Black Mountain Open Space Park


Land Manager: City of San Diego


In early 2010 a task force was formed to update the Black Mountain Open Space Park master plan.  Working with the community and trail users,  then SDMBA president Rod Simmons and Senior Ranger Ed Christensen walked the surrounding hills to find optimal routes to take advantage of the terrain. The process would involve multiple agencies and a great amount of review.  It took nearly five years for the master plan update to be completed in 2014.  It included proposals for nearly ten miles of trails, acquisition of private land, and several new trail heads to accommodate the ever growing user base.

  • 2014:  The first new trail construction began with the start of the Lilac Canyon trail.  It would connect the Glider Port parking lot with the Miner’s Ridge trailhead parking lot.  

  • 2015: the Awhee Trail linking the Lilac Canyon to the Black Mountain Open Space Ball Fields was built.  The event was supported by 120 volunteers and the 7/8th mile trail was completed in one day.  These two trails removed all trail users from the nearby Carmel Valley Road, greatly increasing safety and the user experience.  In May of 2015, City Council Member Mark Kersey, Black Mountain Ranger Staff, City Open Space Representatives, and Trail Leads Rod Simmons and Matt Bartelt, hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony officially opening the trail segments to public use.  Both trails received high praise for their design and functionality.  For the first time, users could circumnavigate Black Mountain without ever leaving a trail.  

  • 2016-17: The following fall/winter of 2016 the trails on the East Ridge of Black Mountain were started.  Utilizing American Conservation Experience (A.C.E), the corridors were cleared in anticipation of a large trail build season. Starting in December and meeting every Saturday until early April, 2016, over 250 different volunteers representing all facets of the trail user community hiked with tools to the trail build site.   By the end of the build season, another 2 ½ miles of single track were added, allowing better access to the East Ridge trail complex.

  • 2018:   The final resolution has been reached on the arsenic exposure on Miner’s Ridge.  The Ranger staff has installed a couple short sections of gravel filled road mats that effectively keep the highest concentration of dirt contained.  All legal trails on Black Mountain are now open for use.  SDMBA received a generous grant from REI for $15,000 for the planning and construction of the Black Widow Trail.  Trek Superstores challenged the community to successfully raise $10,000 by offering a matching $5,000 donations.  We also received generous contributions from sponsors including,  Zoic Clothing, Guy Sutton DDS and over 100 individuals.  

 In the summer of 2018, the official flagging of the new Black Widow alignment was started.  The final plan was approved in March of 2018 but the nesting season for the California Gnatcatcher, a federally protected bird, began during the same month so, no building or flagging was allowed.  Corridor clearing began in early December and work will continue through winter 2019.   This build was anticipated to take more than one season.

  • 2019-20: After two years of work in the dirt (and many more in planning) the Black Widow Trail is officially signed and open in spite of all volunteer trail work days being stopped cold by the Covid-19 Pandemic.  Check out some media attention attracted by this project.  Planning continues with the City of San Diego on other connections for new trails in the area. 

  • 2021-22:  General maintenance work continues to refine Black Widow Trail and other alignments on the mountain. 

  Other Black Mountain Trail Access Efforts: 

  • Formal trails requests will be submitted to the city this summer to extend the Manzanita Loop to the north and also include a connector to the valley below on the north side of the open space.  Also moving through the approval process is a connector to the east side on Cuca Street from Manzanita. 

  • City Staff are beginning work on the Lusardi Management Plan.  While no immediate timelines have been developed, ideas being explored include:

    • Replacing the steep service road along the western side of the Lusardi loop with a contoured single track to create a better grade for climbing and descending

    • Additional trails in Lusardi Canyon Proper to take advantage of the terrain 

    • Bike skills park adjacent to the Black Mountain Ball fields

    • Codify a single track approach to Doug Hill to eliminate inadvertent trespassing on the private residence land