Jerry Schad Memorial Trail (Balboa Park)


Balboa Park has miles of trails and walking paths with something for everyone. A number of predefined routes have been established and labeled with numbered, color-coded trail markers to help visitors explore the many sights the park has to offer. Trail #43, marked with purple square trail markers, explores the western edge of the park. The trail travels primarily across paved sidewalks, passing a number of Balboa Park’s huge array of public facilities and showcasing a diverse array of plant life that can be found in Balboa Park. It is also home to an abundance of camera-ready squirrels.

This particular trail was dedicated as the Jerry Schad Memorial Trail in honor of the original author of Afoot And Afield: San Diego. In addition to authoring San Diego’s hiking bible, Schad was an important contributor to the Balboa Park Trail Committee.

The trail officially begins at the Marston Point Gateway on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Elm Street.

From the street corner, we headed up the stairs, travelling east. We spotted a squirrel frolicking along the base of a tree.

Once up the first flight of stairs, we continued east, cutting across the lawn towards the road.

We turned north, following the road and sidewalk past the Fire Alarm Building.

We walked along the road for a short way until we found a trail marker pointing us to a paved path on the right.

The path led us under some trees, where we spotted another squirrel.

We passed the Pine Grove Picnic Area on our left, and around .44 miles found a “Y” junction where the Juniper Staircase led downhill to the right.

It looked like an interesting spot to explore on another day, but today we stayed to the left. Before long we had some nice views of the Old Globe Theater and California Tower to the east.

Then, passing by another stand of trees, we spotted yet another photogenic squirrel.

Around .6 miles we passed Nate’s Point off-leash dog park on our right.

Just ahead was the road, running across the Cabrillo Bridge.

On the other side of the bridge, and a little to the right, we found the continuation of the trail.

On our left were the Lawn Bowling Greens.

Then we passed the Redwood Circle on our right, a large lawn area surrounded by trees.

We also found another squirrel.

At just under 1 mile we came to another “Y” junction, and following the trail marker stayed left. This brought us past Cypress Point, another large grassy picnic area with a plethora of trees to the side.

We soon crossed Quince Drive and picked up the trail on the other side. Just beyond we found the start of the “Five Flavors Walk” – a short interpretive side trail showcasing some edible and medicinal plants.

Continuing on, the path stayed fairly close to the road.

Around 1.35 miles we followed the trail markers as the path bent to the left.

The path led us to the corner of Sixth and Upas, where we turned south and crossed the road to start making our way back to our starting point.

Once across the street we took the path on the left which led through the middle of the grassy park.

While this stretch of trail was much more typical of an urban park, with playgrounds and benches, we were happy to find plenty of trees.

We also enjoyed some more great views of the California Tower.

Around 2.1 miles, just after crossing Laurel St/El Prado we found a statue of Kate Sessions, the “Mother of Balboa Park.”

Around 2.4 miles we came to another “Y” junction. Following the trail markers, we took the right fork leading down hill towards Sixth Avenue.

Once at the road we turned left and followed the sidewalk a short distance back to our starting point at the Marston Point Gateway.


View the full photo gallery

Directions:
Northbound: From I-5 North take the 6th Avenue exit, then turn right onto 6th Avenue. After approximately .5 mile, turn right onto El Prado, then right onto Balboa Drive. Follow Balboa Drive for approximately .4 miles to the Marston Point parking lot on your right, just before Balboa Drive makes a 180 degree bend. Park in the Marston Point Lot, and go down the stairs at the south end of the lot to reach the Marston Point Gateway at the corner of 6th and Elm.

Southbound: Take I-5 South to 163 North. Take the Qunice St/Balboa Park exit. Continue on Quince Street for approximately .4 miles, then turn left onto Balboa Drive. Follow Babloa Drive for approximately .8 miles to the Marston Point parking lot on your right, just before Balboa Drive makes a 180 degree bend. Park in the Marston Point Lot, and go down the stairs at the south end of the lot to reach the Marston Point Gateway at the corner of 6th and Elm.

map

Total Distance: 2.6 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Total Ascent: 187 feet
Dog Friendly?: Leashed dogs allowed
Bike Friendly?: Bikes allowed
Facilities: Bathrooms and water located throughout park
Fees/Permits: None

For more information, visit:
Trail Map
View route or download GPX from CalTopo

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