For a unique look at La Jolla — from the edge of the village’s commercial center to 811 feet of elevation — try this obscure walking or bicycling route. Cyclists beware: there are some tough uphill stretches here, suitable only for bikes with very low gears or a willingness to walk the bike.
Seek out a parking space somewhere near the intersection of Torrey Pines Road and Prospect Street, and start from there. Go to Exchange Place and begin walking or riding southeast (uphill). Soon Exchange Place splits into Country Club Drive on the right and Soledad Avenue on the left. Take the latter. After one block on Soledad, go right on Al Bahr Drive. On it you follow a curious curlicue under and then over a gracefully curved, arched bridge. At the top of the curlicue, turn right on Crespo Street.
After a hairpin turn on Crespo, look for the intersection of Mecca Drive on the right. A worthwhile side trip up this dead-end narrow lane takes you higher to a startling dropoff offering airy and unobstructed views of La Jolla Bay and the North County coastline. Here you can enjoy the same stupendous views afforded by some of La Jolla’s finest homes.
Ahead on Crespo Street, look for the inconspicuous intersection of Castellana Road, where you veer right. Just ahead, you can visit a hidden overlook at the point where Puente Road, a stubby cul-de-sac, passes over Castellana Road on an arched bridge similar to the one seen earlier. From there, tall trees frame a view of tile rooftops and La Jolla Bay.
Next, back up a little and follow Castellana as it goes under the bridge and descends to meet Hillside Drive. Turn right on Hillside and follow its steep and winding course upward along the north slope of Soledad Mountain. When you reach Rue Adriane, which leads to Via Capri, simply keep straight on the old (closed to traffic) roadbed of Hillside Drive. In time you reach Via Capri, and from there you have only another five minutes of walking to reach Soledad Park. After many years of controversy, the white Easter cross still stands at the high point of the park. Soledad Park’s summit is what many people call “Mount Soledad,” though a slightly higher summit just west, topped by broadcast antennas, holds the official title “Soledad Mountain.”
After taking in the view from the summit, head back downhill, returning the way you came.
La Jolla to Soledad Park
Climb from the bottom to the top of La Jolla, by foot or by low-gear bike.
Distance from downtown San Diego: 12 miles
Hiking/bike length: 6 miles round trip
Difficulty: Moderately strenuous