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December 03, 2017

Crest Canyon - Urban Hiking San Diego

Crest Canyon is most commonly accessed from Del Mar Heights Road and Durango where there is ample street parking.  I’ve read that the lower end of Crest Canyon has been connected to the San Dieguito River trail system, and it makes more sense to hike this canyon from bottom to top.
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Fran and I hiked the San Dieguito River trail shortly after it was opened in 2016.  The spur that connects to Crest Canyon follows the south side of the river to the Old Grand Avenue Bridge.  Then ends!  The last 100 yards to the Crest Canyon entrance are along the road.  However the trail does pick up again just past the Canyon entrance, which I'll pick up on the return.

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Like the rest of the old Del Mar Airport the bridge was slated for demolition as part of the wetlands restoration.  The airport has been immortalized in Bing Crosby’s ‘Where the Surf Meets the Turf’: ‘ Take a plane, take a train, take a car …’.  Back in the day the Hollywood elite could fly round trip from beautiful downtown Burbank for $16.

What’s left of the old bridge now still extends into the river making for an overlook to view the water fowl.  Where I watched this egret enjoy his fresh breakfast, before returning for seconds.
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From the end of the bridge;
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a young heron couple were picking out materials for the new home.  As he stands guard I captured her reflection in the water.
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There’s nobody parked at the lower entrance to Crest Canyon.  The canyon is narrow with two parallel trails that form a loop.  The canyon is noted for its massive Torrey Pine trees, and once was slated to be part of the Torrey Pines State Park extension.
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The western trail is soft sand climbing steady.  This makes for a bit of a workout, but there are side slots to explore and still a few flowers to enjoy.

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The stairs at the top of the canyon lead up to the main entrance on Durango road with the trail continuing on to Dell Mar Heights.  The stairs make for easy work scaling the sandstone bluffs.
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The wild cucumbers dry with their seeds inside, until bang, it explodes sending a shower of seeds to be carried by the wind.
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Views from along the trail this foggy morning were not as good as they could be, but the fog did keep the temperatures cool.
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After returning to the lower trail head, I continued up the road to the new extension of the trail.  Not much here on this short trail but this lovely sunflower to share.  However perhaps this is the connection that I had read about.
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The loop within the canyon is listed as 2.2 miles ~350 elevation.  I managed to add 0.8 miles of easy walking to that by using the new spur of the River Trail and continuing at the top to Del Mar Heights.  This is a popular trail where there were perhaps a dozen cars parked at the top, none at the bottom.

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