Urban Hiking in San Diego

Santee, CA

One of the interesting things about the city of San Diego is the canyons that run through the eastern portion of the city, right through neighborhoods.  Fellow full-time RVers Hans and Lisa, who are also staying in Santee Lakes, lived in San Diego until moving into their RV a few months ago and have done extensive exploratory hikes in the area.  They kindly  offered to take us on one of their hikes though town, so this morning we picked them up and headed into the city.  After parking on a residential street, we crossed a bridge over a freeway, cut across a portion of Balboa Park, then through a neighborhood.  We then re-entered a wooded area and crossed another canyon on the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge.

John enters the bridge while Lisa looks on

Four good-looking hikers!

On the other side of the bridge we entered a neat, older neighborhood called Banker’s Hill.  At one time many of the city’s banker lived here but, of course, they now have moved to larger houses in communities along the coast.  But the residents still keep the homes in beautiful condition.  They even recognize important historical events, as demonstrated by the plaque on one home shown below.

Around the corner we found an old post used to tie up horses.  Someone took the opportunity to tie Pam to the post, but she is a quick learner and was able to free herself before we got very far away.

We continued through Banker’s Hill, then into a canyon and under the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge which we had crossed earlier in our journey.

The trail in the canyon was pretty flat and moved through a variety of trees and plants.  It’s interesting that you are in a canyon that seems rather isolated, but just over the top of the canyon is the city of San Diego.

At the end of the canyon, we entered a road lined with houses built into the sides.  The picture below shows a log cabin on the side of the canyon.

We left the canyon and continued into the main section of Balboa Park by way of  El Prado, a long, wide promenade and boulevard that runs through the park’s center.

The bridge we crossed in the picture above is the Cabrillo Bridge, built in 1915 as the main entrance for the Panama Exposition, which celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal.  The bridge crosses what was originally an empty canyon that is now the 163 freeway into downtown San Diego.  It provides a great view of the skyline of the city and airplanes about to land at nearby Lindbergh Field.

After crossing the bridge and going under an archway, you enter the California Quadrangle.  The Quadrangle includes the California Building and Tower on the north side, and Evernham Hall and the St. Francis Chapel on the south side. Between them is an open space linked by arcaded passageways and massive arched gateways to form the Plaza de California.

The California Building and Tower viewed from the entry arch

The California Building and Tower viewed from the quadrangle

A Dr. Seuss Christmas Tree on the quadrangle
Oh, The places they go ! ! !

This area of the park is filled with a variety of museums and gardens.

A nearby canyon is being converted into a Japanese Friendship Garden.

Airliners provide great scenes throughout this area of the park.

Below is a picture of the Botanical Building.  This view of the Botanical Building with the Lily Pond in the foreground is one of the most photographed scenes in Balboa Park.  Built for the 1915-16 Exposition, along with the adjacent Lily Pond, the historic building is one of the largest lath structures in the world. The Botanical Building plantings include more than 2,100 permanent plants.

As we headed through the park, we spied this group of school students eating lunch.  It turns out they were third graders from a local elementary school.  Since Pam spent about two hundred years teaching that grade, a few minutes were spent speaking with their teacher. The behavior of the students was excellent, an indication that she is a very good teacher.

As we left that area of the park we came upon this huge tree.

The tree is a Moreton Bay Fig and is native to East Australia.  It was planted prior to the 1915 Exposition.  The tree is over 80 feet high and the trunk is 42 feet around.  The canopy is 145 feet wide.

As we approached the entrance to the famous San Diego Zoo, we came upon the strange trees pictured below.

They are called Elephant Foot Palms.  Despite the name, they are not closely related to true palms.  The Elephant Foot Palm is an evergreen perennial growing to over 6 feet,  with a noticeable expanded trunk used to storing water.

We continued past the entrance to the zoo and returned to the Jeep.  All that hiking makes one very hungry, so we drove a short distance to the neighborhood of North Park where we enjoyed a great lunch at Ranchos Cocina.  Then it was back to Santee Lakes to give Lisa and Hans time to prepare for a move.  Tomorrow they make a short trip to a park in nearby Mission Beach for a month’s stay.  We plan to see them again in about a month when we are both in the Tucson area.

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3 Responses to Urban Hiking in San Diego

  1. Deb Dominick says:

    Those suspension bridges look a little too scary! San Diego looks beautiful. The influence of the Spanish makes the architecture so much more interesting than what we usually see around here.

  2. Lisa says:

    Great description of a great hike! Can’t wait till we can explore more in Tucson! For some reason the 2nd and 3rd pics above did not open up for me. See you guys in a month!

    Lisa (and Hans)

  3. Marsha says:

    There is no way you would get me on that bridge. I would have to take the long way around. Now, that I see the bridge from the bottom…NO WAY JOSE!

    Good looking is an understatement. Words like adventurous, bold, brave, courageous, reckless are much better words to describe this motley crew.

    HAHAHA…love the sign.

    Pam, quit horsing around.

    El Prado is beautiful. That entire area is awesome. The gardens are lovely. The Dr. Seuss Christmas tree is pretty cool.

    Forget the hike. You could drop me off at the Botanical Building and pick me up after you are done. I would LOVE that building. The Palm trees are fantastic.

    Love the photo of the airplane over the city.

    IF you get a chance, do visit the Zoo. I loved it. Carrie was there this summer and couldn’t believe how big it was. She had a fabulous time.

    Looks like another wonderful day for you two. Merry Christmas.

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