This short and sweet trail is a popular route because of its scenery and the important off-street connection it provides between the Mission Bay and UC San Diego areas. Tucked between an active rail line and Interstate 5, it offers pleasant views of Rose Canyon's coastal sage- and chaparral-covered hills, and a car-free space to exercise and unwind.
A variety of plants and trees line the corridor, ranging from cattails and native grasses to eucalyptus, madrone and coastal live oak trees. The trail passes through a creek watershed near the 1-mile mark, where you are likely to see ducks and other waterfowl.
Trains are common along this rail-with-trail corridor, so you might see Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner passenger train on its 350-mile route serving communities on the Southern California coast between San Diego and San Luis Obispo.
As you near the trail's end, you climb steeply off the grade and up to the trail's intersection with Gilman and La Jolla Colony drives. You can turn around here, continue right (east) onto the bike lane on La Jolla Colony Drive, or bear left (west) and continue on Gilman Drive. Both on-street routes are popular with cyclists and provide connections to longer rides.
The trail's smooth surface is ideal for a variety of activities, including in-line skating and pushing a baby stroller. There are no amenities or restrooms on or near the trail.
If you're interested in getting more familiar with Rose Canyon, Friends of Rose Canyon hosts regular nature walks. Call (858) 597-0220 or visit www.rosecanyon.org for more information.
Parking and Trail Access
To reach the southern endpoint on Santa Fe Street from northbound Interstate 5 in San Diego, take the Balboa/Garnet avenues exit. Head left (west) on Garnet Avenue to Mission Bay Drive and turn right (north). Follow Mission Bay Drive to Damon Avenue and turn right (east) on Damon. Follow Damon Avenue for 0.3 mile to Santa Fe Street and turn left (north). Follow Santa Fe Street north to its end in a cul-de-sac, which has ample parking.
To reach the Santa Fe (southern) endpoint from southbound Interstate 5, take the Balboa/Garnet avenues exit. This puts you on Mission Bay Drive. Turn left (east) onto Damon Avenue, then follow the directions above to reach the trailhead.
To reach the northern endpoint from either northbound or southbound I-5, take the La Jolla colony exit. Go west on Gilman Drive for 0.1 mile to a left-hand turn into the park-and-ride lot, which is on the left (south) side of Gilman Drive. Park here and ride down to the trailhead.
Shortcut to Downtown
"Although suited for purposes other than bicycling, the primary function of this trail is to provide a relatively level shortcut for bikers traveling between downtown San Diego and points north. During my short visit I encountered over a dozen bikers ...