Bayside Trail - Cabrillo National Monument

San Diego, California 92152

Bayside Trail - Cabrillo National Monument

Bayside Trail - Cabrillo National Monument Professional Review and Guide

"The Bayside Trail descends 300 feet down the cliffs on the east (bayside) slope of Point Loma. The 1.5-mile trail, an old U.S. Army roadway, winds down the hillside through chaparral and native sage scrub from high above San Diego Bay. From the cliffside perch are breathtaking vistas of the bay, including small sailboats, fishing boats, gigantic U.S. Navy ships, ocean liners maneuvering in and out of the harbor, as well as passenger planes and Navy jets flying in and out of the airports. The interpretive trail has panels about the area’s natural and cultural history. En route, the trail passes remnants of an abandoned military defense system with bunkers that protected the harbor in both World Wars. The hike begins near the 422-foot crest of the promontory by the historic lighthouse."

More Bayside Trail - Cabrillo National Monument Professional Reviews and Guides

"Cabrillo National Monument doesn’t have very many hikes, and this really isn’t much of a traditional hike either. The entire trip takes place on a paved road that descends for 1 mile along the San Diego Bay coastline. Eventually, it drops very close to the ocean and comes to a fence that separates the national monument from the adjoining military reservation and national cemetery. Despite the fact that there isn’t a “real” trail, an escape from civilization, or even seclusion, there is something quite magical about Cabrillo that gives this hike a classic appeal. The jutting edge of Point Loma sticks out so far and has been such a danger to mariners that not one but two lighthouses were built upon this spot."

"Cool coastal breezes and sweeping views of San Diego’s bay make the Bayside Trail a top choice for warm spring and summer days. Taking in the nearby historic lighthouse and museum lend a historical perspective to this hike."

"On September 28, 1542, Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo rounded Point Loma and became the first European to enter San Diego Bay. More than 300 years later, one of the first eight lighthouses on the Pacific Coast was installed at the crest of the 462-foot point. Both Cabrillo’s daring voyage and the Old Point Loma Lighthouse are honored by this national monument, which overlooks downtown San Diego and features 50-mile views on clear mornings. Bayside Trail takes full advantage of the views—it’s often hard to resist the urge to stop and stare. The barks of sea lions and the penetrating blast of the fog horn occasionally are punctuated by the howl of fighter jets taking off from nearby North Island Air Station."

"The most comprehensive Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay views you can get—short of flying."

"Coastal sage scrub and chaparral vegetation are highlighted along the Bayside Trail, but it’s more worth taking for the wonderful, unobstructed views of San Diego Bay, the Silver Strand, and San Diego’s flashy skyline. You’ll double your pleasure if you walk this trail on a crystal-clear day, typical of the period December through March. Note that you must be off the trail well before the time of Cabrillo National Monument’s closing, typically around dusk."

Bayside Trail - Cabrillo National Monument Reviews

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4/1/2006
One of the most scenic trails ever. My wife's bad knee did not give her any problems on this well maintained, gravelly trail. Exceptional distance views of San Diego Bay, downtown skyline, Coronado, Mexican mountains on the horizon, and a constant flow of boat traffic. A perfect way to spend half-a-day.
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Trail Information

San Diego
Nearby City
Kid-friendly
Accessibility
3
Distance
300 feet
Elevation Gain
Out-and-back
Trail Type
Moderate
Skill Level
1.5 hours
Duration
Year-round
Season
Cabrillo National Monument
Local Contacts
USGS Point Loma
Local Maps