San Dieguito River Park’s Highland Valley Trail is a great hiking area if you’re looking for a longer, scenic walk without a lot of elevation gain. The trail skirts the southern edge of the Highland Valley, staying low on the ridges that line the stunning valley floor.
The Highland Valley Trailhead begins from the parking lot at San Dieguito River Park. You and your pup will start this 4.2-mile there-and-back trail walking through intermittent patches of sunlight and oak trees. This moderately trafficked dirt single-track trail is mostly lined with grass and has a footbridge crossing over the San Diego Aqueduct just under halfway in. There’s also a bench at the bridge crossing where you and your dog can enjoy a more secluded and peaceful part of the trail. You’ll wind your way along the slopes and have views of the surrounding mountains and hillsides, some of which are dotted with beautiful homes.
This is a great hike if you have kiddos in tow. The trail is home to the Ruth Merrill Children’s Interpretive Walk where your child can learn about the ecology of the area on your stroll. Although there are a few somewhat steep, but very short inclines, the rest of the trail is relatively easy to walk on for little ones.
It’s important, and required, that dogs are leashed on this trail as not to damage the habitat or chase wildlife. It’s for Fido’s benefit too, as poison oak is rampant off-trail. Rattle snakes, ticks, fleas and other noxious plants are also a part of the eco system in San Dieguito River Park and along this trail – all of which are better left alone. Even if your dog is leashed and on the trail with you, it’s still a good idea to check them and yourself for ticks when you get home.
For a beautiful hike with your pooch through the hillsides of the Highland Valley, check out San Dieguito River Park’s Highland Valley Trail!