Annie's Canyon, Encinitas CA

• 5-star hike
• 1.6 mile part loop
• Medium difficulty | Gain 190 feet
• Encinitas, CA | San Diego Region
• Driving Directions: Trailhead

Man walking up a narrow crack between two tall standstone clif faces.
A tight squeeze in Annie's Canyon.

California Coastlines: Mori Point
California Coastlines
California coastal hikes and beaches to check out.

Combining the expansive views over the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Preserve with a tour through the tight spaces of Annie's Canyon provides a fun and dramatic coastal hike near Encinitas, CA. This route is great for families and hikers of all levels of ability, plus those hesitant about squeezing through the narrow canyon walls have an alternative option of appreciating it from above.

Begin at the end of North Rios Avenue at Solana Beach and follow the trail along the wetlands inland towards the canyon. Expect to find binocular wielding birders here spotting osprey, egrets and other wildfowl along the main trail and a couple of short loops that offer a little more seclusion.
Expand Map

red icon Rios Avenue to Annie's Canyon 5★
1.6 mi, Part-Loop, Medium, Gain 190 feet
Trailspotting Map: AllTrails, GPX File

The entrance to Annie's Canyon Trail is marked with a sign that prompts you to make a decision. Turn right to hike through the slot canyon or take a left up a series of switchbacks that lead to the canyon viewpoint. We'd recommend a right turn to everybody, since you can explore the canyon as far as you feel comfortable and then turn back if you prefer. Expect to find the canyon initially easy going, becoming tighter and requiring climbs up several large steps. The last part of the canyon climb is accomplished with help from a set of some steel steps that should be easy for most. The uphill switchbacks lead to a partial viewpoint of the canyon, but the views here are nowhere near as dramatic as exploring the canyon for yourself. The switchback trail is also used as the return route back to the start of the canyon loop, where like us you may choose to go through the canyon again!

Annie's Canyon is periodically closed after wet weather makes the route difficult and prone to trail damage. Check the official Nature Collective link at the bottom of this article to confirm that the trail is open. The public map at AllTrails is also linked below and recent comments can also provide enlightenment on the status of the canyon trail, though AllTrails often describes the route closed when it is actually open.

Roadside parking is available close to trailhead and the end of North Rios Avenue which is a residential neighborhood. As this is a popular trail, parking spots can fill up a long way down the street. We've also linked an alternative Solana Hills Drive trailhead and trail route in an AllTrails link below, but following close to Interstate 5 this trail is less desirable than the route along Rios Avenue Trail.

Two hikers on the sandy trail, surrounded by grasses, wildflowers and an occasional tree. Wetlands are visible to the right, and the ocean can be seen in the distance.
Hiking the Rios Avenue Trail by San Elijo Lagoon.

Three people walk along a sandy trail into a sandstone canyon. Green grass and trees are visible around the canyon.
Entering the canyon.

Left: walking behind a man with pink shorts and gold sneakers as he slowly steps up a tight canyon gully. Right: View from inside a small sandstone cavern. People have etched words and pictographs into the walls.
Narrow gully walls. | Etchings in a small cavern.

• Official Site: Nature Collective
• Public Map at AllTrails: Rios Avenue, Solana Hills Dr

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