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December 22, 2020

7 Bridges Hike - Urban Hiking San Diego

A search on Google for 7 Bridges San Diego will produce thousands of hits for this popular 5.5 mile loop in the Balboa Park vicinity.  Here's the map that all of them use: 

They are all missing at least one bridge, there can/should be 8, or even 9, bridges on this loop, without adding distance, but it will add an elevation change.

Fran and I will document the 8 bridges as a bike-n-hike in a 5.6 mile loop.

My Google map with the 8 Bridges is HERE.  Follow along, or plan your own loop.

Although this is a loop where we could start at any of the bridges, we will start at the Park Blvd Bridge at the Rose Garden as that is where most of the 7 bridge folks document the start.

1.  Park Blvd Bridge 

Park Blvd Bridge

Located behind the National History Museum the bridge joins the award winning Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden to Balboa Park’s Bea Evenson Fountain.

From the fountain continue west along El Prado.

2.  Cabrillo Bridge

Cabrillo Bridge

The Cabrillo Bridge is California’s first multi-arch bridge.  It was built in 1914 as preparation of the Panama-California Exposition to connect with downtown.  Spanning Cabrillo Canyon, which was a waterway when the bridge was built.

Continue west as El Prado becomes Laurel Street.

3First Avenue Bridge 

Continue on Laurel to 1st Ave and turn right to the only steel arch bridge in San Diego. 

First Ave Bridge

The First Ave Bridge spans Maple Canyon. 

Maple Canyon

From the right side of the bridge the next stop can be seen.

Quince Street Bridge

Continue north to Quince street.

4.  Quince Street Bridge

A right on Quince leads to the Quince Street Bridge that also spans Maple Canyon.  This bridge was built in 1904 to provide access to the 4th Street Trolley.

Quince Street Bridge

With stairs at each end this bridge is not ADA accessible.  But after crossing the bridge we will come back, so we do not have to carry our bikes up/down the stairs.

Fran and I use Maple Canyon and the Quince Street Bridge as an access to Balboa Park when events limit parking.

Return toward 1st Ave, but turn right on 2nd Ave and left on Spruce Street.

5.  Spruce Street Suspension Bridge

Spruce Street Suspension Bridge

It is a suspension bridge, and it does wiggle!

Enjoy a walk across the bridge as it sways with each step. 

The bridge spans Kate Sessions Canyon.  A stop at the center makes a great photo-op spot.

Kate sessions canyon

The bridge certainly is in need of some repairs.

At the far end of the bridge is a short/steep set of concrete stairs.  Definitely not ADA accessible and this time we do have to carry our bikes.

Once across, turn right on Brant Street and follow it as it becomes Upas Street, then Albatross and finally Walnut to return to 1st Ave.

NOTE:  Up to this point the 7 Bridge Hike is identical.  To avoid a really steep hill, follow the 7 bridge route by turning left at 1st Ave to University Ave, right on University to Vermont Street.

6.  Marston Bridge (optional)
OK I just made up that name, since it is located below the Marston House.  If you know the official name of this bridge please leave a note in comments.

Turn right on 1st Ave, then left on Upas St to return to Balboa Park at 6th and Upas.  The trail map here shows 3 trails that cross back over Cabrillo Canyon on this un-named bridge.

6th and Upas Trailmap

Hikers can take the dirt trail to the left after crossing the bridge (orange route).  It will lead to Vermont Street.  Follow it to University Ave.

Not wanting to bike the dirt track we continue straight up the paved steep slope to Richmond Street (blue route). 

We rode down the well maintained concrete path with its switchbacks to the 'Marston' Bridge.

'Marston' Bridge

I did mention that this is a short but steep hill.  We both had to walk part of it.

We rode north on Richmond to University Ave where we turned left to Vermont Street.

7.  Vermont Street Bridge

Vermont Street Bridge

My first apartment in San Diego was near this bridge.  Then it was a wooden trestle bridge, with peeling blue paint.

Rebuilt in 1995, it is the newest bridge on this tour.

Take some time crossing this bridge to read the words of inspiration along the way.  It would be at home in Solana Beach.

Continue straight after crossing the bridge to Lincoln Ave and turn right. 

8.  Georgia Street Historical Bridge 

Georgia Street Bridge

Lincoln Ave ends at Georgia Street where a right leads to this historic bridge.  Built in 1914 of concrete.  It connects the communities of Hillcrest and North Park over University Ave.  It was awarded Historic Landmark status in 1998. 

After crossing the bridge turn right down the hill to Park Blvd, a left on Park Blvd will lead back to the starting point.

Yes there are other bridges that could be included, such as the Palm Canyon footbridge north of the Oregon Pavilion.  Enjoy the walking/hiking trails of Balboa Park.

December 16, 2020

Secret Swing - Urban Hiking La Jolla

There’s two very easy short hikes here.  First let’s see if I can find the ‘secret swings’ of La Jolla.  This location is not so secret, just enter “La Jolla Secret Swing” into the Google Maps search bar.

The street parking at the top was reserved for students.  Rather than risk a ticket or purchase a guest permit, I chose to park at the Birch Aquarium visitor lot.  The aquarium remains Covid-closed and I was the only car there.

