Balboa Park has something for everyone. There are museums, theaters, an archery range, and tennis courts. You can see puppet shows, play disc golf, race remote control cars, there’s even a velodrome! So it should be no surprise that there are a number of notable hiking and walking trails throughout the park.
Florida Canyon lies in the northeastern portion of the park near Morley Field. There’s a number of interconnecting trails throughout the area so you can explore the area and create your own route. We decided to explore the area on either side of Florida Drive, which runs through the middle of the canyon.
We parked just outside the off-leash dog area by the tennis courts. There’s a cool little Native Plant Demonstration garden by the parking lot, so we took a few minutes to explore and the set off for our hike.
The canyon is full of interconnecting trails, so you can fashion your route based on whatever happens to look interesting. We stayed straight, paralleling Florida Drive as the trail gradually descended to the floor of the canyon.
Near the bottom of the canyon we crossed a small wooden footbridge. To the right, a side trail led to the road, providing an opportunity to cross to the west side of the canyon. We continued straight as the trail climbed upwards.
The canyon was typical coastal sage scrub habitat, with lots of buckwheat, coast prickly pear cactus, broom baccharis, sage, and laurel sumac. As was to be expected in the middle of summer, many of the plants were looking a bit scraggly.
We made our way down a couple of long switchbacks to the road. Once across the street we found thicker and taller-growing brush. There was a dry stream bed running through the canyon and the habitat was more riparian than the other side had been.
The trail turned right and we found ourselves travelling north, heading back towards our starting point. Around 1.1 mile we noted a trail branching off on the left, heading up the hill towards the Park’s Desert Garden and Rose Garden. We continued straight.
In a short distance we encounter another junction with some stairs on the left. Like the eastern side of the canyon, this side had a lot of interconnecting trails you can explore and fashion your own route. We continued along the low road to the right.
Sadly though, we also spotted some evidence of homeless encampments in some of the other deep thickets of brush.
At the street we turned right, crossed Florida Drive, and headed up the hill back to the dog park where we’d started.
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From I-5 take the Pershing Drive exit. Follow Pershing Drive for approximately .5 a mile and turn left onto Florida Drive. Follow Florida Drive for approximately 1.2 miles to Morley Field Drive. Turn right onto Morley Field Drive. Take the first right to turn into the tennis center complex, then make another immediate right towards the Morley Field Dog Park and park in the lot. map
|Total Distance:||1.8 miles|
|Total Ascent:||243 feet|
|Dog Friendly?:||Leashed Dogs allowed|
|Bike Friendly?:||Bikes allowed|
|Facilities:||Bathrooms and water available near tennis courts|