Annies Slot Canyon
Next time you drive down the 5 Freeway to the San Diego area, consider taking a break and explore Annie's Slot Canyon in Encinitas.
The Annie's Slot Canyon Loop is only about a quarter mile long half of which is in a steep lime stone gully rising about 150 ft to an overlook and just wide enough in a few places to squeeze through.
The loop path sign has you going counter-clockwise because the slot is only wide enough for one person, but you may encounter someone who did not read the no dogs or Do Not Enter sign at the top. There are a few spots where if one of you backs up, you can find a place to pass. However, near the top of the slot, there are 3 sets of sturdy metal ladders to climb up one at a time.
The lookout at the top has a great view of Elijo Lagoon, Del Mar Race Track and the beach. The trail back down is a well maintained wide switchback dirt path back to the loop junction.
There are 4 different trail heads you can park at to run/hike to Annie's Canyon on dirt trails for about a mile or two. We chose the flattest and easiest which starts at the San Elijo Activity hub Park & Ride lot - 2550 Via Poco, Cardiff, CA 92007 - about 100 yards North of the Manchester Av. offramp on the 5. Our roundtrip hike was 2.3 miles and took1.5 hours with a lot of stops for photos. We started at 1pm on a Sunday and it was not overly crowded.
From the parking lot we crossed at the Via Poco traffic signal to the lagoon side of Manchester Av. and the bike path. This took us to the foot bridge under the 5 Freeway. Signage is good and plenty of people to ask directions if need be. Turn right at the far end of the foot bridge and follow the bike path around to parallel the Freeway going toward Lomas Santa Fe Dr. About 400 ft along the path when you come out from under the Freeway, there is a fork to the right - take it. At the next trail junction almost 300 yards down, we took a right and followed this dirt trail baring right past the next junction, then left to the next junction and left up the Annie's Canyon Loop trail.
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