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Annie's Canyon Trail via North Rios Trail

San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve

San Diego Metro Area, California

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Annie's Canyon Trail via North Rios Trail

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  • The view from Annie's Canyon  trailhead.- Annie's Canyon Trail via North Rios Trail
  • The trail passes through a small grove.- Annie's Canyon Trail via North Rios Trail
  • There are several places on Annie's Canyon Trail to rest and enjoy the view of San Elijo Lagoon along the way.- Annie's Canyon Trail via North Rios Trail
  • Annie's Canyon Trail follows the southern perimeter of San Elijo Lagoon.- Annie's Canyon Trail via North Rios Trail
  • A prickly pear cactus heavy with fruit.- Annie's Canyon Trail via North Rios Trail
  • Annie's Canyon Trail is great for bird-watching.- Annie's Canyon Trail via North Rios Trail
  • Wildflowers blooming along Annie's Canyon Trail.- Annie's Canyon Trail via North Rios Trail
  • The entrance into the canyon on Annie's Canyon Trail.- Annie's Canyon Trail via North Rios Trail
  • The walls of the canyon quickly grow narrow on Annie's Canyon Trail.- Annie's Canyon Trail via North Rios Trail
  • Annie's Canyon Trail is well-marked.- Annie's Canyon Trail via North Rios Trail
  • The view inside the slot canyon on Annie's Canyon Trail.- Annie's Canyon Trail via North Rios Trail
  • A hiker navigating through the slot canyon on Annie's Canyon Trail.- Annie's Canyon Trail via North Rios Trail
  • The otherworldly beauty of the slot canyon on Annie's Canyon Trail.- Annie's Canyon Trail via North Rios Trail
  • A short climb up a ladder on Annie's Canyon Trail is required to get out of the slot canyon.- Annie's Canyon Trail via North Rios Trail
  • The view after climbing out of the slot canyon on Annie's Canyon Trail.- Annie's Canyon Trail via North Rios Trail
  • The view looking back into the canyon on Annie's Canyon Trail.- Annie's Canyon Trail via North Rios Trail
  • The view looking down the ladder and into the slot canyon on Annie's Canyon Trail.- Annie's Canyon Trail via North Rios Trail
  • Hikers are rewarded with a scenic view at the top of Annie's Canyon Trail.- Annie's Canyon Trail via North Rios Trail
  • View of San Elijo Lagoon and the Pacific Ocean from Annie's Canyon Trail.- Annie's Canyon Trail via North Rios Trail
  • Wildflowers blooming along Annie's Canyon Trail.- Annie's Canyon Trail via North Rios Trail
  • View of San Elijo Lagoon and the Pacific Ocean from Annie's Canyon Trail.- Annie's Canyon Trail via North Rios Trail
  • Wildflowers blooming along Annie's Canyon Trail.- Annie's Canyon Trail via North Rios Trail
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Slot canyon. Beautiful views. Wildflowers.
Cons: 
Graffiti. Highway noise.
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Region:
San Diego Metro Area, CA
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
Yes, with restrictions
Highest point: 
167.00 ft (50.90 m)
Year round: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
None
Permit required: 
No
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
1.50 mi (2.41 km)
Total elevation gain: 
245.00 ft (74.68 m)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
25.00 ft (7.62 m)
Typically multi-day: 
No
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

Annie’s Canyon Trail, formerly known as the Mushroom Caves Trail, is a popular micro-adventure in San Diego that features a slot canyon and impressive oceanic views. It was reopened in 2016 after extensive efforts to remove vandalism from the canyon walls and restore its natural beauty.

The trail begins at the end of North Rios Avenue, and follows the southern perimeter of the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve for the first half-mile. Despite traffic noise from nearby I-5, this section of the hike is peaceful, and it features wildflowers and views of the lagoon. The area is also perfect for bird-watching: roughly 40% of all North American bird species have been spotted at San Elijo Lagoon. The trail then veers off to the right and comes to a fork. Hikers have the option to bypass the canyon and go directly to the viewpoint or enter the slot canyon via a one-way loop, which ultimately leads to the viewpoint as well.

Although it may be tempting to explore the unique sandstone formations, the area is a sensitive ecological zone. Be sure to stay on the marked trail and follow the Leave No Trace principle. The slot canyon ends rather abruptly, and a climb up a short ladder is required to get out. At the top, hikers are rewarded with stunning views of San Elijo Lagoon, the ecological reserve, and the Pacific Ocean.

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(52 within a 30 mile radius)

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