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Hiking Into The New Year

Tis the season to start hiking! As a recent Denver transplant, I am used to foregoing hiking in the winter for alternative cold weather sports like downhill skiing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Here in San Diego; however, winter is the time to get out to the hills of Mission Gorge, Torrey Pines, and Cowles Mountain. Unlike in the summer, when rattlesnakes are rampant and the sun is too hot to maintain a moderate pace, winter is the perfect time to hike in San Diego. Just remember to take your water, snacks, jacket, and hiking shoes with you!

Looking for some winter hiking? Check out some of my personal favorite hikes in the San Diego area:

1. Mission Gorge Trails: With 5800 acres to enjoy, this is one of the biggest and easiest to get to hiking spots in San Diego. There are definitely trails here for anyone. If you are looking to challenge yourself, my favorite is North Fortuna which you can access from any of the 3 entrances. This hike can be between 6 to 8 miles round trip depending where you start. If you are looking for something easy, I recommend the grasslands loop trail which is 1.2 miles one-way, starting around the Old Dam. This is a flatter trail, categorized as “Leisurely”.

2. Iron Mountain: This hike is 6.4 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 1200 feet. It is hard and steep (for San Diego at least) and can be a great day hike. In the winter, the fear of a rattlesnake is less likely, but I have seen 2 of them in the past on this trail so keep your eyes out.

3. Torrey Pines Reserve: This is my go-to hike when I have visitors in town. It is fairly easy depending on where you start the hike (for more challenge, park at the bottom of the hill and walk up the road). Depending on the trail, your route can get steep and rocky but the ocean views are fantastic at the various viewpoints.

In this desert climate, the trails can get slippery at times. If you are worried about hiking up or down hills and think you might fall, contemplate purchasing a pair of hiking poles. They work well, particularly for those with minor balance impairments over more challenging surfaces. I personally love them for long distance hiking and recommend them to any of my patients who are worried about falling when hiking.

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