Balboa Park Trail Improvement Projects


Land Manager: City of San Diego


Balboa Park is made up of more than 1,000 acres and offers museums, various gardens, arts and international culture associations, as well as the San Diego Zoo and even TRAILS. This urban park, just minutes away from downtown San Diego, is also renowned for its brilliant displays of seasonal flowers, shady groves of trees and meandering paths through rolling lawns and more rugged trails through the various canyons that cross the park. Balboa Park is managed and maintained by the Developed Regional Parks Division of the City of San Diego Park & Recreation Department.

Florida Canyon, adjacent to Morley Field (home of the San Diego Velodrome), is a popular multi-use trail area within Balboa Park. There are other connecting trails throughout the park which can provide interesting, urban trail adventures. The Florida Canyon trail system gets lots of use by a wide variety of user groups and as with any urban parks has challenging issues with homeless encampments, lack of connectivity and unsustainable trail alignments which are a factor of the area never having gone through a master trails plan.  Efforts for master trails plan have been talked about and studied over the years (the last major effort was in 2018-19) with work from San Diego Canyonlands and other community groups.  

SDMBA has had some trail work days in Florida Canyon over the past several years on both treadwork, clean ups and trimming.  These work days have been few and far between and some of the worst areas of trail erosion are more than a hand crew of volunteers can tackle. City staff for Balboa Park has a fairly high turnover rate historically and trails have not been on the top of the list given all the urban pressures on this developed park.  

In late 2022, announcements were made that there are new rangers and additional staff coming to Balboa Park. We are also seeing a stronger will at higher levels in the City of San Diego management to prioritize trails.  SDMBA has received some grant funding from the Athletic Brewing Company and the County of San Diego in 2022 and we are currently planning trail maintenance in Florida Canyon for 2023.   A significant amount of planning any work at Florida Canyon involved engaging and partnering with groups such as San Diego Canyonlands, Forever Balboa and other stakeholders as well as informing elected officials on why trails are important and require need investment and care.  

SDMBA and other advocates continue to push the City of San Diego to value the trails of Balboa Park as an amenity enjoyed by many people just like the museums, the rose garden or the organ pavilion.