In San Diego, it’s a dog’s life when it comes to hiking. Daisy can let loose on the beach or enjoy a quick, natural escape at nearby preserves like Mission Trails Regional Park, where 60 miles of canine-friendly trails spread over 6,800 acres beckon. This is one of the oldest urban parks in the country, and staff at the visitor center will be happy to point you to interesting destinations such as Oak Canyon, the Father Junipero Serra Trail or Old Mission Dam, a national registered historic landmark.
A steep alternative popular with fitness buffs is the 3-mile out-and-back trail to the summit of Cowles Mountain, a prominent landmark offering sweeping views from its 1,591-foot crest.
Two other popular preserves within the city limits, Black Mountain Open Space and Los Penqasquitos Canyon Preserve offer still more options. You’ll have to heed the leash laws at all three, but don’t let that stop the two of you from exploring.
Not all San Diego hiking requires extreme exertion. If you’re a first-time or infrequent visitor, you can combine a hike (or at least a long urban stroll) with ogling some of San Diego’s marquee sights.
In Balboa Park, for example, you can stroll several miles of trails on the east and west sides of the 1,200-acre home of 15 museums and the San Diego Zoo, and Daisy can romp free in three (unfenced) off-leash areas.
Another great walking destination is Presidio Park, site of San Diego’s first mission, built in 1769, and known as the “Plymouth Rock of the West.” The park’s rolling hills offer panoramic views of the city, and there’s plenty of shade as well as history to soak up as you explore.
Of course no trip to San Diego would be complete without a visit to the beach, and San Diego has two premier waterfront playgrounds for dogs. On the north end of Ocean Beach, also known as Dog Beach, canines can hang out leash-less and tear around on the sand and in the surf, bringing joy to all who watch them.
On Fiesta Island in Mission Bay Park, dogs are welcome to romp on almost all of the 1.5 miles of waterfront. Views are best from the south side, while dirt fields mark the interior. Car traffic can be a hazard, so make sure your dog sticks close and has a good recall before cutting her off-leash.
Photo Credit: SDpitbull (CC)