Running Trails San Diego

San Diego is a stunning area, with some wonderful running trails. It is a wide area, with some incredibly unique landscapes. For this reason, running trails and events are popular in San Diego. 

The weather in San Diego can be quite unpredictable, and the temperature may drop to below freezing at night during winter months. This means that you need to prepare for cold weather running.


You should wear layers of clothing so that your body heat will help keep you warm. A good pair of gloves are also essential. You can use an old pair of gloves or buy new ones.

If you have any medical conditions such as asthma, heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc., then it is important to consult your doctor before exercising outdoors.

Before we get running, let’s find out more about the trails!

Mission Bay

Mission Bay

Mission Bay is a large body of water that is located in California. It is surrounded by many cities such as La Jolla, Coronado, and Imperial Beach. There are many types of wildlife that inhabit this bay including birds, fish, reptiles, mammals, amphibians, and insects. 

Just a couple of minutes away from downtown San Diego is Mission Bay Park, which is the biggest park of this kind in the world. The park has four thousand acres of water, surrounded by twenty seven miles of winding shoreline, with a number of waterways, inlets, and islands to explore. 

The San Diego County Regional Park System has a 12-mile loop through Mission Bay, which is almost entirely on well-marked off road paths. It has incredible views, beaches, bridges, parks, and even an island. 

To get there from Sea World, take the park shuttle bus (or drive) to Quivira Road. Then turn right onto Quivira Road and follow the signs to the park entrance.

Follow W. Mission Bay Dr. to Bonita Cove. Start at the Bayside Walk and follow it around Crown Point, then turn right onto Crown Point Rd. (You may want to check out the map here.) 

There’s an intersection on Pacific Beach Drive. After you see this intersection, run onto the path at De Anza park, and keep running for three miles.

These three miles will take you through Mission Bay Park, Playa Pacifica, and South Shores Park. Use the South Shores Parkway to cross over to Sea World Drive, and you can run along these roads to get to Quivira. 

This is a beautiful run, with lots of sights to see. 

Balboa Park

Balboa Park

This park features many things to do, including hiking and biking. There are also plenty of places to run around. You have over 65 miles worth of trails, gardens, and beautiful sights. You can create your own route here, however, we love this one.

This trail is absolutely beautiful, with some amazing sights and scenery. You can run on the more developed trails, as well as the more unkempt trails. There is a whole map of this area due to the vast size. 

You will need to study the map to know where you are going, but the routes along these trails are marked with color coded signs.

These signs tell you how difficult the trail is to run, as well as how long it is. From the five gates within Balboa Park, there are 19 trails. This is more than enough to make your daily run interesting. 

Some of the best parts of this trail is number 2, which takes you around and through the beautiful botanical gardens as well as the museums.

This trail is more than long enough for a daily run, coming at just over four miles. This trail also takes you through Florida Canyon’s Plant Preserve. 

San Diego River Trail


San Diego, California is a city located in southern California. It’s bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, Coronado Island to the north, La Jolla to the east, and Oceanside to the south.

This city is famous for its beaches, parks, and outdoor activities. You may also be interested in visiting other places nearby such as Balboa Park, Old Town, Point Loma, Downtown, East Village, North Park, South Park, or University City. 

One of the highlights of the city is this river trail, allowing you to see all the wonderful parts of the city. The river trail is a great option for those who want a secluded and flat trail in the Mission Bay Area, which probably happens to most people.

The path is consistent and acceptable for running in most weather, and it does tend to disappear slightly on the North Bank of the river. 

There’s an ideal seven-mile section that runs from Ocean Beach to Mission Valley East, with some flat and paved areas. You may run on the road at points during this trail, but very rarely. There are also beautiful areas near Ocean Beach that you will not find anywhere else. 

The San Diego River Trail is a great place for runners to go when they’re looking for something different. For instance, if you’re looking for a longer run, this trail has sections that stretch up to eight miles.

If you like to run outside, this trail is perfect for you. And if you’re looking for something more scenic, this trail gives you a chance to enjoy nature. 

If you’re looking for a good time, this trail is perfect. However, if you’re looking to get some exercise, then you should look elsewhere. This trail is not suitable for beginners or children. It is recommended that you wear comfortable shoes and bring water. 

Cabrillo National Monument Area

Cabrillo National Monument Area

There are many trails you can take around here, including the Bay Trail. You can enjoy the view of the ocean, as well as the city skyline.

The National monument is dedicated to the founder of California, and there are some amazing views of the waterside, as well as the downtown and harbor area. 

With this trail, there is a specific 2-mile Bayside trail that is paved as well as dirt tracked. It is a gradual gradient downwards, but it is a spectacular trail.

You can run off the trail roadside in these areas to see the Ecological Preserve. To do this, run along Gatchell Road, paralleling Cabrillo Road. 

If you’re pretty experienced, you can even run from the monument to sunset cliffs, for an iconic view. 

Sunset Cliffs and Ocean Beach


Running along lesser-known Sunset Cliff Drive between Ladera and Ada streets is a great way to admire the beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean. You can watch daring surfers riding the waves at one of the most challenging surfing spots in San Diego.

Add on another mile or two heading north along Sunset Cliff Boulevard into Ocean Beach where you’ll see a colorful 1960s-style beach culture.

This running trail is truly unique, with some wonderful and unique views. With this run, you will have to expect running uphill and downhill, so bear this in mind. 

Make sure to check out the Ocean Beach Pier, which is the second-longest pier on this coast. Before returning to Sunset Cliff Drive, make sure to take a stroll down Sunset Cliff Boulevard to enjoy the stunning scenery.

Final Thoughts

There are some excellent running trails in San Diego. It depends on your preference and what kind of experience you’re looking for. Some people prefer the urban feel of Downtown San Diego, while others love the natural beauty of the bay.

Whatever your preference, there are plenty of options available to you. Whether you want to explore the city or simply enjoy the outdoors, there’s a trail for you!

Megan Rinzel
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