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Exploring San Diego: A guide to the best hiking and adventure spots for newbies

by Ceighlee Fennel, Staff Writer

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Hiking doesn’t have to be difficult in San Diego. At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be many spots, but after closer inspection, there are a ton of places to go. Here are some adventure options for people who are newer to San Diego:

Mount Laguna Observatory

My personal favorite spot for new people to explore is the Mount Laguna Observatory. San Diego State astronomy classes will take visits here to make use of the astronomical observatory and the multiple telescopes on top of this mountain. Right across the two-lane road is a campground. All around this area people can hike under pine trees and through some mountain terrain.

The observatory, which is owned and operated by San Diego State, is located in the Cleveland National Forest which makes for the perfect change of scenery from the city of San Diego. The stars, sky and sunset are incredible up above all the lights as well.

None of the hiking in this area is too difficult, but bring water and make sure the altitude doesn’t bother anyone. To get to the top of this mountain from campus, it is nearly a one hour drive. Most of the driving is smooth sailing, but be cautious driving up the narrower windy roads closer to the mountain.

The weather in this higher mountain altitude is much colder, so be prepared if you are camping overnight.

Adobe Falls

Adobe Falls is a cool attraction to check out and is close to campus, but don’t go unless you are prepared. Since so many people go there and trespass, the city has stepped its game up. There are stronger fences than in the past, and they are covered in a bizarre red slimy substance. For the brave people that can still climb over the gate, there is an industrial beehive waiting on the other side. The swarm of bees can be avoided by running quickly down the slope. However, there are plenty of other spots that aren’t illegal, are more enjoyable and are definitely less of a hassle.

Cowles Mountain

One of the more popular San Diego hikes is called Cowles Mountain. This hike is pretty busy, especially on the weekends. Dogs are also welcome.

It can be a pretty steep upgrade for some, but it is doable for most people. The trail is really well kept and easy to follow all the way to the top. The sight is worth it once you are at the top. It is really interesting to be able to be above everything and look out to see Mexico and San Diego. The weather can be quite hot and sunny in the summer, so I recommend bringing sunscreen.

However, an even better hike is the peak right past Cowles. If someone is looking for a more experienced hike, then this is certainly the right one. The terrain isn’t anything too crazy, but you have to go up Cowles first to start on the trail to get to the second peak.

This peak is called Pyles Peak. I like this one so much better because it is nowhere near as busy. The hike is hard because of how long it is, but definitely worth it if someone wants a challenge.

Potato Chip Rock

Another hike that is a bit of a challenge is Potato Chip Rock. This is at the top of Mount Woodson Summit which is right next to Poway Lake. The reason this hike can be hard is because it is an eight mile trek round trip with a steep incline near the end of the trail. There is not much tree cover on this hike either — San Diego isn’t exactly know for its huge pine trees — bring sunscreen so you don’t burn.

Once you get to the top, you can see and climb on the main potato shaped rock attraction. However, if you want to get the famous picture people take and post, then you will have to wait in line. Be careful on the chip though because you don’t want to fall or have it break. Potato Chip Rock is a fun San Diego experience that I definitely would recommend trying.

Spruce Street Suspension Bridge

The last fun spot to check out is the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge. The unique location of the bridge is tucked away in the residential neighborhood of Bankers Hill. This makes it more interesting and fun to visit.

The bridge itself is roughly 375 feet long, but the best part about the bridge, though, is the swing. I knew suspension bridges swung, that’s the whole point, but I didn’t expect such a long sturdy bridge to swing as much as it does. It is super fun to go with some friends and try to rock the bridge as much as you can. However, if you are afraid of heights, this might not be the best place, as the bridge goes across a canyon.

Parking around the bridge is usually not hard to find  because it is almost never busy in the residential streets.

Hopefully some of these hikes and adventure spots can get you out and moving on the weekends. Have some fun exploring San Diego!

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1 Comment

One Response to “Exploring San Diego: A guide to the best hiking and adventure spots for newbies”

  1. sarah on February 28th, 2018 11:15 am

    Why on earth are you encouraging people to trespass?

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