Oceanside Trail

The long-awaited trail from the Pt. Loma Lighthouse down to the tide pools finally opened.  This trail was constructed by crews from Joshua Tree National Park, the California Conservation Corps, and the San Diego Urban Corps. We drove out and parked near the western end of the parking lot and followed the trail beyond the Military History Exhibit toward the Lighthouse. Just past the Kelp Forest overlook, the trail began its 350-foot descent. We passed by one of the World War II observation posts, and the trail provided a sweeping view of the coast and the current lighthouse. A couple of benches were strategically placed, probably more for those making the steep climb back up. Soon we reached the end of this trail and the start of the Coastal Trail. We wandered along for a bit, before beginning our climb back up the point.

Just as we set off, a rattlesnake slithered off the trail. Our wives were not pleased. As we neared the top, a man was walking down the trail with his two dogs. I stopped to inform him that dogs are not allowed on the trail and he responded, “that is in dispute “. I responded, “no it is not, so feel free to enjoy a ticket from the Ranger. By the way, there is a rattlesnake near the trail.” He continued on down the trail, and when I glanced back, another hiker was also speaking to him. We then wandered over to the newly reopened Visitor Center for a bit before heading down to Shelter Island for a picnic. It is nice to be able to more fully explore Cabrillo National Monument on foot.


I am an avid peak bagger, sometimes backpacker, and former sea kayaker living in San Diego. In 2019, I became the third person to complete the San Diego 100 Peak Challenge. Not stopping with that accomplishment, I set my sights on the harder San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list, which I completed in 2021. In addition, I have conquered several Six-Pack of Peaks challenges (SoCal, San Diego, Central Coast, and Arizona-Winter). Beyond attempting the San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list a second time, I am looking forward to exploring new summits and new adventures across the southwest. 

Ruffin Canyon

We still had some gas in our legs after hiking Rice Canyon, so we opted to explore Ruffin Canyon in Serra Mesa. The trailhead was next to Taft Middle School and began by wandering through a small garden before passing by the school and then dropping into the canyon. Wooden stairs helped guide us down the canyonside. After ducking under some overgrowth, the trail kept working its way south.

Finally, we came to the canyon floor and the trail became very rocky. This was common along canyon floors, but usually, the trail would leave the stream bed. As we kept pushing on, no such luck. Checking the map, we knew we were almost at the trail’s end, so we kept trudging along. Finally, we reached the northern end of Portofino Apts. Neither one of us had any desire to walk back up the canyon through those rocks, so we opted to hail a Lyft to take us back to the car. I know my ankles thanked me.


I am an avid peak bagger, sometimes backpacker, and former sea kayaker living in San Diego. In 2019, I became the third person to complete the San Diego 100 Peak Challenge. Not stopping with that accomplishment, I set my sights on the harder San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list, which I completed in 2021. In addition, I have conquered several Six-Pack of Peaks challenges (SoCal, San Diego, Central Coast, and Arizona-Winter). Beyond attempting the San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list a second time, I am looking forward to exploring new summits and new adventures across the southwest. 

Rice Canyon

I decided to explore another one of our urban trails – this time Chula Vista’s Rice Canyon. Ted and I pulled into the parking lot for the Rice Canyon Demonstration Garden. The trail headed almost due west, and brown wooden posts capped with yellow let us know this section of the trail is a part of the California Riding and Hiking Trail. We cruised along the wide, well-groomed trail until we reached North Rancho Del Rey Parkway. The trail picked up on the other side and continued west until it ended at East H Street.

Then, we followed the road to the Snake Canyon trailhead. Unlike Rice Canyon, this trail is a single-track, and judging by how it’s been modified by mountain bikers, we kept an ear open for any that might be riding down. The trail finally popped out of the canyon near a fire station, and from there it was a short road walk back to the car. 

Tecolote Canyon North

I decided to explore Tecolote Canyon North today. While I had hiked Tecolote Canyon South a few weeks ago, roads and a golf course prevent you from easily hiking it end to end.  I found the trailhead at the south end of a field behind the North Clairemont Rec. Center and took the steep and rocky trail down into the canyon. Once there, the trail quickly became a lovely stroll under the canopy of oaks and other trees.

The stream flowed along the trail, fed by the recent rains. The trail mostly continued south, with the occasional runner passing me. I had one stream crossing that took some care, as the banks were a bit slick from the mud. Once safely across, I kept enjoying this trail’s scenery. Eventually, the trail ended at Balboa Ave. While you can walk along Balboa Ave, to Clairemont Blvd., then back again to explore, I choose to take the trail that led up to Mt. Etna Park.

