Hello everyone! This is a friendly reminder that any of these fun places we may visit, we are a guest at. Please treat both businesses and trails with the utmost respect. We here at Hidden San Diego follow the 'Leave no Trace' mantra, meaning whatever you bring with you comes back with you. If you see trash on a trail, please do your part to help remove it. Remember, we are not picking up trash from another person but instead cleaning up for Mother Nature. Happy adventures!
Phone: (760) 436-3944
Hike: 1.6 miles Level: Moderate
Dog-Friendly: Yes (but there is one area of climbing where small dogs must be carried up and large dogs cannot make it up)
Known forever by the locals as the Mushroom Caves, this once no-trespassing hike has been cleaned up and opened to the public as Annie’s Canyon Trail. Millions of years ago this canyon was underwater, which is how the unique slot formations were created. We have similar slot canyons in the Anza Borrego Desert known as the Mud Caves.
I had known about the Mushroom Caves for years before I finally visited it. I had even seen photos and for whatever reason, always put this place on the back burner. I now realize that photos cannot quite capture the enormity or true magic of this place.
Annie’s Canyon Trail is a must-visit spot for the true adventurers. There are secret caves and footsteps carved out of the delicate sandstone everywhere. It is super-slippery so I really don’t recommend too much climbing. I didn’t even begin to scrape the surface of this spot.
Since opening this area to the public, most of the more dangerous parts have been closed off. You could have gotten seriously injured, fall, slide to your death, hit a soft-spot on the edge and have it collapse, etc.
Overall, I am happy that this spot is now public. People were destroying these ancient slot canyons with graffiti, which then goes directly to the water sources nearby after a good rain. I wish we could all be more sensitive to nature. On the flip side of this spot being public, there are now a lot more people doing the trail.
Although Annie’s Canyon Trail is technically dog-friendly, there is a ladder you have to climb at the very end to finish the loop. If you have a large dog, it is definitely safest to go back the same way you came in. If your dog is small enough, you can most likely carry it up and possibly hand it to someone waiting at the top of the ladder. That is what I have always done with my pup. She loves it here by the way!
The hike takes you directly alongside the lagoon:
There are now clear signs letting you know that you’ve arrived at the Mushroom Caves, as well as a noticeable change in scenery:
Sage really enjoyed herself out here! Some areas we had to lift her in order for her to get up. Not sure I would recommend bringing larger dogs.
Hey anon, thank you for all the tips! I have been writing them down and will one day explore them all. Love all the help!
January 8, 2014
My belief is, if you want to find these places bad enough you will find them. Magic spots like these deserve a good hunt. That is part of the adventure. Many are not deserving of being spoon fed such locations.
January 11, 2014
That is not my problem. Do you think I was given ANY directions on how to get here? NO. I had to figure it out myself. If me and my website disappoint you then just don’t come here. Simple as that. 🙂
January 11, 2014
then you should remove this site because now it serves no purprose to people like me and my lady who want to see the rumored beauty of this place for the first time.
thanks for that.
January 11, 2014
Just found your site. I love it! I’ve been doing alot hiking/driving/exploring to find secret places close to SD. I truly adore your site and will visit them!
January 30, 2014
Thank you so much for your website and incredible adventures! There is so much to see, explore, discover, and take in through every sense including those we feel in our dreams.
We found this place by chance over a decade ago. There are other incredible features maybe 30 minutes along the beach from here if the tide is super low. That is how we got here first, indirectly and we explored the area for hours. By the time we arrived at the caves, it was getting dark but we still stayed for a long time and got visited by some bats and an owl.
Have you been to the hot spring’s cave near SF that you can only go to during the lowest tide of the year? A few months later we were there and a couple from Ontario (Canada) were talking about this place. It was one of their first national native americans who described this place in detail. There aren’t any people who fully understand the language and a university in New York is working on deciphering it. The people from Ontario were language researchers and the mushroom cave was one of the several places deciphered by their team. I wish I could remember more details but that is a long ways to travel by foot… This place truly is magical! It is up to all of us to not mess this up.
February 20, 2014
Hee hee the last 2 photos give a pretty good idea of where it is. Going to search for it tomorrow! Love love love your site. I have some good spots to share with you later..
March 9, 2014
Found em. COOL 🙂
March 15, 2014
one of my brothers friends was the person that died of strairway to heaven
April 2, 2014
Wow, the view is nice. I want to know where. 🙁
April 11, 2014
As a local, i expected to know about this place but today was my first time going and it was unbelievable! I was looking for it for about 30 minutes until i finally stumbled upon it. I am so glad i visited the caves. I will definitely swing by again and bring a trash bag with me! Please preserve the caves, as they are beyond beauty itself and it’s extremely sad to see it all trashed up!
May 7, 2015
Seems the rangers have given up trying to keep people out now. They’ve cut new trails into the caves and have opened it all up to the public. I was there over the weekend and it was full of people.
Upside: more people equals fewer opportunities for graffiti and litter.
Downside: traffic jams in the slot canyons and higher likelihood of someone doing serious injury to themselves on the more technical climbs.
December 28, 2015
There’s trails up to the cave (alcove) now! they’ve marked off areas that are animal habitats. snakes and explorers coexist now.
June 8, 2016
Rattlesnakes…? : s
December 28, 2018
why ofc, what else? cuddly snakes?
May 5, 2020
Why is it called mushroom caves?
May 14, 2020