The perfect hiking spot for you and your dog awaits you in Rancho Peñasquitos! Rancho Peñasquitos is known as the hidden gem of a city in San Diego, so it’s no surprise that the community is filled with exciting things to do. The canyon preserve is no exception! It’s a wonderful set of trails perfect for all different skill levels. Depending on the time of year you go, you’ll find the trail moderately trafficked with people and their leashed dogs. So yes, bring your furry companion along on this dog friendly hike! This is a favorite hike of the JenLovesPets team and a beloved one among our fur clients too!
The entire Los Peñasquitos Canyon preserve stretches along 7 miles of land, but don’t let this number intimidate you! There are a few ways to enter the preserve and different loops you can take. If you decide to venture in from the main entrance, you’ll find yourself on a 5 mile round about journey. There is so much beauty and nature to experience as you make your way along the dirt and rock paths. The flat terrains of these trails are highly appealing to those San Diego hikers with dogs. If you have a Brachycephalic breed (pugs, bulldogs, etc.) or senior dog then this would be greatly fitting as it doesn’t have tiring, steep hills. However, it still can be made challenging for those dogs who need plenty energy burning activities! They may want to walk or jog throughout the total distance of the preserve while other dogs may want to take the shorter trails that emerge from the main path.
There are numerous ways to conquer the preserve. My personal favorite way to enjoy the trail is through an entry way located just West of the main entrance. The directions to get there are very easy and straightforward. When you travel down Black Mountain Road, you will take a right onto a street named Canyonside Park Driveway. Make your way past the baseball fields until reaching “The Ranch House” sign, which sits next to an open parking lot, just feet away from the side trail entrance. My boyfriend and I parked here as there were many open spots available, and not to mention- it’s free of charge!! We approached the entry way sign that had a lot of useful information posted about the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve. The bulletin board is especially helpful for hikers with their dogs. You’ll find a large warning sign reminding dog owners that “When temperatures rise- Keep dogs off trails!”. In the summer San Diego can get especially warm, making it important to always keep tabs on the weather. If you’re expecting high temperatures it’s advised to avoid outside activities. Always monitor your dog along the hike- the temperatures do not need to be blazing hot to cause heat exhaustion!! Another largely printed, important sign posted at the entry states that “Dogs should be leashed at all times”. These are great reminders and once you make your way into the preserve, you notice that humans and dogs are respecting and following the rules.
As we trekked our way through the natural beauty of the preserve, we came across many tranquil areas. We chose to stay on the main trail which led us to a wooden bridge that shadowed over a peaceful running creek of water. The bridge wasn’t large by any means, but it added a beautiful, unique touch to the trail. I think many fellow hikers enjoyed this fun aspect of the trail! After about 10 minutes of walking under the large shady trees, we reached the larger main trail consisting of more traffic flow. The path is shared with other walkers, runners, bikers, and horses- yes horses! We spotted a majestic horse making his way past us. We came to a quick realization that horses present means there is horse manure along the trail as well, so make sure to keep an eye on what’s in front of you! Otherwise, the trails are maintained and look nice. It was great to see that dog owners were picking up after their dogs and no poop bags were left on the trail. We didn’t come across any rattlesnakes but there are quite a few signs that warn you how rattlesnakes can be present. The possibility of rattlesnakes in San Diego being out is higher in the summer months and decreases when the weather starts to get cold. You may notice other sorts of wildlife as you make your way through the preserve. Different types of birds, insects, and rodents share the paths with us too!
You and your dog will love the scenery of the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, whichever way you decide to try it out! One of the best parts of the trail can be reached about 3 miles from the entrance. You’ll start to hear the sound of running water as you approach the serene sight of the Peñasquitos waterfall! The waterfall attracts many fellow San Diegans who enjoy sitting or picnicking around the falling water. Even when this area gets populated there are lots of rocks to plop down on as you take it all in. This hike is a fun time and totally worth checking out. With plenty to take in, it makes you almost forget that you’re not deep into the wilderness, but still in Rancho Peñasquitos!