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Where can I go Hiking in San Diego: Outdoor Therapy!!

Spring and Summer are here! Wildflowers are blooming from the desert to the sea, and the hills are so green it’s hard to believe we are in Southern California and not some verdant location like Ireland. You might be wondering, why am I writing a mental health blog about this unusually robust spring and summer bloom? If you’ve read some of my previous blogposts, you might have figured out my angle here- being outside in nature is good for our minds, bodies, and mental states. This spring is a great time to get outside and enjoy the colorful abundance that nature provides, and enjoy the boost to our physical and mental states while we are at it!

As a San Diego native, my copy of “Afoot and Afield: San Diego County”, a.k.a. the “Hiking Bible” of San Diego (to drive my point home, the new edition is co-authored by Scott Turner, local therapist and avid hiker), is dog-eared and full of notes from hikes spanning the entire County. Even if you are not an avid hiker, there are plenty of ways to enjoy this bountiful spring! Here are some ideas for nearby nature to get you started:

  1. San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve– Birds abound in this coastal wetland bordered by Encinitas, Solana Beach, and Rancho Santa Fe. There is a visitor center and ten trails to choose from for your next nearby adventure! https://www.sanelijo.org/trail

  2. Torrey Pines State Natural Preserve– Located between La Jolla and Del Mar, this special ecological park is home to the rare Torrey pine and offers trails for beginners through expert with incredible views of the ocean. https://torreypine.org/reserveinfo/trails/

  3. Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve– Located off the 15 freeway north of Mira Mesa, this preserve spans seven miles towards the ocean. Follow along the Penasquitos Creek to a waterfall, visit historic adobes, and catch sightings of 175 bird species or mammals such as coyotes and muledeer! https://www.sandiego.gov/park-and-recreation/parks/osp/lospenasquitos

  4. Anza Borrego State Park– The park headquarters and visitor center are a great place to begin, where you can learn about the plants and animals you might see on your hike. There is a short but rocky trail near the campground called “Palm Canyon Trail”, a 3.25 loop which leads to a palm oasis, and is good for kids and able-bodied adults. Bring lots of water! Also, temps can get toasty so it’s a good idea to aim for a morning or late afternoon hike. https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=638

  5. Black Mountain Ranch Open Space Park– The “Jas Arnold Trail for All People”, the brain child of a Penasquitos resident who unfortunately lost his life to Multiple Sclerosis in 2016, opened last year and is safe and open to “All People” with all types of abilities. Follow this link to read more about the “Trail for All People” and the inspirational story behind it.


Alright, you all know what to do: Get out and enjoy some nature!

Your brain and body will thank you for it! If you would like to speak with a therapist about ways you can support your mental health, call Coherence Associates 760-942-8663, or visit coherenceassociates.com.

Connie Glenn, M.S, LMFT

Marriage and Family Therapist Coherence Associates, Inc.

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