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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.


  1. That's a lot of Bridges. I'll have to make a list so I don't forget.
    Derailers on bicycles never work when you need them to.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

    1. HA! Derailer worked worked fine, the hill was more than we bargained for. But thanks for the excuse, wish I'd thought of it!

  2. This looks like lots of fun. We were supposed to be in Mission Bay for two weeks in Jan but canceled with all the regulations and the virus. Maybe next year. Meanwhile I'll save this post. Thanks!

    1. Most all of Socal will remain under stay-at-home through Christmas. With all the fun things to do in Balboa Park closed, there were very few people to contend with.
      San Diego will miss you this year. Stay Safe, wherever your travels take you!

  3. My is San Diego beautiful. I would love living there. The city goes the extra mile to provide healthy activities for its citizens. Thanks for the bike tour, Jeff.

    1. I can get pretty upset with some of the city's decision ... but location-wise it's hard to beat San Diego!, with lots of outdoor activities year-round.

  4. Your timing is spot on! We were just discussing heading down that way (near Balboa) next week to wander around a bit. I saw that suspension bridge on the map and it looked like fun, but I think we'll steer clear of any bridge with yellow caution tape on it. :)

    1. We didn't see the Caution Tape until we were about halfway across, one of the suspension cables had broken loose at the base. It still felt safe, but it does wiggle.
      Not many people in the park with museums and zoo still closed. Enjoy your walk while still staying safe.


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