There are two ways to start this pawsome trail. The first option is to park at the Lower Noble Trailhead on Pine Creek Road, where you'll need a $5 daily Adventure Pass, but will find more ample parking, a vault toilet, and potable water. This option will mean more of an uphill hike if you intend to hike point to point and have someone pick you up at the upper trailhead. If you start at the upper Penny Pines Trailhead at 12031 Sunrise Highway, you won't have to pay a parking fee and will have a more downhill hike, but won't have a bathroom at the trailhead. It's also a longer drive from downtown San Diego.
Regardless of how you start, you're sure to end your day with a big smile on your face after hiking Noble Canyon. Mountain bikers will whizz by as your hike takes you from arid deserts to oak forests to high alpine meadows (or the reverse, if you're taking the downhill route). As the cactus and yucca of the lower elevations give way to shrubby chaparral and oak glades, you'll cross Pine Creek several times. There's several rock outcroppings to scramble over as you ascend, and plenty of wildflowers for you and your dog to sniff in the spring and summer. Bay and sage are other scents you'll pick up even with a nose less sensitive than your pup's. Pines flank the sides of the trail as it evens out in the highlands where golden grasses gently sway under the bright sun. On a clear day, you can see the San Jacinto and San Gorgonio mountains in the distance as you approach the upper trailhead.
It's hard to believe that the oak-shaded creek and sun-baked desert hillsides are part of the same hike. You'll certainly feel like you've completed an epic journey when you reach the end of the Noble Canyon Trail. Be sure to celebrate the pawsome day you spent in this pristine wilderness with some treats!