One of the best things about San Diego is that there are pockets of wilderness interspersed in urban settings. If you live in North County, one of the calmest stretches of trail is in Crest Canyon. Located off of San Dieguito Road to the North, and Durango Road to the South, Crest Canyon is part of the San Dieguito River Park. The Canyon is a great area to get away from work during lunch hour, or to walk through either before or after work to clear your head. From San Dieguito Road, the trail heads slightly uphill for .75 miles before heading up a slight sandstone grade to Durango Road, which then intersects with Del Mar Heights Road.
Should you not wish to head up to Durango, you can loop back around on the parallel portion of the Crest Canyon trail back to the trailhead at San Dieguito. Depending on when you go, you may be lucky enough to see wildlife in this corridor – coyotes, skunks, and raccoons, but since Crest Canyon is close to Del Mar, you are more likely to see joggers, walkers, and other people looking for quiet time. In the spring (when it rains) the canyon fills up with California wildflowers, and some invasive species.
Crest Canyon is also a great place for volunteer opportunities. Many local organizations work on the trail for service projects, and there is currently a burgeoning garden of native plants (with labels) for the novice outdoorsperson. The Canyon is dog friendly, and is also a great place to view the native Torrey Pine, which only grows in the Del Mar Region and the Channel Islands. If you’re looking for a bit of a challenge, you can park at San Dieguito, and jog up Crest Canyon before heading up to Durango, across Del Mar Heights, and into the northern portion of Torrey Pines State Reserve before again heading downward to the Los Penasquitos Lagoon (more on this later). However, if you don’t want a challenge, Crest Canyon is a great place to collect your thoughts, or start experiencing your local wilderness.
See you on the trail!
For more information about Crest Canyon, check out the website of the San Dieguito River Conservancy: http://www.sdrp.org/archive/Trail%20Maps/Map_Crest%20Canyon%20Revised%20FINAL.pdf