Trail Running

Penny Pines & Garnet Peak Conditions September 2013

Penny Pines & Garnet Peak Conditions September 2013

On July 5, 2013, I left work early, and headed up to Garnet Peak in the Cleveland National Forest to start my weekend with a short hike. It was a picture-perfect day with blue skies and since it was Friday afternoon, there was absolutely no one on the trail. The only downside on that day was the weather: it was hot and the wind that rushed out of the Anza-Borrego Desert felt like an open oven. I remember feeling some of the plants and they were dry . Everything was tinder dry - not good for July in San Diego, where fire season lasts until October, or even November in drought years. Since I couldn't make it rain for the plants, I did the only thing I could: appreciated the natural beauty around me. Although I didn't know it, I was probably the last hiker to hike that area before it burned (photos here). On July 6, 2013, what became known as the Chariot Fire started, and spread through that portion of the Cleveland National Forest due to those dry conditions and high winds. 

Crest Canyon to Torrey Pines State Beach Trail Run

Torrey Pines State Beach, the turnaround point for this run.

If you’re looking for a little more of a challenge then just walking Crest Canyon, you can either hike – or run through portions of two parks in a short amount of time. You’ll want to start at the San Dieguito entrance of Crest Canyon, as described in my last entry (, and head up the trail from there. If you’re planning on running the route, as I do, you’ll want to stretch and or warm up before you start jogging into Crest Canyon, as the trail slopes gently upward from the beginning.

The beginning of the run passes through Crest Canyon, and at the turnaround point of the loop, you’ll want to instead head up the steps to Durango, and proceed south for approximately three blocks. When you hit Del Mar Heights Boulevard, you’ll want to take a right hand turn, and jog directly West for one block before crossing (cross carefully, there are crazy drivers on the road sometimes) to the South side and heading South on Mar Scenic. Follow Mar Scenic for approximately four blocks until it dead ends at one of the north entrances of the Torrey Pines State Reserve Extension, where you will immediately see the main North-South trail of the Extension.

Continue running (or walking) through the extension, and the trail will drop you off at Del Mar Scenic Parkway. Follow Del Mar Scenic to the bottom of the hill, and you will be directly across from Torrey Pines State Reserve (North Beach) on Carmel Valley. From this point, cross the road, and you’ll be at the beach in a matter of minutes.

Main Trail, Torrey Pines State Reserve, Looking North

This run clocks in at 2.45 miles one way, from the base of Crest Canyon. I like this jog as it allows you to get in some good hill training from the beginning – Crest Canyon is a mild uphill stretch, and the trail through Torrey Pines Extension is a longer, slightly steeper grade. I also like this jog as you get to examine two portions of the San Diego coastal biome, in Crest Canyon and the Torrey Pines Extension that are very similar, and yet also very different. Finally, the run deposits you on the beach, which is a great spot to work on your breakaway speed, or enjoy the day.

Should you not wander up and down the beach like I do, this run (or walk) will be 4.9 miles roundtrip, and I’d recommend that you do it in the early morning, or at any time of day that suits your fancy.


See you on the trail!






For More Information about Crest Canyon and the Torrey Pines Extension, check here: