Bayside Trail at Cabrillo National Monument. Driving here is a treat in itself, as a vast view of the Pacific unfolds before you. The view is equally enjoyable on Bayside Trail (2 miles round-trip), which is home to the same coastal sagebrush that Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo saw when he first discovered the California coast in the 16th century. After the hike, you can explore nearby tide pools, the monument statue, and the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. Don't worry if you don't see everything on your first visit; your entrance receipt ($5 per car) is good for 7 days. 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr., Point Loma, San Diego, CA, 92106. From I–5, take the Rosecrans exit and turn right on Canon St. then left on Catalina Blvd. (also known as Cabrillo Memorial Dr.); follow until the end. 619/557–5450. www.nps.gov/cabr.
Hike Bike Kayak San Diego. Join guided treks through Torrey Pines State Beach and Reserve, and Mission Trails Regional Park, which includes Cowles Mountain and Fortuna Mountain. Office, 2222 Ave. de la Playa, La Jolla, San Diego, CA, 92037. 858/551–9510. www.hikebikekayak.com.
Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve. Trails at this inland park north of Mira Mesa accommodate equestrians, runners, walkers, and cyclists as well as leashed dogs. Look at maps for trails specific to bikes and horses. A small waterfall among large volcanic rock boulders is one of the park's most popular sites—it's an unexpected oasis amid the arid valley landscape. 12020 Black Mountain Rd., Rancho Peñasquitos, San Diego, CA, 92129. From I–15, exit Mercy Rd. and head west to Black Mountain Rd.; turn right then left at first light; follow road to Ranch House parking lot. 858/484–7504. www.sandiego.gov.
Mission Trails Regional Park. This park 8 miles northeast of downtown encompasses nearly 5,800 acres of wooded hillsides, grasslands, chaparral, and streams. Trails range from easy to difficult; they include one with an impressive view of the city from Cowles Mountain and another along a historic missionary path. The park is also a popular place for rock climbing and camping (the Kumeyaay Lake Campground is open on weekends). Lake Murray is at the southern edge of the park, off Highway 8. 1 Father Junípero Serra Trail, Mission Valley, San Diego, CA, 92119. 619/668–3281. www.mtrp.org.
Torrey Pines State Reserve. Hikers and runners will appreciate this park's many winning features: switch-back trails that descend to the sea, an unparalleled view of the Pacific, and a chance to see the Torrey pine tree, one of the rarest pine breeds in the United States. The reserve hosts guided nature walks as well. All food is prohibited at the reserve, so save the picnic until you reach the beach below. Parking is $12–$15, depending on day and season. 12600 N. Torrey Pines Rd., La Jolla, San Diego, CA, 92037. Exit I–5 at Carmel Valley Rd. and head west toward Coast Hwy. 101 until you reach N. Torrey Pines Rd.; turn left. 858/755–2063. www.parks.ca.gov.