Best 5 Hiking Trails in Cardiff-by-the-Sea

Cardiff-by-the-Sea may have some of the best-looking beaches around, but one of its biggest perks is that you'll never run out of activities to enjoy here, and hiking is a major draw to the area.

With gorgeous coast-to-mountain landscapes, ocean views, and diverse wetlands let yourself be amazed by some of the best hiking trails in San Diego County.

San Elijo Lagoon

This 1000-acre coastal wetland, one of the few surviving and, at the same time, largest wetlands in San Diego County, has one of the best hiking trails that you can explore in the area. The length and difficulty of this hike will depend on which trail and direction you will be venturing upon, as there are multiple options available.

Cardiff Beach to Swami's Beach

This 1.7 miles hike is another popular one among enthusiasts and the views of the ocean and cliffs here are something that's gonna stick with you for a while.

South Carlsbad to San Elijo Beach Trail

If you want to take it a step forward, you could take the trail along the coastline from San Elijo Beach, all the way up to South Carlsbad and enjoy the 7 miles hike along the beach. This region between Cardiff Beach and San Clemente is one of the best beach hiking trails in the state while not overly difficult and offers superb scenery. This trail has bike paths available as well if hiking is not really your cup of tea. It's also best to take this trail at low tide, otherwise, you might have to go back sooner than anticipated.

Annie Canyon's Trail

South of Cardiff you'll find this rather unique, newly restored trail which, although short, it can be a small challenge with its steep and sometimes really narrow pathways if you take the canyon route. This trail is located just southeast of the San Elijo Lagoon which makes for a stunning view of the ocean and the lagoon once you reach the viewpoint up top. The trail is accessible through several trailheads, the easiest and shortest route to it being from North Rios Avenue Trailhead, located in Solana Beach.

Manchester Preserve Hiking Trails

Heading east from Cardiff, among residential neighborhoods you will find the Manchester Preserve, which, again, could prove quite challenging to the untrained, but the effort is well worth it. Rather than a single route, Manchester Preserve is made of a network of trails and, while a short loop around the perimeter can be done in an hour or less, the more adventurous ones may spend a lot more time here exploring the scenic canyon area.