Via Poco to Annie's Canyon Trail

  • DIFFICULTY: Easy (with strenuous portions)

  • DISTANCE (ROUND-TRIP): 2 miles

  • TIME: 60 minutes

  • HOURS: Sunrise to sunset 


  • PETS/ANIMALS: Leashed dogs welcome, except in the slot canyon portion

  • ENTRANCE: Via Poco Trailhead, Solana Beach, CA  See map

  • CLOSEST PUBLIC TRANSIT: Solana Beach Transit  See map

  • PARKING: Parking at The San Elijo Activity Hub Park & Ride. Please utilize waste and recycling containers at the trailhead.

  • TERRAIN: Paved and flat for the beginning portion, transitioning into loose sand and uneven terrain. 

    The slot canyon’s vertical, narrow areas could aggravate claustrophobia. On the slot canyon path, there are ladder-style stairs, and on the switchback approach, you encounter wooden-plank stairs. At certain points, you need to scramble (aka use your hands + feet to propel yourself up).

    Note some soil erosion on the descending trail from Annie’s Canyon viewpoint and some stairs.

Expansive views of San Elijo Lagoon and a slot canyon adventure.

Starting at the new San Elijo Activity Hub Park & Ride you can wander along the paved trail as you take in the views of the newly restored San Elijo Lagoon.

Cross the new suspension bridge under the I-5 freeway that connects you to the south side of the channel and Annie’s Canyon Trail. As you make your way down the hiking path, turn right and take the winding path to the slot canyon trailhead.  Wayfinding signs will direct you along the path.

Visit Annie’s Canyon Trail, where narrow sandstone walls hug hikers, as they make their way through this true slot canyon. Take plenty of photos (Tag your Instagram photos with #anniescanyontrail) – and a deep breath of ocean air – when you’re on this memorable path! 

Keep an eye out for…

No. 1

Expansive views of the of the East Basin

Notice the Striped Mullet leaping out of the water

No. 2

The I-5 bridge

where you’ll find a paved bike and pedestrian path

Woman walking through sandstone walled slot canyonWoman walking through sandstone walled slot canyon
No. 3

The beauty of natural erosion

as you adventure through the slot canyon

What to Expect

  1. Start your journey at the Via Poco trailhead at The San Elijo Activity Hub Park & Ride where you will come across a kiosk along with waste and recycling bins. Utilizing the crosswalk to the South of the Park & Ride, cross Manchester and head towards the suspension bridge.
  2. After you cross the bridge, take the path to the right and continue on your way down the hiking trail.
  3. Keep right when you come across a fork in the road, this winding path will take you to the Annie's Canyon trailhead.
  4. As you approach Annie’s Canyon Trail on the left, there are 2 options: (1) You can go through the canyon, which requires some strenuous activity, or (2) you can hike up the switchback portion. Note the switchback’s moderate incline (rising 300 feet in a quarter-mile).
  1. If you decide to go through the canyon, keep in mind that the path is one-way, so you must take the switchback path down. As you progress through the canyon, the path narrows. However, you can use available footholds – and ladder-like stairs – to maneuver to the top of the canyon.
  2. Whether you go through the canyon or up the switchbacks, the top of Annie’s Canyon Trail offers views of the Pacific Ocean and Central Basin.
  3. Once you’re ready for the return journey, turn right and follow the trail back to the trailhead.

On your hike, you might see . . .

Snowy Egret

These majestic birds are often spotted in the water hunting for their next meal. Their yellow feet set them apart from the Great Egret.

More info

cord grass along channel

California Cord Grass

Along either side of the suspension bridge, you will observe two large patches of cord grass that were planted as part of the San Elijo Lagoon Restoration Project.

More info

More to Explore

Rios East Trail

Rios East Trail 

Continue on the easy-going Rios Trail to get a closer look at the channels

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Rios West Trail to Nature Center

Rios West Trail to Nature Center 

Explore this newly opened trail and cross the Buhr + Martin nature bridges to visit the Nature Center. 

Learn More
Harbaugh Seaside Trails

Harbaugh Seaside Trails

Check out our newest open space with expansive marine views – ideal for dog walking, sunset watching, and peaceful contemplation in nature.

Learn More