Annie’s Canyon Trail

  • DIFFICULTY: Easy (with strenuous portions)
  • DISTANCE (ROUND-TRIP): 2 miles via Via Poco, 1.6 miles via Solana Hills and 1.4 miles via Rios Ave 

  • TIME: 40-60 minutes

  • HOURS: Sunrise to sunset


  • PETS/ANIMALS: Leashed dogs welcome, except in the slot canyon portion

  • ENTRANCE: Via Poco Trailhead See map or Solana Hills Trailhead See map or Rios Ave Trailhead See map 

  • CLOSEST PUBLIC TRANSIT: Solana Beach Transit See map

  • PARKING: Parking at The San Elijo Activity Hub Park & Ride. Please utilize waste and recycling containers at the trailhead.

  • TERRAIN: Paved and flat for the beginning portion, transitioning into loose sand and uneven terrain. 

    The slot canyon’s vertical, narrow areas could aggravate claustrophobia. On the slot canyon path, there are ladder-style stairs, and on the switchback approach, you encounter wooden-plank stairs. At certain points, you need to scramble (aka use your hands + feet to propel yourself up).

    Note some soil erosion on the descending trail from Annie’s Canyon viewpoint and some stairs.

Expansive views of San Elijo Lagoon and a slot canyon adventure.

Starting at the new San Elijo Activity Hub Park & Ride you can wander along the paved trail as you take in the views of the newly restored San Elijo Lagoon.

Cross the new suspension bridge under the I-5 freeway that connects you to the south side of the channel and Annie’s Canyon Trail. As you make your way down the hiking path, turn right and take the winding path to the slot canyon trailhead.  Wayfinding signs will direct you along the path.

Visit Annie’s Canyon Trail, where narrow sandstone walls hug hikers, as they make their way through this true slot canyon. Take plenty of photos (Tag your Instagram photos with #anniescanyontrail) – and a deep breath of ocean air – when you’re on this memorable path! Be prepared for a steep climb on the return journey after exploring the slot canyon.

Keep an eye out for…

Woman looks up to the walls from the floor of the slot canyonWoman looks up to the walls from the floor of the slot canyon
No. 1

Maritime terraces

which look like giant staircases and each feature a flat plateau at the top.

Sunlight coming through the slot canyon showing off its natural walls and featuresSunlight coming through the slot canyon showing off its natural walls and features
No. 2

The beauty of natural erosion

on the canyon walls, which thousands of years of rain created.

Man, woman and two children overlook the lagoon from the top of Annie's canyon trailMan, woman and two children overlook the lagoon from the top of Annie's canyon trail
No. 3

Impressive views

of the Pacific Ocean and Central Basin.

Take a Virtual Hike

What to expect

  1. Start the trail at the Via Poco trailhead at The San Elijo Activity Hub Park & Ride – you will come across a kiosk along with waste and recycling bins. Utilizing the crosswalk to the South of the Park & Ride, cross Manchester and head towards the suspension bridge.
  2. After you cross the bridge, take the path to the right and continue on your way down the hiking trail.
  3. Keep right when you come across a fork in the road, this winding path will take you to the Annie's Canyon trailhead.
  4. As you approach Annie’s Canyon Trail, there are 2 options: (1) You can go through the canyon, which requires some strenuous activity, or (2) you can hike up the switchback portion. Note the switchback’s moderate incline (rising 300 feet in a quarter-mile).
  1. If you decide to go through the canyon, keep in mind that the path is one-way, so you must take the switchback path down. As you progress through the canyon, the path narrows. However, you can use available footholds – and ladder-like stairs – to maneuver to the top of the canyon.
  2. Whether you go through the canyon or up the switchbacks, the top of Annie’s Canyon Trail offers views of the Pacific Ocean and Central Basin.
  3. Once you’re ready for the return journey, head back towards the I-5 freeway to hike along the Solana Hills trail. Prepare for a steep climb up to the trailhead.

Photo Gallery

From Our Visitors

  • @drbrookejune link

    Amazing geology. A short hike from the entrance. Amazing short walk and climb through the canyon. It is quite steep, but there is a…
    Read more

    Cheryl McLeod
  • @libberated link

    Great place! The slot canyons are fairly steep and very tight. Kids managed it fine though.
    Read more

    Casey Dickinson
  • @nmt_photos link

    Fun quick hike and one of the only slot canyons in San Diego. Ensure you do the Canyon from the bottom up or you will run into a bunch…
    Read more

    Michael Harlow
  • @courtneypoole link

    One of the few places in North County to get a little peace and quiet and explore the wonders of nature. Depending on the time of the…
    Read more

    Daniel Proctor

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