San Diego Essential Guide


Hike the Pacific Crest Trail

PCT signThe 2,650-mile-long Pacific Crest Trail runs from Mexico to Canada – and its first 133 miles meander through San Diego’s backyard.

The PCT begins in Campo, at the U.S./Mexico border fence, about 50 miles east of downtown San Diego. From there it traverses a range of topography and climate zones – from the sizzling Anza Borrego Desert (to be avoided in summer) to the mountains of the Cleveland National Forest, where trails can sometimes be snowbound in winter.

The 100-mile marker on the PCT

PCT’s 100-mile marker

There are dozens of sections of the trail accessible to day-hikers. (Download free trail maps at Get great views of the desert floor and 17 surrounding peaks from the Mount Laguna section of the trail near Foster Point.  Follow the trail as it wends its way along golden hillsides studded with live oak and chaparral near Warner Springs.  (You’ll see the 100-mile PCT trail marker here.)  The trail crosses into Riverside County at mile 133, just north of Warner Springs.

PCT priscillaThe PCT is open only to hikers, equestrians and dogs on leashes. Leave your dirt bike at home.
Be sure to carry lots of water. And keep an eye out for rattlesnakes and poison oak.

Parking permits are required in some areas. Get them at San Diego area outdoor stores such as REI.