Solana Hills to Annie's Canyon Trail

  • DIFFICULTY: Easy (with strenuous portions)

  • DISTANCE (ROUND-TRIP): 1.6 miles

  • TIME: 40 minutes

  • HOURS: Sunrise to sunset 


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

  • ENTRANCE: Solana Hills Trailhead, Solana Beach, CA  See map

  • CLOSEST PUBLIC TRANSIT: Solana Beach Transit  See map

  • PARKING: Street parking. Please remember that you are parking in a neighborhood, so keep all driveways clear and be respectful of neighbors. Please utilize waste and recycling containers at the trailhead.

  • TERRAIN: Uneven, including erosion-control stairs on steep sections.

    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 the Pacific Ocean.

Wander down the Solana Hills trail and see panoramic views of both the Pacific Ocean and the San Elijo Lagoon.

Descend down the Solana Hills trail for expansive views of the newly restored San Elijo Lagoon. This trail will bring you along the I-5 Freeway and to the new suspension pedestrian bridge that connects you to the north side of the channel, perfect for a longer hike. At the bottom of the hill, turn left and head towards Annie’s Canyon Trail  – be prepared for a steep climb on the return journey after exploring the slot canyon.

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…

No. 1

Incredible views of the of the Central and East Basin

visit during low tide to see the birds gather on the mudflats

Suspense bridge over San Elijo Lagoon allows people to connect to trailsSuspense bridge over San Elijo Lagoon allows people to connect to trails
No. 2

The I-5 bridge

where you’ll find a new bike and pedestrian underpass

Woman walking through sandstone walled slot canyonWoman walking through sandstone walled slot canyon
No. 3

The beauty of natural erosion

as you adventure through the slot canyon

What to Expect

  1. Start the trail at the Solana Hills trailhead – after a slight incline you will come across a kiosk along with waste and recycling bins.
  2. Continue the trail following a moderate incline and decline. Admire the expansive views of the Central + East Basin.
  3. At the bottom of the hill, keep left and follow the winding trail heading West.
  4. As you approach Annie’s Canyon Trail on the left, 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, turn right and follow the trail back to the trailhead.

On your hike, you might see . . .

Anna’s hummingbird

This common hummingbird of the Pacific Coast is often seen buzzing around

More info


Blooming in Spring, the yellow and orange flowers of Deerweed bring pops of color to the trail.

More info

More to Explore

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Rios East Trail 

Continue on the easy-going Rios Trail to get a closer look at the channels

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Rios West Trail to Nature Center

Rios West Trail to Nature Center 

Explore this newly opened trail and cross the Buhr + Martin nature bridges to visit the Nature Center. 

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Harbaugh Seaside Trails

Harbaugh Seaside Trails

Check out our newest open space with expansive marine views – ideal for dog walking, sunset watching, and peaceful contemplation in nature.

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