Posts Tagged ‘Sunset Cliffs’

Hiking Sunset Cliffs, San Diego, CA

6 March 2011

Last week I had two opportunities to hike in San Diego. The first was Black Mountain, and the second was Sunset Cliffs. Sunset Cliffs was suggested by a friend from high school that I had not seen in about 30 years, and who lives in San Diego. We got there about 1620 last Thursday, and finished up about 1800. The total walk was 2.5 miles per the GPS (yes, I was nerd enough to carry it!).

I only took two photos, which I will post first and comment on later. I didn’t take too many pictures, as there was a lot of time spent talking; not a bad thing at all.

The Sunset Cliffs are on the west side of Point Loma, which is part of San Diego, CA. If I remember, we took Talbot up to CA 209, then Hill down to the beach. There are truly rugged cliffs right up against the ocean. There are numerous access points along the trail for people to go down to the beach, and we saw a lot of surfers.

The sinkhole was one of the first things we ran across. The state of California (I guess) fenced it off.

Sometimes the trail we followed would run down a ravine and abruptly end, usually 20-50 ft above the beach. You would have needed rope to get down, but there was usually no place you could tie the rope off to. The trail would also run out to numerous points that jutted out. Some looked like they were none to stable; be warned. There were a lot of places where you scramble up and down.

You can tell from the one photo above that the cliffs are abrupt and steep. It’s clear that the steep sides of Point Loma enhances runoff velocity, which accelerates erosion. There are fissures everywhere.

I was impressed by how rugged the terrain is. The rock is a mixture of igneous (not too much) and sedimentary; there is a lot of sandstone and shale.

You walk south until you run up against a fence that the Navy put up to separate their turf from the rest of the point. We walked closer to the beach until we got to the fence, then went up to a parking lot, and stayed more or less on road up high to get back.

Here are the topo, terrain, and altitude plots from the GPS.

This was a very pleasant way to spend a couple hours or so on the coast. The trail can be a bit slippery, and there can be some wind, but the scenery is beautiful. It was a bit chilly from the onshore wind, so a long-sleeve shirt or a sweatshirt might be needed.

As Nancy pointed out, there are few places in the San Diego area where you can feel that you are completely away from the bustle and noise of the city, but in reality, we were only five minutes from downtown. I plan on going back to spend time here, and walk some more on the beach below the cliffs. It was a beautiful walk, which is really the reason I do it, and the company was very nice also.