Must-Sees

Slot Canyon

  • HOURS: Sunrise to sunset

  • RESTROOMS: No

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

  • ENTRANCE: Rios Ave Trailhead   See map

  • CLOSEST PUBLIC TRANSIT: Solana Beach Transit  See map

  • PARKING: As you drive to the end of Rios Ave, there’s a cul-de-sac, which is where the trailhead is located. Find street parking along Rios Ave. Though we’re in nature, remember that we’re parking in a neighborhood, so please keep all driveways clear.

  • TERRAIN: A mostly even path to reach Annie’s Canyon Trail. However, watch out for tree roots that people could trip on. Note some soil erosion on the descending trail from Annie’s Canyon viewpoint and some stairs.

    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).

See a true natural wonder – right in your county’s backyard –

The sandstone canyon walls display breathtaking shapes that are a don’t-miss gift from mother nature. What happens when thousands of years of coastal rains fall? In this particular case, those rains yielded a unique slot canyon – and what we think is one of the best hikes in San Diego – for us to appreciate and enjoy.

In this slot canyon, you get up-close and personal with San Diego’s unique geology. On either side of you, you can observe these naturally eroding canyon walls. Don’t forget your camera – and a spirit of adventure! (Tag your Instagram photos with #anniescanyontrail)

What to Expect

  1. Starting with a slight decline with spaced-out steps, the Rios Trail brings you through the coastal sage scrub.
  2. Green signs will direct you towards Annie’s Canyon Trail as you continue to follow the Rios Trail.
  3. Benches along the trail provide resting places with fantastic views of the estuary channels throughout the lagoon.
  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 approx. a quarter-mile) and erosion-control steps.
  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 wetlands.
  3. Once you’re ready for the return journey, go down to the Rios Trail, and retrace your steps. You arrive at the trailhead.

From Our Visitors

  • @outdoorsytammy

    The trails at San Elijo lagoon are some of my favorite in the county as they represent five of the nine habitats in the region: salt marsh…
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    Daniel K

    Oceanside, CA

  • @emily_lafreniere_photography

    This a short, fun hike through a narrow slot canyon in Solana Beach. Who knew we had one of these in our backyard?!
    Read more

    Devi K.

    San Diego, CA

  • @spiritualwomenpowerfulmagic

    It is a short and fun hike. I am not a hard core hiking person so this was perfect for me. The difficulty level is moderate. The hike is very…
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    Vaani S

    San Diego, CA

  • @bellawishes

    It’s generally safe, and lots of fun for kids. There are a few little caves that kids have a lot of fun with. We did the Annie’s canyon loop…
    Read more

    Devi K

    San Diego, CA

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