moderate), San Diego


Hiker Therapy gives me a chance to be in a safe place to share my feelings without judgement and feeling uncomfortable.  Mark is a great facilitator and guide


Search For Your Favorite Hiking Spot!

About Me

My name is Mark Lees and I was born in Detroit, Michigan and moved to San Diego in 1976. I now live in Oceanside, California. I have a son, Sam, age 27, who is a large part of the inspiration for Hiker Therapy and the one who thankfully got me interested in Hiking back in 2012. I have a Masters degree in psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from Chapman University, as well as a certification from the California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals as an Addiction Recovery Specialist.


I have incorporated Hiker Therapy into numerous counseling employment positions, including my current work with homeless veterans. It never ceases to amaze me the change of attitude and openess my clients experience when we get out of the “office” 4-wall environment and hit the sidewalk, trail, neighborhood we walk/hike in.


For fun and self-care I like to Hike, Gym, meditation and breathing exercises, Starbucks to both energize and relax, see as many MLB and Hockey games as I can, open to all music, and find fun places to eat and play at in San Diego County and beyond.

Just Some Of Our Recent Hikes!

Visit our Hikes page for a full list.

Blue Sky Ecological Reserve in Poway, CA 02/03/2018 Hiker Therapy

02/03/2018 DISTANCE:  5 MILES ROUND TRIP  STEPS:  12K  ELEVATION GAIN:  800 '  HIKEABILITY:  scale 0-10, (0 being Batiquitos Lagoon Carlsbad, 10 being Mt Woodson, Poway.) 3.5  WATER: took 2 liters used 1.25 SNACKS: energy bar, orange.  CONDITIONS: temperature 80's,...
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Pyles Peak via Cowles Mountain Service Road, Barker Way Trailhead: Hiker Therapy 01/14/2018

  Distance:  7.45 mi  Time:  03:56:13 mins  Steps: 15,151 Elevation Gain:  710ft  Water:  1.5 L  Snacks:  Orange, Pro bar, hard boiled egg For a hike that covers a lot of diverse trail, assorted vegetation, gorgeous views and beautiful scenery then the Pyles Peak...
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Cowles Mountain via Barker Way; Cowles Mountain Service Road Trail: 10/22/2017 Hiker Therapy

Hike Distance: 3 Miles  Steps:  7,600 Elevation: 1590' Elevation Gain: 950' Time: 1 Hour 43 Minutes Hikeability:   Strenuous   Water: 1.5 liters  Snacks: Probar and and Orange For an alternative route to summit the most popular hiking trail and the highest mountain...
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Lake Calavera Preserve and Volcano!: Sky Haven West Trailhead: Hiker Therapy 07/15/17

DISTANCE: 4.61 miles STEPS: 9877  Elevation GAIN: 690ft. TIME: 2:21 WATER: 2 L SNACKS:  Orange, Hard-Boiled egg TEMP:  80 Trailhead Start:  I entered the preserve at the Sky Haven West Trail head, which is actually in...
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Fireworks Hike! Double Peak Mountain, San Marcos , CA 07/04/2017 : Hiker Therapy

HIKER THERAPY FIREWORKS HIKE: See 6 different Tri-City and County wide Fireworks Shows  MEET: 7pm Discovery Lake Park Gazebo, Upper Parking Area 650 Foxhall Dr, San Marcos, CA 92078 GROUP INTRO:  7-7:15 pm  HIKE START TIME:  7:15 pm  SIGN-UP: On welcome page use...
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Beach Hike! Torrey Pines State Beach to Black’s Beach, 06/18/2017: Hiker Therapy

DISTANCE:  5.36 mi  STEPS: 11,495  TIME:  3:10min, 1 hour break WATER: 2L FOOD: lunch and snacks  TRAILHEAD DIRECTIONS (google map) Torrey Pines State Beach parking lot, $15.00 to park or park along coast, walk to Beach steps head south. RESTROOMS:  Yes this is a...
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Garnet Peak: via Pacific Crest Trail at Penny Pines; Pine Valley, CA Hiker Therapy 05/28/2017

Garnet Peak via The Pacific Crest Trail at Penny Pines Distance/Difficulty:  4.7 mi./easy/moderate  Time:  3:11 min including 45 minute break at peak.  Steps:  12,119  Temp:  80 degrees  Water:  1.5L consumed, brought 3L Snacks:  always bring something for...
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Hike The Hollywood Sign @ Hollywood Hills, CA 04/12/2017

Once in Hollywood, here's route to trail: To get to the trailhead, 3200 Canyon Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068: From Franklin Avenue, north of the 101 Freeway and Hollywood Boulevard, turn north on Canyon Drive (between Bronson Avenue and Van Ness Avenue) and drive 1.4...
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Iron Mountain: Poway, CA: 04/01/2017…….

  STEPS:  13,670 DISTANCE:  6.13 miles   TIME:  3 hours 15 minutes HIKEABILITY: Moderate strenuous  WATER/FOOD:  I always take 3 liters, I used 1.5 on this 74 degree day. I always take a hard-boiled egg and probar. DIRECTIONS: Poway Rd and HWY 67   map [video...
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Eagle Rock: Pacific Crest Trail Los Coyotes Indian Reservation: 03/04/2017

STEPS: 13, 073 DISTANCE:  6.54 miles  ELEVATION GAIN:  990  ′  HIKE TIME:  2:53 minutes including 30 minute stop at Eagle Rock  PARKING/RESTROOMS; No facilities, park on road across from fire station.  WATER:  1.5 liters used, brought 3L  SNACKS:  Sandwich, Pro...
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Hell Hole Canyon Trail to Maidenhair Falls, Anza Borrego State Park, 02/20/2017

STEPS: 12787 DISTANCE:  5.38 Miles ELEVATION GAIN: 780'  HIKE TIME:  2:57 minutes including 20 minute stop at falls     Directions to Hell Hole Canyon, Maidenhair Falls      Distance from downtown San Diego: 90 miles. Allow 2 hours (Anza-Borrego...
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Eagle Peak Hike: Julian CA 01/16/2017

Distance: 4.5 miles .Elevation Gain: 1200 feet. Time to complete: 2 – 3 hours roundtrip Hikeability:  Moderate Strenuous Water: minimum 2 L, more in heat  Temp on 01/17/17:  53 degrees  Snacks: Pro bar, hard boiled egg, sandwiches Directions to Eagle Peak Trailhead ...
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Off The Menu San Diego County Hiking Trails…A list of the best kept secret hiking trails in San Diego County

We are so fortunate living in San Diego County for limitless reasons, however, since we talk about hiking here, lets talk hiking. Ive hiked a lot of trails in this county and still haven't scratched the surface on the abundance of trails that are out there.  Many of...
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Big Black Mountain, Ramona CA

Location:  Ramona, CA, back country east on Highway 78 north east of the town of Ramona.  From downtown Ramona, head north on 7th street. Turn right onto Elm Street and continue for 1.4 miles. Turn right onto W Haverford Road then left onto Pamo Road. Follow Pamo Road...
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My Top Ten Hikes in San Diego County

Here are my Top Ten Hikes in San Diego County.  These hikes are not necessarily listed in any particular order based on favorites...Some are less difficult than others but all offer a different beauty, a different challenge and a different trail type to keep you...
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Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” John Muir


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