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Indian Head Canyon Trails


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  • Directions

  • Lat/Lng

    33.07394, -117.28292
  • Size

    55.71 acres

Contact Information


Indian Head Canyon is a terrific, 56-acre open space area with a variety of trails, from wide, smooth paths with gentle slope, to steep, technical singletrack.  Trails are marked and generally loop and connect back to main trails returning to the staging area at Quail Gardens Drive.  While the main trails are mostly wide paths and not technical, many connecting trails feature some steep sections. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes with good traction and watch your step!

Fun Fact: Indian Head Canyon earned its reputation in the 1940’s from local schoolchildren as a good spot to hunt arrowheads. These arrowheads were likely left by the NorthernDiegueno (Native Americans) who once previously inhabited the area.

  • No Restrooms
  • On-Street Parking
Good For
Trail Running
Rules & Regulations
Dogs Permitted
Dogs Permitted With Restrictions

Additional Information

Explore Encinitas' Wilder Side

The City of Encinitas and its residents value the importance ofnature and open space. Encinitas boasts abundant opportunities to get outdoorsand enjoy a hike or some quiet time in nature. The Parks, Recreation andCultural Arts Department is responsible for 85 acres of open space and 40 milesof trails. The City's Recreational Trails Master Plan includes plans to developan additional 40 miles of trails and pedestrian connections throughout theCity.

Citytrails provide pedestrian, bicycle and/or equestrian access to undeveloped openspaces such as Indian Head Canyon and Manchester Preserve. The Olivenhaincommunity enjoys an extensive network of trails relative to other parts of theCity. The Encinitas Ranch Specific Plan area has a great trail system as well.The San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve includes approximately five miles oftrails managed by the County of San Diego, which serve City residents andvisitors.

Report Issues

Report problems such as washed out bridges, downed trees, dangerous ruts, vandalism, dead animals or unsafe conditions to the City’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department at (760) 633-2740 or Report sick, injured or dangerous animals and dogs off-leash to the San Diego Humane Society (619) 243-3446

Trail Etiquette

Share the Trails

  • Cyclists yield to all other trail users
  • On busy trails, proceed single file. Slower traffic should keep right of the trail;faster users pass on the left
  • If you are using headphones, make sure that the volume neither prevents youfrom hearing what is happening around you or disturbs other trails users
  • When passing other trail users, use courtesy and provide adequate warning andreduce speed
  • It is recommended that cyclists use a bell on multi-user trailsBicyclistsShould:
  • Announce their presence, whether approaching from the front or rear, withinreasonable distance so they can be heard. Say "bicyclist approaching."Hikersand Joggers with Dog(s) Should:
  • Keep dogs on 6-foot leash at all times
  • Clean up after pets

Respect the Trails

  • Please stay off of wet, soggy trails. Footprints and bicycle tire tracks damagethe trail surface. Give trails time to dry after rains.
  • When on bicycle, avoid skidding
  • Don’t cut corners, shortcuts or blaze new trailsPack it in-Pack it out
  • Keep our trails and open spaces clean. Use trash receptacles located alongpathways or dispose of your trash when you leave

Using the Trails

The City of Encinitas' 40-plus miles of trails are meant to be enjoyed and shared with other humans, with their dogs and horses, and with the creatures who inhabit the surrounding natural environment.

Trail Users

Most trails are open to hikers (also joggers, walkers and runners with jogging strollers), bicyclists and equestrians. Unless otherwise noted, all trails are open to all three user groups. Olivenhain trails attract the greatest diversity of users. Horses are not permitted on the Encinitas Ranch Trails or Manchester Preserve Trails, which are owned by the Center for Natural Lands Management and operated by the City of Encinitas. Bicyclists are not permitted on some of the Encinitas Ranch Trails.

General Rules

Please take note of the rules posted on signs at trail heads and access points. These include:

  • Trail hours are sunrise to sunset
  • No littering or dumping. Please use the trash receptacles located along pathways or dispose of your refuse when you leave
  • Dogs must be leashed. People must pick up after their pets
  • No fires or smoking
  • No camping

City of Encinitas Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department

The Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department isresponsible for a wide range of services for the City including recreationprograms, city-wide special events, park, beach and recreational trailmaintenance, management of open space, streetscape maintenance, animalservices, and oversight of the administration of the Encinitas Ranch GolfAuthority.

TheParks, Beaches and Trails Division is responsible for the maintenance andrepair of all parks, beach and trail facilities, including 10 miles ofstreetscapes, 82 acres of open space, 153 acres of both developed andundeveloped parks, 45 acres of beaches, and over 40 miles of trails. We hopethat you enjoy getting out and exploring Encinitas’ trails and beautiful openspaces.

General Park Information

Park hours are 5am - 10pm unless stated otherwise. Beach parkingand amenities hours are 5am - 10pm. Beach is closed 2am - 4am. Please no glasscontainers, polystyrene food containers or smoking allowed at City parks,beaches and trails. Dogs must be on a leash at all times unless otherwise noted.

Allparks are available on a first come, first served basis. Special Event andSpecial Ceremony Permits are available for select locations (see specific siteinformation below). More information on special permits is available on the Rentals andReservations page. Please call (760) 633-2740 to check foravailability.