Off the Beaten Path

I said to one of my friends the other day that I “thought” I knew San Diego County. I have lived here most of my life and love nothing better than getting in the car and going for some adventure. I love the beach, the city, the back country of the mountains and the desert. But since I began hiking, I realize I have known San Diego County only as far as the pavement goes, or through the car window. Now I am learning so much more about the back country and the city.

Penasquitos Canyon, which I wrote about recently, is wedged between two major interstate freeways and housing developments. I never knew it existed until last month. It is a peaceful sanctuary of oak trees, meadows and a wandering creek with a small waterfall.

Florida canyon

Florida canyon trail

Last week I re-discovered Balboa Park. San Diego has been enjoying Balboa Park since 1914. Close to downtown, we are proud of its beauty and diversity. It has more than the famous San Diego Zoo and multiple museums and attractions; it is a city park with hiking trails. These trails are easily followed. You can go on the park’s website and pick out a trail at your own level and enjoy getting off the beaten path.  This website can describe the trails much better than I, and their mission.

My friends and I walked the Florida Canyon trails.( Park Boulevard Trails Gateway) Late winter in San Diego with the weather in the 70’s is great for hiking. In a couple of weeks, there will be more spring blossoms, but this hike was more about discovering the trails. None of my hiking partners had been on these trails, and they are native San Diegans.

We started at the corner of Zoo Place and Park Blvd and in a few steps were heading down a steep hill on a rugged trail of chaparral and natural So. California plants. The trail afforded space away from traffic sounds, shady areas of solitude and sun-soaked hills for a good cardiac workout.

You can dip your toes in a tiny creek and walk on the river rocks . . .

or skip across  wooden bridges . . .

and plunge up steps to work the thighs.

You can stop to smell the roses–er, well, the wildflowers . . .

or just keep walking up the hills.

You can stop and sit on a bench and take a photo of the snow on the hills 40 miles away.

You can walk around the museums and take some side trips. This photo was taken off the beaten path behind the Museum of Photographic Arts.

There are lots of little canyons and trails between The Prado and the Organ Pavillion.

We continued walking around the park and ended up in the Botanical Gardens.

I plan on hiking these trails again and again and again: there is so much to enjoy and see in Balboa Park!  If anyone has any suggestions or experiences of hiking in their city, let me know. Off the beaten path, here I come!


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