Tecolote Canyon Natural Park

Tecolote Canyon Natural Park trail with University of San Diego in background

Another close to home trail that we enjoy is Tecolote Canyon Natural Park. This park has it all – miles of trails and some grass fields as well as a visitor center, recreation center, and baseball fields. The first time we visited it with Karlie we explored the trails and then played with a tennis ball in the grassy area near the recreation center. The last time we visited with Karlie she was using her wheelchair and it had recently rained. It was one of my favorite outings because she did so well despite using her wheels. She seemed to enjoy taking them through the mud puddles. We took Sunny here when she was a puppy and today we returned.

Karlie at Tecolote Canyon Natural Park
Karlie under the tree
Sunny and Andie

History of Tecolote Canyon

The Tecolote Canyon has an interesting history. Before it was acquired by the City of San Diego and turned into the Tecolote Canyon Natural Park it was used by the Kumeyaay Indians. Then in the late 1800’s settlers farmed and ranched in the canyon. Cattle were still roaming in the canyon in the early 1950’s. In 1978 the land was acquired by the City of San Diego and turned into the park we enjoy today.

Our Adventure

We started our hike by walking on the wide main trail, the Tecolote Canyon trailhead. This trail starts next to the visitor’s center and continues for nearly 6.5M ending in Clairemont. We’ve never walked the entire trail. Instead we usually walk on the main trail until we find a side trail we want to explore.

At the beginning the Tecolote Canyon trailhead is a gravel, but soon turns into hard packed dirt. As it progresses there are sections that are like walking on a sandy beach. The trail is quite wide and mainly flat and straight. The side trails, however, are narrower with inclines and descents. They also have trees and vegetation providing some shade while the main trail has no shade. There is an area to the side of the main trail with a bench and a tree that provides a nice spot to rest and one where we normally take a picture. Because of the lack of shade it’s important to take water as this is generally a warm hike.

the girls under a tree

While on the main trail today we found a bench made from a sections of a chopped down tree. Since Sunny likes to jump up on benches we made sure to take a picture. After that we continued on the main trail for over a mile before finding the trail to Via Las Cumbres. This trail has a pretty steep incline and winds around to Via Las Cumbers. We stopped short of the road, turned around, and found another trail that returned us to the main trail. Then we continued on the main trail until it started to incline steeply. At this point we had walked nearly 2M so we decided to turn around.

natural bench at Tecolote Canyon Natural park
another trail
up the trail

We were nearly back to the visitor’s center when we saw the Battle Trail to the left and decided to explore it. It wound around a wooded area away from the visitor’s center and eventually took us back to the main trail. We continued back on the main trail to the visitor’s center and back to our car. The total distance we hiked was 4.5M.

Battle Trail at Tecolote Canyon Natural Park
on the trail
on the trail

Our Rating

Karlie, Sunny, and I rate Tecolote Canyon Natural Park 3.5 out of 4 paws up. The only thing missing is a water feature. We love the number of trails and the ability to walk longer distances. We love the scenery, the winding and hilly side trails that make things more interesting, and the wide main trail that allows plenty of room to get around other hikers. Also we love that the park has a visitor center with restroom, plenty of parking, and grassy areas for picnicking. All in all this is a wonderful park that we highly recommend visiting.

How Do I Get There?

We always enter the park off Tecolote Road from Sea World Drive, but there are other access points. The entrance off Tecolote Road takes you to the visitor center and the main trail. After entering the parking lot continue driving to the back of the lot near the visitor center. Once you park, walk toward the visitor center to the trail entrance.

entrance to Tecolote Canyon Natural Park

For more information about Tecolote Canyon Natural Park, check out the City of San Diego website.

City of San Diego – Tecolote Canyon Natural Park

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Hello, love the newsletter! Lots of great info. FYI, there is water at Tecolate Canyon now. I went last Thursday, starting by the visitor center and there was a beautiful creek at the north end of the main trail. It was too deep for us to cross and we had to turn back. There was a bridge to the left and another path, but the creek was not fenced and my friend did not want her dog to get in the water. It was right after the sign that had an arrow that pointed to Genesee Ave. We thought the trail was 5 miles roundtrip, but had to turn back at the water and still recorded over 6 miles.
    Once the rain abates and things dry out, I am going to the Santa Margarita Trail in Fallbrook. Super excited to try so thank you.

    1. admin

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I’m so glad that you enjoy the newsletter and thank you for the update on Tecolote Canyon. It can get really muddy there after the rain. I look forward to hearing what you think of Santa Margarita River Trail.

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