11 Best Places to Run in San Diego (Top Trails, Tracks & Routes)
How to find the best places to run while traveling is a common question.
If you are heading to California and looking for awesome exploration opportunities, we have put together a list of the best places to run in San Diego.
Where Can I Go Running in San Diego? 11 Places Runners Love!
1. Mission Trails Regional Park: Mission Trails has over 30 miles of trails, and with that much territory to explore, there is something for everyone. If you are looking for a real climb, visit Cowles Mountain, located within the park and features the highest point in San Diego.
2. Torrey Pines: This run features exceptional views of the Pacific Ocean and is another area ranked as a favorite by locals. The 6 main trails range from very short (less than a half-mile) to 1.5 miles. Explore them all to get some mileage in.
3. Tecolote Canyon Trails: Tecolote Canyon National Park offers 6 different trails. This is another beautiful trail system with very diverse elevations and levels of difficulty. The 10 miles of trails are all scored either low or moderate difficulty.
4. Mission Beach: You can either run on the boardwalk or run on the sand if you are looking for some extra challenge. Mission Beach run is about 3 miles one way.
6. 5. Mission Bay: This route is approximately 12 miles of nice wide, running, or bike path. This is one highly recommended by the San Diego Running Company because there are plenty of restrooms and water stops along the way.
7. Harbor Island: All you need to do is get yourself to Harbor Island Drive, and you can run the approximately 3.3 miles around the island on this paved trail.
8. Balboa Park: This park has over 65 miles of trails. Located within this park are the San Diego Zoo and also many museums. If you want to map out your exploring, you can get more information here.
9. Sunset Cliffs: Perhaps the most beautiful place to run in San Francisco, this out and back run will net you an almost perfect 5K. Time your run, so you catch the sunset.
10. The Coaster: Looking for an interesting and different running adventure? Park your car at the Solana Beach Station and hop on the Coaster, a train. You can take the Coaster north then run back along the highway. Check out the description of this place to run, put together by Great Runs.
11. La Jolla Shores: Hoping to see some wildlife, including seals? This scenic run might be the perfect place to do so. At only 2.3 miles, it is a short jaunt, but it is certainly worth your time.
Embarcadero: Located right downtown along the Bay, this is an area that many traveling for business find themselves exploring. You can log close to 5 miles of pavement running if you decide to see these sights on foot.
Is San Diego Flat or Hilly?
San Diego is naturally hilly. Built in a series of canyons, you will notice it has many ups and downs if you explore the city. That is not to say you can’t find flat spaces in which to run.
But the million-dollar question is: why would you want to?
Remember that hilly terrain makes you a stronger runner. Don’t shy away from running hills just because it is challenging.
Where Can I Go Trail Running in San Diego?
Whenever I look for advice on the best trails to run in a city, my first reference is AllTrails.com. San Diego running trails are too beautiful to pass up, so be sure to check out the list put together by local runners.
The top 5 trails are:
- Fortuna Mountain Trail
- Los Penasquitos Canyon Trail
- Tecolote Canyon Trail
- Seven Bridge Walk
- Sunset Cliff’s Park
Within these options, you will find a variety of elevations, differing surfaces, and amazing hill and ocean views. The trails are also different distances to meet the needs of all runners.
Where Can I Run Track in San Diego?
It doesn’t matter if you are looking to hammer out repeats for a challenging track workout or if you prefer the soft surface and easy turns of the oval; you can find a free public running track in San Diego.
Public running tracks in San Diego include the following:
- Balboa Stadium
- Admiral Prout Field House
- Triton Track and Field Stadium
- Point Loma Nazarene University Track & Soccer Field
Also, you should remember that in many cities, you can find a local high school or junior high with a track open to the public. Just don’t go hopping any fences!
Where Can I Run at Night in San Diego?
The first point to note is that no matter where you are, use proper safety protocols:
- Wear high-visibility clothing
- If you are running in darkness, wear a headlamp and some safety vest
- Avoid wearing headphones so you can hear your surroundings
- Avoid the trails in the dark since, well, trails can be tricky.
As far as San Diego running routes for after dark, Balboa Park has paths that are well lit and paved, so that is a pretty safe bet.
Another option is Mission Bay. According to Yelp reviews, it is highly traveled by recreational runners, bikers, and skaters, and you are likely to feel safe there.
Where Can I Run in Downtown San Diego?
For anyone staying or visiting downtown and looking for someplace to run, there are a lot of options.
Embarcaredo is downtown, paved, and you can get a solid 5 miler in.
Another very popular place is Balboa Park. It is so popular that many local running groups frequently meet here.
One final recommendation is Mission Bay Park, described as a “jogger’s paradise.”
Where Can I Run Hills in San Diego?
Wondering where to run in San Diego if you have a hill workout on the schedule? No big shocker that a place called Hill Street would give you a great hill workout.
A second option is to run near Black’s Beach. Rumor has it that a lifeguard access road is just under a mile to go down and back up again.
It is gated to motorized traffic but open for walkers and runners.
What Are the Best Beaches to Run in San Diego?
As you probably noticed by the top 11 places to run, there are many beautiful beaches to enjoy in San Diego.
Ranking high on the list are:
- La Jolla, Ocean Beach
- Mission Beach
- Pacific Beach
- Coronado Beach
Just a word of warning, if you are not experienced running in sand, be careful. If there is a hard surface nearby, you may wish to run there.
Happy Running in San Diego
It does not matter if you are thinking of heading to San Diego on business or going there on an epic vacation; you do not have to lose track of your fitness goals.
As you can see, there are plenty of awesome places to run in San Diego!
*Check out our list of the best 2022 running events in California.
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