Popular La Jolla Walking Areas

Popular La Jolla Walking Areas

Today, walking is America's favorite form of exercise. And coastal San Diego, with its cliffs and panoramic ocean views, is definitely a walker's paradise. Despite our city's rapid growth, San Diego has beautiful, little-known quiet spots perfect for a hike, a power walk or even a picnic.

The rules of the walking game are simple: be prepared! Always wear comfortable, cushioned walking shoes. It's a good idea to bring a visor, sunscreen and a small water bottle, which you can purchase at a local pharmacy or local surf shop. The temperature can change dramatically depending on where you are or the time of day, so dress in layers. Whether you are a speed walker or a stroller, you can enjoy these seaside treks any time of the year.

La Jolla Coast Walk

The Walk: Northwest along Coast Walk in La Jolla. Distance: One-half mile. Time: 30 minutes.

Directions: Take I-5 to La Jolla Village Drive west, turn left on Torrey Pines Road. Head down the hill and turn right at Coast Walk, a small street between La Jolla Shores and Prospect Street. This beautiful Cliffside walk is difficult to find the first time, but it's worth it. You may want to start from wherever you can find parking on Coast Boulevard. Walking between the villas and the deep blue sea, you'll pass benches along the way so you can sit and admire the view. Just keep following the trail along the cliff's edge to the grove of Torrey pines above the Sunny Jim Cave, where bootleggers reportedly stashed their liquor during Prohibition. There are spectacular views of the ocean, La Jolla Shores, and the bluffs of Torrey Pines and the North Coast. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the power plant in Carlsbad. There are a few parking spaces near the Ecological Preserve signs and about one-tenth of a mile farther in, but these are often taken. Parking at the southern end is even more difficult.

Mission Bay Park Walk

Distance: 5 miles round trip. Time: 1.5 to 2 hours.

Directions: Take I-5 to Sea World Drive. Go west to East Mission Bay Drive. Turn right at the parking lot. Covering 4,600 acres of land and water, Mission Bay is said to be the largest aquatic park in the world. There are grassy picnic areas, playgrounds, sandy beaches, boat launch facilities, and restrooms all around the bay, as well as resort hotels, marinas, a large private campground, and, of course, Sea World. Mission Bay is a popular destination for tourists and residents alike, especially on weekends and during the summer.

A leisurely walk along East Mission Bay to De Anza Cove on wide sidewalks starts at the Visitor Information Center and passes broad grassy areas, playgrounds, joggers, the Hilton Hotel and a number of small beaches. On weekends, kite enthusiasts gather at Tecolote Shores, filling the air with colorful fish, birds, and dragons. Windsurfers like to launch their multi-colored sailboards near the Information Center, and everybody likes to picnic on this side of the bay. If you prefer, you can walk north to south. Park at De Anza Cove, and walk toward man-made Fiesta Island, where the annual Over-The-Line Tournament, a wild and crazy kind of three-person softball games, is held in July.

Torrey Pines State Reserve Walk

The Walk: High Point Trail. Distance: 7/10 of a mile round trip. Time: 15 minutes.

Directions: Take I-5 to the Carmel Valley Road exit and go west to the light at Torrey Pines Road. Turn left, cross Penasquitos Lagoon, and look for the entrance road a half mile to your right. Drive uphill and park near the Visitor's Lodge.

According to the visitor's guide, Torrey Pines State Reserve is a majestic wilderness island amidst an increasingly urban area. It includes about 2,000 acres of spectacular cliffs, canyons, mesas, beaches, and wetlands spread out over three locations. The 1,000-acre main reserve has over 3,000 Torrey Pines, a rare variety found in only one other location: on Santa Rosa Island, off the coast of Santa Barbara. As the name High Point Trail implies, this is the highest point in the reserve with a commanding view eastward across the lagoon to distant Black Mountain, and westward to La Jolla and the ocean. Rangers call this the "100-yard walk," and the climb up to the High Point bench isn't much more than that; the walk along the road from the lodge to the trailhead is longer. Across the trailhead is a large Torrey pine with an odd, dense clump of needles that looks like a huge nest. Actually, it's an abnormality called witch's broom. There are several more examples within the reserve, but this is the most noticeable.

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