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 these trails are not commonly known certainly to the weekend warrior hiker, casual hiker, and in some cases even the hiker who considers themselves a frequent hiker.  It is because of that I am creating a list of Off The Menu San Diego County Hiking Trails…A list of the best kept secret hiking trails in San Diego County not commonly considered by the masses.

I am not listing these trails in any specific order, some are easy some are not, I will comment on each trail I list.


Off the Menu List:

Hell Hole Canyon, Valley Center, CA (Long, Difficult)

Hike Stonewall Peak, Julian, CA (Easy-Moderate)

Guatay Mountain: Pine Valley, CA (Strenuous)

Big Black Mountain, Ramona CA (Long and difficult)

Lawson and Gaskill Peaks: Hiking the East County  (Moderate)

Kwaay Paay Trail! Mission Trails Regional Park, Santee, CA (Moderate)

San Miguel Mountain, Chula Vista, CA: (Difficult and not a legal hike)

Bonus Off the Menu:

Devil’s Backbone, Mt. San Antonio (Mt. Baldy) Trail Los Angeles County (Long Difficult)

What to take to be safe when you hike these trails:  

Water: always bring more than you need, I know it adds weight but these trails can get tricky in heat if you don’t have enough.  In fact one or two of the trails listed Hikers young and old have died due to dehydration.  2 liters is safe, more in heat, I consider heat anything over 80 degrees. I hiked Big Back Mountain in Ramona a 14 mile roundtrip, it was 90 degrees plus, we took 3 liters each and ran out and had to turn around… Hike safe…

Snacks: I like Probars, Hardboiled eggs, Banana, and even a lunch to relax at the Summit with.  You need carbs and protein  some of these hikes can chew up 3000-4000 calories.  Probars are big on Carbs a great source, you can get these at Sprouts or REI.

First Aid;  Nobody plans for an accident, twisted ankle, cut or blister, even a snakebite  but it happens, therefore always take at the minimum:  Sunscreen, Ace bandage, Moleskin, Band-aids, Space blanket, Nail clippers, Aspirin, Stomach meds, hand wipes, antibacterial cream, cortisone cream in case of poison oak.

Clothing:  Wear light clothing in layers, bring a rain jacket if any chance of rain, nothing sucks more than wet hiking clothing.

Shoes:  More and more I see people hiking in low cut trail shoes or even running shoes.  I was amazed to see on the Mt Whitney trail people on much of the trail were in running shoes, then transferred over to hiking boots when the trail got a little more rocky and a lot more demanding.  Thats said whatever you re comfortable in works, just be weary of uneven rocky trails which I discuss on the trail review.

Misc:  Cell phone, you may lose service but its a must anyways, some sort of all purpose tool like a Swiss Army, or Leatherman, things break.  I recently hiked Mt.Whitney with my son, things were breaking left and right the weatherman saved us big time.

Hike Safe:  Just like any hike, but certainly these listed, its best if you hike with a partner, not only makes the journey richer, but in case of mishap you have support.