Crest Canyon

20150822_DSC5039-EditCrest CanyonOriginally planned to be part of the Torrey Pines Preserve, Crest Canyon is a small open space park nestled among the residential developments of Del Mar. The canyon is now part of the San Dieguito River Park, and offers a beautiful showcase of coastal sage scrub, chaparral, and some magnificent and rare Torrey Pine trees.

There appeared to be several access points along Durango Drive, but since we wanted to ensure we had as long a hike as possible, and because we wanted to document every single inch of the trail for you, Dear Reader, we made it a point to begin at the corner of Del Mar Heights Road and Durango Drive, where the trail officially began.

We found the typical sage scrub and chaparral mix that pervades San Diego’s coastal canyons, and loose, sandy soil along the trail. There were a handful of use trails meandering in different directions, but we just stuck to a generally northward heading.20150823DSC_2709Crest Canyon

We were on top of the canyon’s rim at this point, and as we walked we began to see down into the canyon on our left. We spotted several enormous Torrey Pine trees down in the canyon, and smaller specimen as well.20150822_DSC5015Crest Canyon

We also had some great views of the eroded rims of the canyon walls.20150822_DSC5016Crest Canyon

At .2 miles there was a fenced-in overlook area where one could see down into the overgrown, southern portion of the canyon below.20150822_DSC5020Crest Canyon
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The trail continued along the canyon rim for a bit before converging with the road. At .38 miles we came to what appeared to be the main trailhead for access to the canyon at the intersection of Durango Drive and Lozana Road.20150822_DSC5034Crest Canyon

From here, we followed the path to the left and quickly came upon a series of stairs leading down into the canyon.20150822_DSC5042-EditCrest Canyon

At the bottom of the stairs, the loop portion of the trail began. We decided to go clockwise and turned left.20150823DSC_2735Crest Canyon

After only a couple hundred feet, we spotted a gorgeous coyote padding along the trail towards us. Upon noticing us, he quietly stepped off the trail, pausing momentarily to check us out and allow me to snap a couple of quick pictures before he disappeared into the brush.20150823DSC_2737-EditCrest Canyon

We continued down the wide dirt path. Thick brush carpeted the floor of the canyon while enormous Torrey Pines stuck from both the bottom of the canyon and the steep sloping canyon walls around us.20150822_DSC5052-EditCrest Canyon

The trail was mostly well packed dirt, but periodic stretches of soft sand slowed us down a bit. We were travelling down a very gradual slope.20150823DSC_2752Crest Canyon

Around .85 miles, we noticed a quiet, paved road emerge on the left. A number of quiet houses were tucked in among the trees on the other side of the street. Straight ahead we could see the still, blue water of San Dieguito Lagoon.20150823DSC_2753Crest Canyon

We continued down the hill until we came to a roadway around the 1.2 mile mark. The trail continued around to the right, looping back towards our starting point. The road here was Racetrack View Drive, and there was a kiosk and trail head providing another access point and possible starting point for hiking the canyon. Across the road was a small viewpoint of the south side of San Dieguito Lagoon.20150823DSC_2762Crest Canyon

We continued along the trail as it looped around to the right. The trail here was much more narrow and rugged than the previous section had been, although it was still pretty easy as far as trails go.20150822_DSC5080-EditCrest Canyon

We climbed back up the gradual slope through the brush and pines. Although this canyon was really a very small pocket of open space in a heavily developed area, it was surprisingly peaceful here.20150822_DSC5089-EditCrest Canyon

Finally, at approximately 2.6 miles we reconnected to the beginning of the loop, and headed up the stairs. We walked along the road back to our car.

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From I-5, take the Del Mar Heights Road exit. Go west on Del Mar Heights Road and turn right onto Durango Drive. Park on the street along Durango Drive – the starting point of the trail is at the corner of Del Mar Heights Road and Durango Drive. map

Total Distance: 2.2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Total Ascent: 316 feet
Dog Friendly?: Leashed dogs allowed
Bike Friendly?: Bikes not allowed
Facilities: None
Fees/Permits: None

For more information, visit:
San Dieguito River Park – Crest Canyon

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