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    9 Can't-Miss Hiking Trails Near Camp Pendleton, California

    By now, you know San Diego, California, and specifically, a duty station at Camp Pendleton has legions of fans thanks to everything from the local cuisine and phenomenal weather to plentiful free things to do with your family. 

    And, there’s no doubt you’ve heard about the array of outdoor activities to try, especially along San Diego’s spectacular beaches. Now, it's time to spotlight hiking trails around the city. Don’t worry; there’s a trail for everyone, including casual Sunday strollers and strenuous elevation climbs for the more advanced hiker. 

    Take a look at these hiking options waiting for you in the San Diego area.

    hiking trails near Camp PendletonPhoto by Jon Doerr Jr via Unsplash


    1) Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

    San Diego, CA

    Although still a part of bustling San Diego, the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve feels miles and miles away. Day hikers come to take in the vistas of California’s southern coast, including views of its namesake, the Torrey Pine. You’ll also see breathtaking beaches, a lagoon, and local birdlife. Bring a picnic and enjoy the same views as the area’s first residents, the Kumeyaay people. Torrey Pines is one of California’s most toured reserves, so you won’t be alone on your hike.

    Torrey PinesPhoto via  U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

    2) Mother Miguel Mountain Rockhouse Trail

    San Diego, CA

    Take San Diego Realtor Michael Harris’, Realty Executives Dillon, advice and check out Rockhouse Trail. Here’s what he has to say,

    “Rock Housetrail is an amazing mile hiking experience for first-time hikers. It can be a little challenging due to some of the steep areas with a lot of small and loose rocks. Reaching the summit can be achieved... and the view at the top (OMG!!!) will take your breath away!! It's worth every breathless step on the way up. At a slow pace, it can be completed within two hours. I recommend bringing plenty of water, good shoes, and just enjoy the hike. See you at the Top!"

    Potato Chip RockPhoto by mimi lalaa via Unsplash

    3) Potato Chip Rock

    Poway, CA

    Among the City of Poway’s 78 miles of trail systems sits a famous Potato Chip that hikers from miles around come to see. Hike up to Mt. Woodson, and you’ll join the masses who have taken a picture with the one and only Potato Chip Rock. Poway reminds hikers it gets plenty hot in this part of Southern California. So mind the weather and monitor your water intake during the hike.

    Are you hungry just reading about potato chips and hiking? We’ve got you covered with 10 Fan-Favorite Restaurants and Cafes Near Camp Pendleton

    hiking trails near Camp PendletonPhoto via San Diego County Parks and Recreation

    4) Guajome Park

    Oceanside, CA

    For a hike that takes in a little bit of everything coastal California has to offer, head to Guajome Park. Nearly five miles of trails travel through woodlands, chaparral, wetlands, and mixed grasslands. Plus, the Pacific Ocean is just eight miles away. If you like to end your hike at a campsite, you’re in luck as camping is available every day, and there are two new day-use areas outfitted with new playgrounds, a basketball court, and plenty of green space for epic picnicking. 

    5) San Luis Rey River Trail

    Oceanside, CA

    If you don’t mind sharing your hiking trail with bicyclists, the paved San Luis River Trail is ideal for taking in the area’s natural habitat, especially the wild birds. The course is flat and easy to navigate for levels of walkers and hikers. The trail is about 11 miles one way, and you can start at the west end at the Neptune access and travel to the east, ending at North Santa Fe Avenue. If you’d like a little history to go with your hiking trail, note that the military used this trail to move cargo along the river decades ago. 

    Are you wondering what a PCS to Camp Pendleton is like? We have the information you need. Read Your PCS Move to Camp Pendleton, California


    Photo via The Wildlands Conservancy

    6) Santa Margarita River Trail

    Fallbrook, CA

    The Fallbrook Trails Council and The Wildlands Conservancy recently partnered to care for San Diego County’s number one ranked trail. It’s beloved by locals and hikers from afar. There are 18 miles of hiking and equestrian trails to explore near the oak and sycamore shaded Santa Margarita River. And, if you’ve ever doubted the influence the great California golden beaver has on its environment, you can check out their handiwork along the river impoundments. 

    Moving to Camp Pendleton can be overwhelming because the area is so large. However, our base guide, Camp Pendleton Relocation Information, will help you narrow down where to live and give you an idea of what to expect when you arrive. 



    If you’ve decided to rent a home, take a look at this property, just miles seven miles from Camp Pendleton. 

    home for rent near Camp Pendleton

    Note: while this home is no longer available, see other homes near Camp Pendleton. 

    Military renters know rental houses come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and conditions. So when a rental home comes along and has tons of upgrades, it’s like you’ve won the lottery. Check out this home in Vista, California, fast. With so many amenities, the house won’t stay available for long. 

    Location and proximity to Camp Pendleton are significant considerations thanks to the area’s busy traffic flow. However, with just seven miles to drive to work, you’ll have extra time to enjoy your new house at a convenient location in a gated community.  

    If you love open concept living, an updated kitchen, and spacious bathrooms, this property checks those boxes and more. Check out this partial list of amenities:

    • Gas fireplace
    • Built-in shelving
    • Stainless kitchen appliances
    • Primary bathroom with dual sinks and walk-in closet
    • Hot tub
    • Gas fire pit and grill
    • Pet friendly

    View more homes for sale or rent near Camp Pendleton: 

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    7) Buena Vista Park

    Vista, CA

    Don’t have a lot of time, but want to fulfill your Vitamin D intake for the day? Head to Buena Vista Park Loop and bring your sunscreen, as there isn’t shade. The loop is a 1.3-mile lightly trafficked trail that leashed dogs are welcome to travel. You'll enjoy glimpses of wildlife and the change of scenery from a steep but manageable hill.  

    8) Jack's Pond Park

    San Marcos, CA

    Families love all 23 acres of Jack’s Pond Park for manageable walks to see local wildlife like turtles and ducks, but they also stay to picnic at the playground. After a fun playground romp and lunch, you can head to Jack's Pond Nature Center to participate in their education programming or one of the guided hikes. 

    Here’s more California fun: 16 Best Things to Do Near Naval Base San Diego.

    California State ParksPhoto via California State Parks Foundation

    9) San Onofre Bluffs and Beach

    San Clemente, CA

    Beach walking and hiking go hand in hand at the San Onofre Bluffs. You’ll have a choice between an easy hike and those that require a little more effort. Trails here gain elevation ranging from 216 to 472 feet. If you’re looking for more solitude, try a mid-week hike. San Onofre State Beach is one of California’s top five most-visited state parks. 

    Now you know how to start your hiking adventures around San Diego; you’ll find a favorite in no time. Careful, don’t let time tick away because there are so many things to do. After your PCS to Camp Pendleton, get out there and explore the outdoors—you’ll run out of time before you know it. 

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    9 Cant-Miss Hiking Trails Near Camp Pendleton

    Dawn M. Smith


    Dawn M. Smith

    Dawn is a real estate and military life writer who has a serious HGTV habit. When she is not writing, her teen daughter, Army husband, and golden retriever keep her busy through chauffeur duties, travel planning, and long dog walks. Dawn is pleased to share her experiences with MilitaryByOwner readers who are hoping to simplify military family journeys of all kinds. Follow Dawn on Pinterest for more ideas and resources and visit her site at Dawn M. Smith Custom Content Creation.

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