Many nature hikes can be enjoyed in Balboa Park. But there’s another beautiful, quiet hike through date palms and eucalyptus trees and bright spring flowers that anyone can enjoy just a few blocks north of downtown San Diego.
The Maple Canyon Trail stretches from a trailhead near Quince Street and Third Avenue on Bankers Hill to a second trailhead at Maple Street and Dove Street in Middletown. It often seems that the only people who use the trail are dog walkers and joggers who live nearby. Those who haven’t hiked this easy trail are missing out on a unique experience. The Maple Canyon Trail passes under two cool historic bridges!
The Quince Street Trestle is a visually interesting wooden footbridge that was built in 1905. Back then streetcars ran up Fourth Avenue, and the trestle allowed pedestrians to cross the steep canyon from the west. A quarter century ago the bridge, weakened by termites and rot, was closed and almost demolished. Local residents took up the cause of saving the bridge, which was finally declared a historic site.
The Maple Canyon Trail also passes beneath the impressive First Avenue Bridge. The arched steel bridge was built in 1931 and was originally known as the Peoples Bridge. Its astonishing height above the trail is a reminder of San Diego’s unique geology. Southern California’s coastal region is crisscrossed in many places by deep, narrow canyons, which often serve as undeveloped habitat for native species of plant and animal life.