Someone says hiking and you imagine special gripping shoes, fleece vests and those backpack’s that are designed to carry water but mostly we filled with wine and cola in college.
But in SoCal it doesn’t have to be like that. You can almost literally access some casual wilderness hiking in every neighborhood. Our neighborhoods are built around canyons filled with trails mostly for walking & hiking but some are even bike accessible. Looking at you Balboa Park.
Inside the San Diego city limits elevations range from sea level to 824″ atop Mount Soledad or 1,591″ at Cowles Mountain. Standing at the top of Kate Sessions Park Canyon in the SoCal Sessions HQ neighborhood you can see 270 degrees of SoCal. Pacific Ocean expanse forever on your right, the Bay, Point Loma and the buildings of downtown down the center and the hillside homes glinting in the sun on your left.
Walk down into the canyon and the city disappears. Except for the birds there isn’t much sound except a rustling here or there. You can escape. Without even leaving town you get that feeling of wonder & comfort that comes with the realization that we have all this wilderness to play in.
Can’t get out of town, but need some adventure? Looking to explore? Pull your car or bike over into a pullover and go for a hike. Get on google maps. Look for the green and zoom in, or check out SoCalHiker.net. It doesn’t have to be an all-day hike out of town to count as exploration, as an urban adventure. Tecolate Canyon, Black’s Beach from the Glider Port, Rose Canyon at San Clemente Park are all great places where you can make a hike as challenging as you want. Head north to San Elijo Lagoon. There is a freaking lagoon. Keep a Nalgene of water with you, an eye on the daylight & get out there.
Follow our Instagram @SoCalSessions to regularly see our mini-local adventures & exploration.
“The city lies on approximately 200 deep canyons and hills separating its mesas, creating small pockets of natural open space scattered throughout the city and giving it a hilly geography. Traditionally, San Diegans have built their homes and businesses on the mesas, while leaving the urban canyons relatively wild. “
Don’t forget to play safe. There are dangers. There is s difference between being adventurous and being dumb! Water, water, water. Those signs that warn of rattlesnake are their for a reason (though we haven’t seen one yet, knock on wood.) We are terrified of snakes, but that isn’t going to stop us from exploring. They are most active at night, and the canyons or parks are not generally lit. Cacti are beautiful, plentiful and sharp.
That’s enough warnings. The risks are worth it.
Three Tips for Urban Hiking
- If you bring it in, bring it out. Don’t leave trash behind. That would just make you an asshole. You’re not an asshole are you?
- Keep a pair of tennis shoes or hiking boots in your car or bike bag. You never know when the urge will hit. Or if you’re like us, just wear Chuck Taylor’s all the time, and you’ll be fine.
- Stick to the path until you can’t*. With all the rain we’ve had sinkholes are possible & let’s be honest, you don’t know what kind of critters or thorns are lurking off the path.
*Sometimes you need to go off path. We won’t hold it against you, but know that once you do you’re on your own. Good luck, and may God’s keep your course clear.