Navajo Canyon, San Diego, CA

Navajo Canyon (San Diego)

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Navajo Canyon (San Diego)

  • Location: Alvarado Canyon Road and Adobe Falls Road, San Diego. From I-8, take exit 9 for Waring Rd. Head north on Waring Rd. and almost immediately, turn right onto Alvarado Canyon Rd. Park where available on the corner of Alvarado Canyon and Adobe Falls.
  • Agency: San Diego Open Space & Parklands
  • Distance: 2.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 200 feet
  • Suggested time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Best season: All year
  • Dogs: Allowed on leash
  • Cell phone reception: Good
  • Water: None
  • Restrooms: None
  • Camping/backpacking: None
  • Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield: San Diego County
  • More information: Trip description here and here; Yelp page here
  • Rating: 2

Hiding out in a densely populated area, Navajo Canyon features a pleasant trail leading through a diverse array of plant life. Both non-native (Mexican fan palms, mustard seeds) and native (cactus, scrub oak, sage) plants can be found in abundance here. The trail never really escapes the nearby street noise and the overhead power lines and bordering homes are hard to ignore but nevertheless, any open space in an urban area should be considered a blessing.

From the corner of Adobe Falls Rd. and Alvarado Canyon Rd., make your way up the canyon on the easy to follow single track. You cross a small seasonal stream (not enough water to merit bringing a filter, especially on such a short hike, but if you’re with dogs, they may enjoy cooling off) and then merge with another abandoned trail before continuing your way northeast. Two steep inclines lead to utility poles while the main route continues its gradual ascent. After a few more stream crossings, the ascent becomes more noticeable, although still not very steep.

At 1.1 miles, you reach the northern trail head at a parking lot next to a childcare center and a church. Retrace your steps, enjoying panoramic views of the canyon on the way back.

Navajo Canyon Open Space, San Diego, CA
Seasonal stream, Navajo Canyon
Navajo Canyon Open Space, San Diego, CA
Goldfield flowers, Navajo Canyon
Navajo Canyon Open Space, San Diego, CA
Coastal scrub oak in Navajo Canyon
Navajo Canyon, San Diego, CA
View from the top of the Navajo Canyon Trail

Text and photography copyright 2017 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities.  By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail.  Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.


    1. The difficulty ratings are pinched from the movie ratings system and apply to difficulty (G = easiest, PG = more challenging, etc) while the numeric ratings are my opinion of the overall experience of the hike (1, 2 = nice little nature walk if you’re in the area, don’t expect to have your mind blown; 10 = expect to have your mind blown).

      1. Great, thank you for reading. Glad you’re enjoying the site. Have a great weekend!

  1. Hi

    I was wondering about rattlesnakes, especially now during the “season” for sightings?

    We’d like to walk with our dogs, but rattlesnakes are a concern even when they’re on leashes.


    1. I don’t recall seeing any rattlers on my trip there. There’s always the chance that you might encounter one but if your dogs are on leash you should be able to intervene in time if you do happen to see one. You can also look into a rattlesnake aversion training class for dogs.

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