There are innumerable reasons to love Balboa Park, namely its museums, history, shops, restaurants and the open space. One cool aspect of the area that not everybody knows about is the Sixth & Upas Gateway. Located on the northwest side of the park, the gateway leads to five trails that are open to the public 365 days of the year.
The trails range in length from 1.5 miles to 6.6 miles, and vary in difficulty. Each trail route is well suited for walking or running and some are cruise-able by bike. Some have smooth sidewalk areas and some have steep natural walkways.
The trails dip down into wooded areas but are divided in the middle by State Route 163. So you get a limited feel of being out in nature, but you are never too far from the hum of Hyundais and Lexuses rumbling in and out of downtown.
Here are descriptions of the five trails:
1. The 1.5-mile trail with green markers goes along a tree-lined walkway and loops through the north end of the West Mesa area. There are level concrete walkways, and the difficulty level is easy.
2. A 4.1-mile orange-square-marked trail is the best way to see the Balboa Park cluster of museums and gardens. It is mostly level, with gradually sloping concrete walks and segments on roads. Difficulty level: Medium.
3. The 3.6-mile trail (diamond-shaped blue trail markers) offers varied scenery and trail surfaces with some shade, but mostly in sunny locations. It is two-thirds concrete walkways with the other third being sloping dirt trails, with some steep slopes. Difficulty level: Difficult.
4. A 5.4-mile trail, marked by purple squares, features major elevation changes and some portions that require running or walking against traffic on road shoulders. Difficulty level: Medium.
5. The 6.6-mile trail (diamond-shaped red markers) goes through not-often-seen natural areas of the park, including pine and oak-covered trails. The path breaks up fairly evenly into four types of walking areas—concrete, asphalt road, sloping dirt trails and steep dirt trails. Difficulty level: Difficult.
To get more details about these and other out-of-the-way spots in San Diego, go to hiddensandiego.net.