San Clemente Canyon lies just south of Highway 52, between Interstates 5 and 805. Highway 52 was originally planned to run through the canyon, but thanks to the efforts of Marian Bear, a community leader and environmentalist, 52 was rerouted to its currently location and the canyon was preserved. The area is now known as Marian R. Bear Memorial Park, and preserves a beautiful riparian habitat.
The Regents Road staging area lies in the middle of the canyon, with parking lots on either side of Regents Road, and the trail runs in either direction from here. Heading west, you can actually connect to the Rose Canyon trail for a multi-canyon adventure. There’s also another mid-canyon staging area on Genesee Avenue. For our trip, we decided to hike east from Regents Road to the end of the park near the 805 freeway, since this would allow us the longest distance out and back hike.
We’d gotten a pretty early start, and were consequently rewarded with some wildlife sightings. A short way from the trailhead, we encountered several small rabbits foraging along the edge of the trail.
To the right was a steep slope along the edge of a mesa, with houses perched on top. To the left was a thick band of riparian vegetation surrounding a creek. Beyond the creek ran Highway 52, which meant we had a pretty constant hum of traffic competing with the more appealing sound of birds singing.
At .38 miles we came to a “Y” junction. You can go either way here, but the left fork led down to the creek which we knew was pretty full due to recent rains, so we opted for the right fork along the foot of the mesa.
At .63 mile we encountered another unmarked “Y” junction. Once again, either route would get us where we wanted to go but we decided to take the left fork to avoid some unnecessary elevation gain and loss.
In another .1 mile or so we met up again with the wider path we had split off from earlier. We were very close to the highway here, and could actually see the road through the wall of Sycamore trees that lined the creek. We turned right along the wider path, continuing east.
We followed the wide dirt path as it passed under the overpass and turned right. The trail descended to another creek crossing. There were enough dry rocks on the outer edge of the crossing that we were able to keep our toes dry.
Of course, the one drawback to riparian habitats such as this is the prolific growth of Poison Oak. While we’d been encountering patches of it all throughout the canyon, it was increasingly prevalent as we continued.
At 1.5 miles, we found another side trail branching off to the left, this one marked “Cobb Trail” as it led to Cobb Drive. We continued straight along the main trail.
Around 2.3 miles we saw the 805 freeway ahead of us. We noted a narrow, overgrown trail that led left, down towards the creek, and another path that led right up towards another residential area. But we were pretty much at the boundary of the park at this point, and decided to call this our turnaround point.
We retraced our route back the way we had come.
From Highway 52, take the Regents Road exit. Head south on Regents Road a short distance to the entrance to Marian Bear Memorial Park on your right. Follow the driveway under Regents Road to park in the eastern parking lot. map
|Total Distance:||4.6 miles|
|Total Ascent:||223 feet|
|Dog Friendly?:||Leashed dogs allowed|
|Bike Friendly?:||Bikes allowed|
|Facilities:||Bathroom and drinking fountain at trailhead|
For more information, visit:
City of San Diego Parks and Recreation – Marian Bear Memorial Park
View route or download GPX in CalTopo