Debra Alison | San Diego Photographer
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the blog

Capturing love, life, adventures + babes

San Diego hikes that will inspire your next adventure session!

Everyone loves San Diego, California for the amazing beaches and amazing weather. It is ALWAYS a good beach day, even in the dead of winter you can find some sunshine! While I love the sandy shores, San Diego has so much more to offer. Now that I'm offering adventurous portrait AND couples sessions, here's a list of my favorite San Diego hikes to bring out the wanderlust in you! (Find out more about Adventure Sessions here)


I love shooting at the beach, but there's more to life than the beach! Adventure Sessions are my new top choices for couples and even solo portraits.

Couples Adventure Session Hammock

Most people don't realize that San Diego is a central hub for endless adventure. Just about half an hour away is Cleveland National Forest, Mount Laguna, Rancho Cuyamaca State Park, and a bit further Julian. The Pacific Crest Trail starts right in our backyard! Hikers and backpackers travel all over the world to begin their journeys here.

Here's are some of my favorite spots to kick back on the trail!


Cedar Creek Falls

There's very little shade during the hike, but at the base there's plenty! It's a very easy hike down to the falls, but remember you have to hike back UP. It can be a little challenging hiking back because you've exhausted all your energy playing in the water. Be prepared + leave earlier than you think. Being wet + cold after dark is not fun at all.

Cedar Creek Falls Devil's Punch Bowl

Three Sisters Fall

This is one of the roughest local hikes I've done. You'll need a ton of water and to put on a brave face for this one. I DO NOT recommend bringing pets because many have died from dehydration or accidents. There are parts where you're practically rappelling down the rock face. BE PREPARED and doubly prepared.

Three Sisters Fall

Stone Wall Peak

The trailhead to Stone Wall is located right across from Paso Picacho campgrounds. There is a clear trail, it's not too difficult and the view is amazing! It's even better when you catch the first snowfall. ALL. THE. HEART. EYES.

stone wall peak cuyamaca snow

Sunset Trailhead

Sunset trail is a really awesome hike, it forks several times and you can make a loop almost anywhere! It's woodsy and different from your typical CA locations (ahem, desert.) It can be as long or as short as you'd like. I love looping around to Big Laguna when there's water to see the lake or to see cows grazing. So much cuteness. 

Sunset Trailhead to Big Laguna Loop

Penny Pines

Penny Pines is just a little further than Sunset Trail and they're very similar. They both give lots of options and loop around Big Laguna. I like to mix up the views every once in a while. If you're up for it, you can even do both Penny Pines + Sunset since they cross paths at one point. 

Penny Pines Trail

Green Valley Falls

A quick and easy hike with a great view! It costs money to get into the campgrounds to park (I think $3) but it's definitely worth a trip to play in the water. This is a campsite, so it can be pretty crowded during peak seasons. I recommend pitching your tent here and exploring this area, the sites are pretty large so the whole family is welcome!

Green Valley Falls

Mission Trails Regional Park

There is so much to explore, it's a HUGE park with a ton of options for hiking and exploring. Some popular hikes and destinations in Mission Trails are Cowles Mountain, Kwaay Paay Peak, Fortuna and Old Mission Dam. There is a little something for everywhere here, camping, hiking, trail running and climbing even! (Except backpacking, sorry friends. 😞)

Mission Trails Regional Park Yoga Meditation

What are some of your favorite hiking locations around San Diego? Share with me in the comments below!!