Worthwhile primarily for the view, which can be wide-ranging and spectacular on the clearest late fall or winter days, the Rim Trail in Mission Trails Regional Park rambles along a sparsely vegetated ridgeline overlooking much of metropolitan San Diego to the south and west. To the east, Fortuna Mountain rises like a scruffy hog’s back, and below, at its foot, lies the pristine, oak-lined valley of Suycott Wash.
To get to the trailhead, exit Interstate 15 at Tierrasanta Boulevard. Drive two miles east (nearly to Tierrasanta Boulevard’s dead-end), and turn left on Colina Dorada. Drive 1.0 mile north to the intersection of Colina Dorada and Calle de Vida, where parking is available.
From the trailhead, start hiking (or biking) northeast along the wide, nearly flat trail. At 0.5 mile you pass a deep road cut (accompanied by a trail) on the right where a proposed Clairemont Mesa Boulevard extension would have connected with a proposed extension of Jackson Drive. This road connection is not likely to happen at any time soon, if ever.
Continue straight (northeast) along the west side of a hill to a wide intersection of trails on a 730-foot-elevation saddle at 0.8 mile. The “Twin Towers” cylindrical structures on the hill are part of the second San Diego Aqueduct, which supplies water to our region from sources far to the north.
At the 730-foot saddle, veer left on the signed Rim Trail. Some 2.4 miles later you will return to this saddle after looping counterclockwise on a route that is popular with mountain bikers as well as hikers. There are many intersections along the way with directional signs that are easier to spot if you follow the route counterclockwise. Keep in mind that the Rim Trail is just that — it stays high on the ridges and does not descend very far into ravines. When you get back to the 730-foot saddle, return to the trailhead the way you came.
On foot or by mountain bike, travel panoramic trails on the west rim of Mission Trails Regional Park.
Distance from downtown San Diego: 12 miles
Biking length: 4 miles