Explore Tecolote Canyon: A Woodsy Adventure in the City

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Remember the days when playing in the ‘swamp of sadness’ meant skipping over the after rain-shower puddles and shrieking with terror (errr…glee) if you fell in? Even though we live in the big city those fun outdoor adventures are certainly not out of reach. If you’re looking for an outlet to tap into your inner Atreyu, strap your kids in the car after breakfast and fulfill your wild adventure quota before lunch time.

Tecolote Canyon

The Beginning
Nestled in the heart of Clairemont, Tecolote Canyon boasts tons of easy hiking trails, suitable for kids of all ages. Park on the side of the road near the Tecolote Canyon Golf Course to enter the trails from Mt. Acadia Blvd. and take a short (50 foot) walk into a completely secluded (ahem) forest. Whether your mini me is just learning to walk or is an avid runner, the trail is relatively flat and easy to navigate for all ages.

Ditch the stroller and opt for a backpack or sling since adventuring off the beaten path is half the fun. Lesser known and smaller than the popular Mission Gorge Trails, you can hang for hours in this little canyon without seeing another person. Your inner introvert will be thrilled, and your screaming toddler won’t bother a soul (not that you care anyway).

Keep your eyes and ears open for little creatures (read: lizards) rummaging through the leaves, look up in the trees for squawking birds and then scour the bushes for the hidden gem of the canyon…the golf balls! It’s the buried treasure equivalent of a city canyon, folks. The canyon’s proximity to the golf course and backyard playground to large apartment complexes makes Tecolote that appealing and elusive 19th ‘hole’. Warning: dogleg ahead!

Tecolote Canyon Trails

Another great perk of this canyon is the super awesome climbing trees scattered throughout. The towering trees are magnificent for your little (or not so little) monkeys and you’ll be able to partake in cheesy photo opts galore. Pack a picnic and hang out in the shade and see if you can identify all of the wild music songs from the creatures of the canyon.

Trees Tecolote Canyon

The Deets
This 6.5 mile long family friendly canyon doesn’t offer any fancy restrooms or other amenities — it’s just nature. For more information or to plan your route check out the *new* and improved visitor center located at 5180 Tecolote Road. Happy adventuring!

“Like” this story if you’ve visited Tecolote Canyon and then tell us in the comment section your favorite part about this hike. 

— Kate Lane

Thanks for the photos, Kate!