arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up play-button plus tab-indicator dots close menu search facebook google-plus instagram pinterest rss twitter youtube rss-two heart Check FeaturedBadge linkedin minus apps placeholder linkedin

Running in San Diego

Ideal for a solitary jog along the shore, or a leisurely run with a friend through a canopy of mountain oaks, here are a few favorite San Diego running trails. 

San Diego is to world-famous runners what Hollywood is to movie stars. Locals are accustomed to seeing the fastest males and females in the world pop in at the local 5k, just for a workout. Or, more famously, watch them tear through the streets of Solana Beach and Del Mar during the legendary Tuesday Morning Run, a 14-mile routine that began as a two-man affair between triathletes Mark Allen and Greg Welch.

San Diego is also ideal for a solitary jog along the shore, or a leisurely run with a friend through a canopy of mountain oaks. Few places have more running territory than San Diego. Most towns in America might offer a single great bike path or regional park, but every city in San Diego County has a network of runner-friendly domains.

For instance, runners in Rancho Santa Fe like to meet at San Dieguito Park, then head out onto the 30 miles of wood chip covered trails. In Coronado, runners like to start at the legendary Hotel del Coronado, then amble down the sand to watch Navy SEAL commandos suffer through a typical dawn to dusk to dawn training cycle. This is where the SEALS go without sleep throughout their infamous Hell Week. And in Solana Beach, the place to run is the San Elijo Lagoon, just north of town and a quick jog across Pacific Coast Highway from the beachfront parking lot. It's 3.5 miles from San Elijo to San Dieguito Park, meaning you can continue on into Rancho Santa Fe or turn back for a nice seven-miler.

And don't be surprised, no matter where you run, to see plenty of athletes along the way. San Diego is that rare region where athletes make up a good portion of the populace.

A Few Favorite San Diego Running Trails

Balboa Park: Located in downtown San Diego, this mammoth public space is home to the San Diego Zoo and the finish area for the America's Finest City Half Marathon (which starts, appropriately enough for the city's defining running event, at the Cabrillo Monument on Point Loma). The park features 1,200 acres of grass, three miles of paved footpaths, and 4.5 miles of dirt trails, all shaded by pine and eucalyptus trees.

Mission Trails: Located in La Mesa, this rugged offering offers more than 30 miles of running, all within the confines of a 5,800-acre regional park. Of special note is 1,591-foot Cowles Mountain, the highest point in San Diego (the city, not the county - that honor belongs to Mount Palomar, home of the world famous Palomar Observatory).

Black's Beach: For an offbeat running adventure, start at La Jolla Shores and run along the beach to Torrey Pines State Park. Not only are the beachfront cliffs inspiring, but many will say the same of Black's Beach, the well-known nude sunbather's playground halfway along the route.

Torrey Pines State Park: The 8 miles of looping dirt trails skirting the coast are stunning for their scenery. But don't gawk too long: the narrow paths wind over and around oceanfront cliffs. Of special note are the Torrey pines growing along those cliffs, which are found there and only one other place on earth.

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve: Located at 1966 Olivenhain Road in Encinitas, this 800-acre park features 17 miles of dirt trails. The trails interweave, so you can run short or long, depending upon your mood, and still stay close to where you parked your car.

Los Penasquitos Canyon: This forest preserve is a popular haven for runners and bikers alike. Located in Mira Mesa, just 12 miles north of downtown San Diego, this combination of narrow single track and fire roads can offer from 5 to 20 miles of quality running. Look for the waterfall 3 miles inland from the trailhead, and watch out for the mountain bikers on the fire roads.

The Stores

Befitting an area with such a large running community, the running stores around the county are top notch, designed to meet the needs of runners of all levels. Movin Shoes offers a wide assortment of shoes, and prides itself on knowledgeable staffers with a passion for running. The Movin Shoes Running Club offers a group run every day of the week, with themes ranging from adventure runs to a social midweek run then dine.

Road Runner Sports, the world’s largest running and walking store, offers a wide array of running-related products, along with a free run analysis to help you find the right shoes and a crack sales team.

Find more here on sports & recreation activities in San Diego!

Find a place to stay

Book online or call 1-800-350-6205 to speak with a local expert

Related Articles and Features

Parks & Gardens

Tours through Balboa Park

Led by knowledgeable volunteers and park rangers

Experience Balboa Park like never before. Knowledgeable volunteers and rangers will entertain and educate as they guide you through trails, flora and architecture of this historic and beautiful park.

Tours & Sightseeing

Historic Highway 101

Rediscover the Spirit of Southern California

Linking a string of charming beach communities from Oceanside to La Jolla, Historic Highway 101 hugs the Pacific Ocean as it provides a connection to the simpler, quieter lifestyle of the past.


Shopping Experiences for the Fashionistas...

VIP Services, Mobile Shopping and Shopping Tours
Action Sports

The San Diego Skate Scene

Local guide to skateboarding and skate parks

Today skateboarding is as popular as ever, and even though its reputation of recklessness and rebellion remains, San Diegans have come to accept skateboarding as an irrepressible rite of youth.


Deals just for you


Save $136 or more at 4 Famous Theme Parks

Southern California CityPASS
Valid: Jan 1 - ongoing

Save $136 or more with Southern California CityPASS - an admission card that gives you 1-day admission to SeaWorld San Diego and LEGOLAND California, PLUS a 3-day Park Hopper® ticket to Disneyland® Park and Disney California Adventure® Park.

Childcare Services

Kid's Equipment Free from Toddler's Travels

Toddler's Travels
Valid: Oct 1 - Oct 31, 2016

Reserve one deluxe item (crib, wooden toddler bed, Britax Pavilion car seat or City Mini GT/BOB Revolution Stroller) with Toddler's Travels and add any non-premium item of equal or lesser value from the website for free.


SeaWorld® All-Day Dining Package

Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa
Valid: Feb 5 - ongoing

Explore the wonders of marine life at SeaWorld® San Diego, just minutes from Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa. Enjoy over $90 in savings on your two night stay when you book our SeaWorld All-Day Dining Package.

Events to check out


San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Dec 11 - Dec 18, 2016

The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is a time-honored holiday tradition with more than 80 boats lavishly decorated sailing by the shores for all to see.


Poway's Christmas in the Park

Dec 10, 2016

Poway's Christmas in the Park is a unique way to bring holiday delights to your family this holiday season with the magic of an old-fashioned tradition.


2016 SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off

Dec 4, 2016

The festive and fiery SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off, promises everything a person could want in a fun day including craft beer, wine, shopping music and chili!

Stay in touch

Sign up to receive the latest news, events, and updates about San Diego. Our monthly and weekly newsletters will keep you informed about the latest and greatest happenings in the destination.

Sign Up

Visitor planning guide

For the ultimate guide to planning your San Diego vacation, view and download the San Diego Visitor Planning Guide, packed with useful information that will help you plan the perfect San Diego getaway.






Follow Us


English | Change Language

Select your country or region

China Deutschland Great Britain Japan Mexico Korea USA

Or use Google Translate

Afrikaans Albanian Arabic Belarusian Bulgarian Catalan Croatian Czech Danish Deutsch Estonian Filipino Finnish Francais Galician Greek Haitian-Creole Hebrew Hindi Hungarian Icelandic Indonesian Irish Italian Japanese Korean Latvian Lithuanian Macedonian Malay Maltese Nederlands Norwegian Persian Polish Portuguese Romanian Russian Serbian Slovak Slovenian Swahili Swedish Telugu Thai Turkish Ukranian Vietnamese Welsh Yiddish