Bayside Trail starts at the service road located just a few yards south of the Old Point Loma Lighthouse at the tip of Point Loma. This area is part of the beautiful and popular Cabrillo National Monument. Some 1.2 million visitors come here annually. Only a fraction will enjoy the Bayside Trail.
Most who come here stick to the wide sidewalk that runs from the Visitors Center up to the lighthouse. You’ll need to take this path also but just prior to reaching the lighthouse there will be a fork to the left leading to the two-lane black asphalt service road. Take the service road to where it bottoms out. The trailhead will be to the left clearly marked by signs and a bench.
The bench will be occupied by those either contemplating a trip down the trail or those catching their breath on their way back up. Elevation loss is roughly 400 feet in a span of one mile. That makes for a very gradual incline. But it might be the reason that many start but few reach the end.
The trail straddles the lower portion of the peninsula on the San Diego Bay side where the fog horn blasts and white capped breakers meet the rocky shoreline. The trail never drops to water level but contours with the terrain at about a hundred feet elevation.
Point Loma, it’s been discovered, is rich in both plant and animal life. While the Bayside trail doubles as a fire road, its secondary purpose is further exploration into the habitat of the gray fox, cottontails, and raccoons. These are rarely seen, but on the trail you’re more likely to run into a number of lizards and snakes including California whiptail (lizard) and the Pacific rattlesnake.
Local vegetation is really the star of the trail and signs identify many of the plant species. These include Indian paint brush, coastal sage brush, black sage, agave, Mohave yucca, prickly pear, and chemise.
The official round trip distance of the trail is 1.86 miles. It ends abruptly with a chain link blocking further travel and Naval Base Point Loma (nuclear subs) in the distance. The return will be a gradual ascension. Upon returning, a bright smile will encourage others to finish the course to the end and back.
Entrance into Cabrillo National Monument is $5.00 per car load and there is always plenty of parking.
The park is open 364 days a year, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Cabrillo National Monument
1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive
San Diego, CA 92106-3601
Phone: (619) 557-5450