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3 Urban Hikes to Check Out in San Diego

Hot girl walks are a thing of the past—this is the latest trend hitting social media feeds, and we have the routes to get you started
Balboa Park, San Diego

Hot girl walks were on trend for awhile, but as all TikTok trends seem to do, they’ve faded away, only to be replaced by something new: urban hikes. Now, people are finding 10- to 15-mile treks to do in their cities, more as an exploratory expedition than as a quest to tone their glutes. Creator @servedbysara has been a pioneer in the trend, bringing her audience along as she makes her way through Seattle.

What exactly is an urban hike? It’s basically a trek through your city, but with a fancy name and a sightseeing goal (e.g., to see famous landmarks) instead of a step count. No need to drive to a far-flung trail or mountain. Just lace up your sneakers and head out to your nearest urban landmark.

While some practitioners like to aimlessly wander, I think it’s better to have a destination in mind and a route planned out. My ideal is to walk some streets that connect to one of San Diego’s many canyon trails to explore further. If you’re down to try an urban hike, here are three you should check out:

Urban Hike: Balboa Park Trails

This urban park is a vast network of trails for you to explore. If you live anywhere in the neighboring areas, you can start out by walking on streets and sidewalks until you get to the park. Then join up with the nearest trail. Some good options to try include the Florida Canyon Trail, the Bridle Trail, or the Morley Field Trail. If you hike Florida Canyon, you’ll feel a bit like you’re out in nature, not in the middle of an urban park, with wide views of the less developed parts of the park. 

Bridle Trail goes right along the 163 and has some steep hills to climb, but also feels like a secret pathway through the heart of the park. Morley Field is flatter and an easier trek, and will take you past sights like the velodrome, dog park, and fields. This map has the details, and you can also consult maps along trails in the park.

Urban Hike: Mission Gorge Trails

Tucked away behind the Del Cerro neighborhood is a great network of trails for you to explore—a serene, still-wild space not far from a developed neighborhood. You’re surrounded by native plants and can hear the birds all around you. These trails are mostly flat, but you’ll have to tackle steep climbs to get into and out of the canyon. Some parts are also a little rough and rocky, so it might be better to throw on your hiking shoes instead of normal sneakers, though both would be fine. 

If you do the entire stretch of trails, it’s about three miles, plus whatever you walked to get there. Get to Margerum Avenue or Conestoga Court however you can and then hike the trail that connects the two. If you want to keep going past Margerum Avenue, there are other trails that lead you up into the Del Cerro neighborhood. This map has the details.

Urban Hike: San Diego Bayfront Walk

If you are looking for ocean views and breezes in your San Diego hike, try walking the waterfront. You can go all the way from the Convention Center, through Seaport Village, past the county waterfront park and even past the airport to Shelter Island. The full walk is six miles one-way, so if you go out and back you’ll rival those urban hike TikTok influencers. There will be nice, cool air all along the way; plenty of people watching opportunities; and chances to stop and get a snack. Try Carnitas Snack Shack along the harbor or Ketch Grill and Taps once you make it to Shelter Island.

By Claire Trageser

Claire Trageser has been writing for San Diego Magazine for 10 years. She also is a reporter at KPBS and writes for The New York Times, National Geographic, Marie Claire, Elle and Runner's World.

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