28 Best Trails to Hike, Bike, Run & Stroll in San Diego
A guide to San Diego's best places to hike, run, and get outside
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LOG IN A WORKOUT
Places to do specific training workouts, like speedwork, hill repeats, and tempo runs.
11. Silver Strand
5.5 miles ✹ EASY
Highway 75 in Coronado (the 5.5 miles is one way, from the Hotel Del to the end of the Cays).
This completely straight and flat path has mile markers along the way, making it perfect for speed intervals or tempo runs. In fact, you’ll need to be doing some kind of speedwork to break up the monotony. Of course, time it right and you’ll get to run with a pack of Navy SEALs.
12. Bankers Hill hills
0.5 mile ✹ MODERATE
Sixth Avenue between Elm and Laurel Streets, next to Balboa Park.
Really, any big hill is good for a hill workout, but this one prepares you specifically for the heartbreaker at the end of the America’s Finest City Half Marathon. This route doesn’t pass any intersections, so there’s nothing to break your stride, and it can be incorporated into a longer run in the park.
13. Point Loma Nazarene track
0.25 miles/lap ✹ EASY
Follow the Peppertree Lane loop to the southeast side of campus.
This is probably San Diego’s most accessible running track for those who don’t belong to a gym. UC San Diego, Balboa Stadium, and San Diego State also have tracks, as do some other high schools, but there you are more likely to run into scheduling conflicts or just be kicked off the track by intramural teams and campus events. (Tip: this Christian university prefers that you wear modest workout attire.)
14. Fiesta Island
4 miles ✹ EASY
Off East Mission Bay Drive in Mission Bay.
Totally flat and generally away from traffic and pedestrians, the Fiesta Island track is perfect for a solid tempo run. Although the island itself is fairly desolate, there are boats in the bay or dogs in the dog park to provide distraction if you need it. But if you’re doing a tempo run, you shouldn’t be distracted. So get in your groove and go.
ENJOY THE VIEW
The most spectacular vistas San Diego has to offer—guaranteed to take your mind off the hard work you’re putting in as you run.
15. Sunset Cliffs
6.1 miles ✹ MODERATE
Start at Ocean Beach Dog Beach, run toward the Ocean Beach Pier and weave your way along Pescadero Drive to the ocean. Run up Sunset Cliffs Boulevard to Sunset Cliffs Park and then make your way back.
Sunset Cliffs offer one of the best ocean views in San Diego. After reaching the coast, this path will take you high above the ocean, with rocky cliffs and breaking waves below. Most of the path is off the street, and once you reach Sunset Cliffs Park, there are plenty of dirt trails to wind along, extending your run if you wish.
16. Pacific Beach Boardwalk
6.1 miles ✹ EASY
Start at Ocean Boulevard and Loring Street and run along the ocean to the jetty and back. Or park at the jetty off Mission Boulevard and run the route in reverse.
This completely flat path stays away from traffic and takes you right along the beach and past Belmont Park. Get a close-up view of surfers, volleyball players, and beach bunnies, along with the crashing ocean waves. Parts of the path, especially around Belmont Park and Crystal Pier, can be overcrowded with tourists, so be prepared to people-dodge as you people-watch. If it’s too busy, you can always move your run to the beach.
17. Torrey Pines
2 miles ✹ DIFFICULT
Start in the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve lot on North Torrey Pines Road and walk the steep park road into the park. There you have multiple options for routes to trace, including the Guy Fleming Trail or the Razor Point Trail.
The trail up to Torrey Pines requires challenging climbs that will test both your bum and your heart rate, but if you make it, you will be rewarded with jaw-dropping views. All trails in the park come to the edges of sweeping cliffs that overlook the ocean and crashing surf below. If you time it right, you will see spectacular sunsets. It’s all completely worth the $10 parking fee. Edward Agunos, the head organizer of the San Diego Running Group, says these trails are his favorites, “hands down,” for a good view.
18. Ocean path in La Jolla
Out and back is 3.3 miles ✹ MODERATE
Start at the intersection of Coast Boulevard and Prospect Street and run along Coast Boulevard, around Ellen Browning Scripps Park and then follow the Coast Walk Trail past the La Jolla Caves.
This path takes you along the rocky shores of La Jolla, past sights like the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Children’s Pool. Absorb the gorgeous ocean views and watch swimmers, surfers, scuba divers, and seal-loving environmentalists—along with the seals themselves, for the time being—as you run. You can also extend your run to La Jolla Shores Park and through the Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus.
GET ON YOUR BIKE
Three favorite places for moseying pedal pushers and hardcore speedsters alike.
19. Bird Rock bike path
2 miles ✹ EASY
Between Nautilus and Turquoise Streets in La Jolla.
This path can transport a biker or runner from PB’s beach boardwalk to the shores of La Jolla. The bike path is frequented mostly by Bird Rock residents because it’s hard to find (from LJ, start near the fire station on Nautilus, north of Draper Avenue; it runs to Camino de la Costa just north of La Jolla Hermosa Avenue, and then continues along La Jolla Hermosa as part of the road). It’s perfect for a short run or ride, or for creating a longer route.
20. Lake Hodges
DISTANCES RANGE FROM 1 TO 20 MILES ✹ ALL LEVELS
San Dieguito River Park
This park recently won architecture awards both for its new headquarters and for its “stressed ribbon style” pedestrian bridge. Here’s your impetus to go check this place out if you haven’t already. There are endless options for trails and a whole range of distances, elevation changes, and single- or double-track trails.
21. Bayshore bikeway
24 miles ✹ VERY DIFFICULT
Down the Silver Strand and through downtown San Diego.
This circuit used to be called “The Bay Route,” but since that’s also the name of a popular college drinking game, it changed its name. Still, the long route and the challenges it provides remain the same. This path takes you pretty much around the entire perimeter of the San Diego Bay, from Coronado to Chula Vista to downtown. Bring $4.25 to ride the Coronado ferry, with your bike in tow, to close the loop.