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Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve – Sorrento Hills California

Sorrento Hills – San Diego, California


Scenery, miles of trails


14 miles in total length. Lots of side trails too.

Parking Lot Elevation

Depends which parking lot

Summit Elevation

No summit

Elevation Gain/Loss


Time Required

1+ hours. Depends on what you do.


Pets allowed on leash


No fees associated with this trek

Water Info

Bring 1-2 liters. There is a creek that runs between the entire length of the canyon

Best Season



Open year round

Sun Exposure

Shade is minimal with longest shade sections stretching more than a few hundred yards

Trail Condition

Main trail is gravel and dirt mix. Easy to see and follow.


Several locations

Visitor Center

No, but there are ranger stations


Not allowed


Bring meal and snacks, depending on what you do


Backpack for food and water, hat, sunglasses

GPS Coordinates

Trailhead (East): 32° 56.316’N, 117° 7.744’W
Trailhead (West): 32° 54.387’N, 117° 12.388’W

Trail Map

Driving Directions:

The Trail:

One of the parking areas

One of the parking areas

There are several different ways of getting to the trailheads.  Also there are sidetrails which meet up with the trailheads that come down from the surrounding hills.

Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve

The main access road is a gravel and dirt path, wide enough for a car to drive on.  You will travel up and around small inclines and declines as you make your way around the area.

Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve

Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve

The area has many wonderful sights to see such as the vegetation, animal life and the creek.  Even in early spring this area can get very hot so please bring a hat and sunglasses.

Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve

Grassy trails are abundant here

Grassy trails are abundant here

The trail is easy going for the most part and you will have no problem getting around from one end to the other. If you are wanting to cross to the other side of the creek there are multiple bridges that allow you to do so. Ranch House Crossing, Penasquitos Creek Park Crossing, Carson’s Crossing, Sycamore Crossing, and Wagon Wheel Crossing are well marked and established crossing areas that allow for easy passage to the other side.

Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve

The trail is marked well and you will see mileage postings and information signs along the way explaining the habitat and area.

Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve

Please be aware that there are signs saying that mountain lions and rattlesnakes and poison oak are in the area so please be watchful and stay on paths only.

Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve

The Return:

Whichever parking lot you started head back in that same direction.

Personal Thoughts:

This area is great for biking, hiking or jogging.  Although this area is more of just a long path that leads from one end of the canyon to the other it is still a great area to wander around and explore.

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From the western parking lot next to the Sorrento Valley Blvd the trek to the waterfall is about 2.75 miles.  The path is very easy to follow and once you have traveled the 2.75 miles you will see a sign that says “waterfall” that points you in the northern direction for about a hundred yards.

You will follow a rock stepped path to the base of the creek and be lead around to the waterfall.  The waterfall itself is about a 10 foot drop but the area is very unique with all sorts of large boulders spread out in the area.

This Side Trek takes an additional 10-25 min.

Waterfall: 32°55’36.90″N, 117°10’38.06″W

Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve

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The Bottom Line

Difficulty is basically the length, duration and stress of the Trek.  If the Trek is really long then it will receive a higher rating. If the Trek is short then it won't receive that high of a rating. However, difficulty rating also includes how tired we were at the end of the Trek.

Technicality is how strenuous the Trek is. If there is lots of bouldering or if there is bushwhacking involved then the rating will be higher. Technicality also includes if there are steep inclines or the need for ropes and other equipment.

Enjoyment is strictly how much fun we had doing the Trek. Regardless of how tired and exhausted we were, if we had a ton of fun doing the Trek then it will receive a higher rating.

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About The Author
Jeff Johnson
Questions or comments? I'd love to hear from you! JeffTJohnson@ymail.com

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