After a short climb, the trail sidehills along Balboa Ave. for about ¼ mile before dropping into another side canyon. I cruised along this trail, crossing over a nice steel-framed bridge. Once at the park, I began to retrace my route. It was then I remembered we have our mobile mechanic coming to my house to work on the car that was parked at the trailhead. I picked up my pace, and thankfully made it home only a little late (I did text him of my forgetfulness).


I am an avid peak bagger, sometimes backpacker, and former sea kayaker living in San Diego. In 2019, I became the third person to complete the San Diego 100 Peak Challenge. Not stopping with that accomplishment, I set my sights on the harder San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list, which I completed in 2021. In addition, I have conquered several Six-Pack of Peaks challenges (SoCal, San Diego, Central Coast, and Arizona-Winter). Beyond attempting the San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list a second time, I am looking forward to exploring new summits and new adventures across the southwest. 

Knott Grove Trail

I parked at the Canyonside Community Park near the first ball field, grabbed my gear, and set off. Crossing over Black Mountain Road, I passed over Penasquitos Creek, flowing nicely after a recent rain storm. I turned into the driveway to the Canyonside Equestrian Center to connect with the trail. It was undergoing some maintenance, so I followed the road to the Ranger Station to access the trail there. The trail follows the north side of Mercy Road until the road bends away. Even being close to the road, I hardly heard any traffic noise. After crossing a service road that runs north, the trail became narrower and the surrounding brush became thicker. A marker also indicated that this section was known as the Bill Witzell Trail.

Bill Witzell was a founding member of the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve Volunteer Patrol. Using his extensive knowledge as an engineer to design and install most of the bridges that cross Peñasquitos Creek. In addition, he was involved in the layout, design and construction of the Trans-County Trail east of Black Mountain Road.

Gina Washington, Senior Park Ranger – Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve

Several bridges crossed the creek as I continued eastward. Soon the noise from I-15 started to fill the air. The trail passed under the freeway, and then under a smaller abandoned bridge, ending at Cara Way. Just down that road to the north is the Crime Victim’s Memorial Oak Garden (originally known as the Cara Knott Memorial Oak Garden, in memory of the 1986 murder of twenty-year-old Cara Knott). I decided not to visit the garden this time, so I retraced my route. Along the way, a ranger was working on removing some of the invasive mustard from along the trail. We chatted briefly before I thanked her for the effort she was putting into pulling those plants out. This was a nice little hike that was a delightful surprise.


I am an avid peak bagger, sometimes backpacker, and former sea kayaker living in San Diego. In 2019, I became the third person to complete the San Diego 100 Peak Challenge. Not stopping with that accomplishment, I set my sights on the harder San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list, which I completed in 2021. In addition, I have conquered several Six-Pack of Peaks challenges (SoCal, San Diego, Central Coast, and Arizona-Winter). Beyond attempting the San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list a second time, I am looking forward to exploring new summits and new adventures across the southwest. 

Presidio Park Loop

I felt like exploring Presidio Park a bit more, so I convinced the wife and daughter to tag along (the dog needed no convincing to go on a walk). Being a Sunday, we knew parking might be an issue, so we used the lot at the CalTrans building. We wandered through the newly opened Iipay Tipai Kumeyaay Mut Niihepok (Land of the First People) area, before heading toward the Junípero Serra Museum. We used the trailhead at Mason and Jackson to formally start the loop. Once at the Junípero Serra Museum, we followed a trail that went around the north side of it. We looped around the building and headed south for a bit. While we could see the park, we made a hairpin turn and worked our way down a ravine toward Taylor Street. There we climbed back up the other side through Palm Canyon. From there we looped around to the west and emerged at the park. We walked over to the southern entrance to the park, and before taking the trail back down toward Old Town, I strolled over to look at the Mormon Battalion statue. Once back in Old Town, we found an ice cream shop and enjoyed another wonderful outing.


I am an avid peak bagger, sometimes backpacker, and former sea kayaker living in San Diego. In 2019, I became the third person to complete the San Diego 100 Peak Challenge. Not stopping with that accomplishment, I set my sights on the harder San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list, which I completed in 2021. In addition, I have conquered several Six-Pack of Peaks challenges (SoCal, San Diego, Central Coast, and Arizona-Winter). Beyond attempting the San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list a second time, I am looking forward to exploring new summits and new adventures across the southwest. 

Juniper Canyon

When I reached my car after hiking Switzer Canyon, it was about 11:30, and Grand Ole BBQ didn’t open until noon. I decided to explore Juniper Canyon which was just a few minutes away. The trail headed south, past some lovely wildflowers and along the dry creek bed. Signs pointed out the distance to the various other trailheads. I opted to continue onto the furthest trailhead. Once I reached it, followed another fork of the canyon back to the northeast. The trail was mostly river rock and eventually came to an end at a fence. I retraced my route back to the car, then made the short drive for some well-earned BBQ.


