Annie’s Canyon Loop Trail

Mother’s Day found me longing for a short, easier hike to celebrate this beautiful day. My son had recently done a hike in Solana Beach, CA, and made the suggestion for me to check it out. I did some research and came across some reviews that made it look promising. A coastal favorite! A hidden gem! One of San Diego County’s best kept secrets! Super cool slot canyon!

I was intrigued. So I packed up my gear and made the hour drive to the trailhead.

Nestled into a residential neighborhood, the trailhead was at the end of a long street. Parking was a bit crowded, as you can only park on the street. There is no parking lot. I made my way to the trailhead after lucking out with finding a spot a few blocks away. It was an overcast day, but seeing the lagoon in the distance, and the pretty wildflowers blooming was no let down.

The trail was nice and well taken care of. Lots of beautiful trees, bushes, flowers and birds happily singing away, lined the path.

Annie’s trail is part of the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve. It was previously known as “The Mushroom Caves.” Story goes that vandals and party-goers used to frequent there, and defaced the sandstone canyon walls, with carvings and graffiti. A generous donation by a 30-year resident named “Annie”, led the way for volunteers and other organizations to complete a clean-up project of the area. It reopened in 2016, with the name Annie’s Canyon Trail.

I reached the slot canyon and was mesmerized by the beautiful sandstone walls. So delicate looking with colors ranging from sand color to darker grays, you could see the many etchings made into the walls. I followed the path to where it became very narrow. In a line, I and the other hikers slowly squeezed our way through. Claustrophobia could definitely show itself during this part of the hike. I focused on my breathing and looked up to the sky above, and tried not to think about the closeness of the walls next to me.

There is a metal ladder that you climb up, that pops you out at the viewpoint. The viewpoint does not disappoint. 360° views of the sandstone canyon, the lagoon and if it had been a more clear day, you would have been able to see the ocean, too. A really amazing view!

I enjoyed the beauty as I caught my breath. That was the most strenuous part of the hike. I headed down the switchbacks and took off for a different part of the trail, that had me walking right next to the lagoon. There are benches along the trail, to sit on and just gaze over the beauty of these marshlands.

Total mileage was 1.5 miles. This is a family-friendly trail. Lots of kids were there exploring this unique, hidden gem of a place.

My Mother’s Day hike was just perfect for me. It truly was everything that the reviews said it was. I highly recommend taking an hour or two to enjoy this beautiful trail.

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