It’s a short steep climb up to the swing.  

Today there were two swings.  

In the past there have been 6 or more, or even no swings!  It looks like these will stay, as where the previous swings hung is now populated with reforestation signs.  

The large two person swing has been here in some form for quite awhile. 

Do the search #lajollasecretswings, as suggested on the swing to see some of its previous versions.

But I like the current one best:
”It’s the world’s job to come at you in waves.  It’s your job to learn to surf”.

The views from the swing are spectacular.  This would be a great place to watch the sunset and capture a Green Flash.


The upper trail is a bit longer, but level.  It's parking that can be an issue.

A short drive below the swings and a couple left turns is the entrance to Pottery Canyon.

The Rodriguez brothers founded La Jolla Canyon Clay Products here using a wood fired kiln to make roofing tiles and adobe brick for over 40 years.

The remains of the old kiln is on private property and no other remnants of that time remain.

The San Diego Reader mentions a trail to the top of the canyon with views of La Jolla and the ocean, but I did not find it.  The San Diego parks map does not show this trail at all.

I took the short easy trail, 


 but it ends quickly in a fallen eucalyptus log jam.

The small canyon is surrounded by expensive homes and steep hillsides.

Or private property along the entrance.


La Jolla rejected San Diego’s offer to revitalize the park.  Guess it will remain an unmaintained open space.  That just might be a good thing :)



December 06, 2020

Mt Laguna - Sunrise Highway

With new closures going into effect Sunday 12/6, San Diego County will shut down all county campgrounds and playgrounds, residents will be under Stay at Home orders through Christmas.  All state campgrounds in the county are again closing.  Indoor activities like dining, museums, visitor centers, etc. have been closed since March!

I decided to head to the local mountains again.  I last explored the Cuyamacas (California state), and decided to take on the Lagunas (National Forest).

Parking on the Sunrise Highway requires an Adventure Pass, or the America the Beautiful Card.  I just place the ‘geezer’ card on the dash when I park.

The views to the east are stunning, looking a bit like the Smokey Mountains.

Saw this sign on the Mt Laguna Store.

the Al Bahr Shrine Lodge and Campground was destroyed in 2013 by the Chariot Wildfire.  Fran and I stayed there shortly before the fire.

On the opposite side of S-1 is a new observation deck and rest area for the hikers where the Pacific Crest Trail meets the highway.

There’s parking on both sides of the street at the Penny Pines Trailhead.  This is a tribute to the children and organizations that collected pennies to help reforestation.  This short loop trail goes through the trees that were planted.

Adjacent is the trailhead to Garnet Peak.  

All of the trees that survived the fire carry heavy scars.

The trail has been recently maintained with the chaparral cut back, but the footing is a bit uneven.

Just a 100 yards in – Ka-Ching!  The view goes on the Chocolate Mountains in the distance with the Salton Sea in the foreground.

The trail continues to provide beautiful views over the Anza Borrego Desert.

There’s a couple guys ahead of me already at the top.

They’re easier to see when I zoom in.

I had planned to stop at the Pioneer Mail Picnic Site,  Alas, like the Desert View Picnic Site it is closed.  On the Google Maps it shows the Sunrise Scenic Byway on the half mile trail to Kwaaymii Point.  The Kwaaymii are closely related to the better known Kumeyaay.  

Highway S-1 was rerouted, apparently after the scenic designation.  Old road is now a wide trail.

The views from Kwaaymii Point are among the best, and this was a great day to enjoy them.

Just below the viewpoint on the Mail Trail are many memorials.  Although this is a popular spot for hang gliding, these are not memorials to them.  I offered this spot to dad as a place to release his ashes, he chose Font’s Point, which I agree worked out better.  I suspect the memorials are for those whose ashes were released here, or it was just a favorite spot.

The road into Julian was golden.  I call this color California Gold, after the PBS series of the same name.

Julian is not that big and it was pretty crowded.  The restaurants have taken over the sidewalks, as there is no indoor dining.  But cars are still parked on the street, forcing pedestrians to walk in the traffic lanes. 

Too many people without masks.  I went over to Julian Pie for a frozen Apple Mountain Berry.  No such luck. 

I was parked at the stairs to the Julian Pioneer Cemetery.  I went up the stairs to explore these memorials. 

The cemetery has been in continuous use since 1879.

Marshall South from Ghost Mountain has a new headstone. 

There is a cerca 1947 8mm movie on YouTube narrated by Rider South that shows a bit of what life was like.

The ruins of Yaquitepec, the South home, on Ghost Mountain are a popular destination above Blair Valley.

I left Julian without a pie, but expected to pick one up at their Pie shop in Santa Ysabel.  But the high winds had knocked out the power to the entire community.

Determined not to go home empty handed I called Edwards Vineyards … yes I do have their number on my phone :)  Beth  informed they were also without power and were not going to offer tastings.  That was OK I gave her my order, which included their 2014 Estate Syrah.  She said to come to the house rather than the closed tasting room.

I left Edwards with the Syrah, the winner of this year's family wine off and a spare, along with the petite sister.

Now it’s back to Covid lockdowns :(