I am an avid peak bagger, sometimes backpacker, and former sea kayaker living in San Diego. In 2019, I became the third person to complete the San Diego 100 Peak Challenge. Not stopping with that accomplishment, I set my sights on the harder San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list, which I completed in 2021. In addition, I have conquered several Six-Pack of Peaks challenges (SoCal, San Diego, Central Coast, and Arizona-Winter). Beyond attempting the San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list a second time, I am looking forward to exploring new summits and new adventures across the southwest. 

Switzer Canyon

Since the rains were holding off, I decided to squeeze in another hike after the Bridle Loop Trail. I drove through Balboa Park to the eastern side and parked near the trailhead for Switzer Canyon. I dropped down into the canyon and headed east. The trail was a mix of dirt and river rock. After a short while the trail came to an end at a drainage tunnel. While some might stoop to walk through it, I am only a couple of weeks out from cervical fusion, so I passed. Instead, I took a use trail up to 30th Street and used surface streets to one of the trailheads for western Switzer Canyon. 

I dropped down to the canyon floor, passing a couple enjoying their coffee while walking their dog. I passed the tunnel before continuing further up the canyon. At the junction, I took the right fork which eventually led me onto Redwood Street, right near a good friend’s house, so I stopped my tracker and popped in for a short visit. After saying goodbye to him and his wife, I turned the tracker back on and continued heading west. I turned south on 31st and found another entrance to the canyon. The trail followed the creek bed for a bit, right along some homes, before reconnecting at the earlier junction. I left the canyon via the Burlingame trailhead and began my street hike back to the car.


I am an avid peak bagger, sometimes backpacker, and former sea kayaker living in San Diego. In 2019, I became the third person to complete the San Diego 100 Peak Challenge. Not stopping with that accomplishment, I set my sights on the harder San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list, which I completed in 2021. In addition, I have conquered several Six-Pack of Peaks challenges (SoCal, San Diego, Central Coast, and Arizona-Winter). Beyond attempting the San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list a second time, I am looking forward to exploring new summits and new adventures across the southwest. 

Bridle Loop Trail

If you have ever driven south on Hwy. 163 through Balboa Park, you’ve probably noticed some trails on the west side of the highway. Well, it turns out that trail is part of the Bridle Loop Trail, so I decided to make this my next hike. Starting from the southwest corner of Balboa Park, I headed north along the sidewalk until I reached the Juniper Stairs (thanks to the California Conservation Corps), which took me down to the trail that runs along Hwy. 163. The trail finally stopped paralleling the freeway and climbed back up near the Marston House. I cruised along the sidewalk, past the playground, and the bocce ball courts, and soon I was back at the car. Apart from the noise near Hwy. 163, this was a nice loop.


I am an avid peak bagger, sometimes backpacker, and former sea kayaker living in San Diego. In 2019, I became the third person to complete the San Diego 100 Peak Challenge. Not stopping with that accomplishment, I set my sights on the harder San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list, which I completed in 2021. In addition, I have conquered several Six-Pack of Peaks challenges (SoCal, San Diego, Central Coast, and Arizona-Winter). Beyond attempting the San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list a second time, I am looking forward to exploring new summits and new adventures across the southwest. 

Otay River Valley Trail

Only a couple of cars were in the parking lot when I pulled in just after 8 am. The forecast was calling for a slightly warmer day, and I knew I was not going to have a lot of shade along the trail, so an earlier start was in order. I grabbed my gear and crossed the road at the light. The wide dirt trail runs along the river valley and it soon passed one of the several ponds that line the valley floor. Along the way, bilingual interpretive signs lined the trailside.

The wildflowers were still blooming as I continued eastward. After passing the second pond, a wooden boardwalk weaved across a small section of marsh. A few others were also out enjoying the trail, but for the most part, I enjoyed the solitude and sounds of the occasional bird. This area is a major locale for bird watching, and I certainly spotted several unique ones during my hike.

At a grove of eucalyptus trees, I reached my turn-around point and had a short break. I crossed over the flowing Otay River to make this route more of a “lollipop” hike rather than a simple out-and-back. I continued west along the north side of the river valley for a bit, passing a very large white church, and my route had me crossing the river once again. Soon I neared the Ranger station. Without stopping at my car, I continued west toward yet another pond. I followed the trail part way around it, enjoying the views. While the trail continued westward, my knee wasn’t up for the additional distance.


I am an avid peak bagger, sometimes backpacker, and former sea kayaker living in San Diego. In 2019, I became the third person to complete the San Diego 100 Peak Challenge. Not stopping with that accomplishment, I set my sights on the harder San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list, which I completed in 2021. In addition, I have conquered several Six-Pack of Peaks challenges (SoCal, San Diego, Central Coast, and Arizona-Winter). Beyond attempting the San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list a second time, I am looking forward to exploring new summits and new adventures across the southwest.