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1977 San Diego guide to best walks

Coronado, University Heights, Hillcrest's footbridges, La Mesa's hidden steps, Del Mar, Bird Rock, downtown San Diego

428 steps of La Mesa

If walking muscles ever become vestigial organs, one can imagine it happening first in Southern California. The car reigns here, and we subjects buck its rule only timorously. We jog, we bicycle, we swim, but we rarely walk — not because there are no nice places to do so.

Given San Diego’s sprawl and the skeletal nature of the public transit system, walking as transportation tends to be impractical. But walking as recreation offers some rare delights. Natural beauty which enlivens the landscape — the flower-laden trees, the sudden glimpses of the ocean’s glitter, the tangy scent of the canyons — can be savored slowly on foot. Diehard pedestrians acquire a knowledge of the places they walk which is far more intimate than that ever achieved by the motorist. Contrary to popular opinion, walking is not illegal in San Diego, although confirmed walkers confess to tasting the thrill of forbidden pleasures as they stroll down the city’s empty by-ways.

Of course, walking is something one can do almost anywhere, but a number of factors (sidewalks, pleasant scenery, freedom from the noise and fumes of passing traffic) make some pathways preferable to others. Most of the following suggestions are based on the theory that a serious stroll should consume at least an hour or two, but neophyte pedestrians can make them less formidable by using only portions of the routes. These walks aren’t intended primarily as sightseeing guides, just as pleasant places to perambulate.

Coronado. For a thorough tour of the peninsular city, park anywhere near the Coronado Yacht Club, then begin by heading away from the Hotel Del, on Glorietta Boulevard. This lovely street will take you between the Coronado Municipal Golf Course and the bays (on your right) and a parade of beautifully manicured homes on your left. Turn left at the well-tended rose bushes at Fifth Avenue and trudge up the mild ascent to E Avenue, where you should turn right and head for the bay. You’ll pass four blocks of more modest homes and cottages, then you’ll hit First Street. To your right, you can see the large empty lot where the ferry used to land. For a more pleasant spot to take in the breathtaking view of the skyline, however, proceed straight ahead, to a park so tiny it’s easy to overlook it. “Provided for your enjoyment by SDG&E,” three benches offer rest amid a patch of greenery. Enjoy it, then proceed northwest on First Street.

Peer into the Navy base at the end of First, then head back into the center of town on Palm Avenue, lined with a wonderful assortment of palm trees. Turn right again on D Avenue and you can rest again in the shade trees behind the library (and perhaps watch a game of lawn bowling) then walk southwest on Olive. At the end of it, take a short jog to the left, then head right on Marina, where another short block will take you to the corner of Marina and Ocean Boulevard and the magnificent red brick mansion designed by San Diego architect W. S. Hebbard at the height of his career in 1915.

The remaining walk up to the Hotel Del Coronado leads you past several other notable homes, including one on the corner of Isabella done by architect Irving Gill in 1910, another 1910 Gill work at 1007 Ocean Boulevard, and a staggering Gill-Hebbard collaboration at 1015 Ocean Boulevard which looks more like a museum than a private residence. Finish by cutting through the hotel and across the street back to your car. (With a few rest stops, this very long walk will consume at least two hours even at a brisk pace.)

Del Mar. This much shorter stroll exposes the walker to several facets of the seaside city’s character. Start by parking near the intersection of Tenth Street and Camino Del Mar, where you should take Tenth up the hill and away from the ocean. Tenth will run into Luneta Drive, lined with a number of beautiful homes. Follow Luneta to the left, then proceed to 15th Street, then turn left back to the ocean, past the city’s library, post office and civic buildings. The street ends in a well-trimmed green park, where you can rest and ponder two alternative paths.

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You can head north along the beach, walking on the sand, or you can walk on Coast Boulevard, which runs north of the park. The latter is little more than an alley, but it provides some interesting glimpses of the waterfront homes. In any case, turn right when you reach 20th Street, and head over to Camino Del Mar. Following it back south to your starting point will take you past a tantalizing assortment of shops and restaurants which provide a pleasant excuse for extending the outing.

Downtown San Diego. Budget at least an hour and a half for this sight-laden walk. Two-hour parking usually is plentiful around Pantoja Park (bordered by F, G, India and Columbia streets), the oldest park in downtown San Diego. Stroll through it, then head north on Columbia past the USO and the Federal Correctional Center (the tall beige building to your right). Turn right on Broadway and note the county courthouse (between Union and Front) and the renovated Pickwick Hotel, a little further down the street. You pass Spreckels Building between First and Second Streets, where the theater, a completely separate structure within the building, now frequently offers live music and drama. Be sure to pause for some people-watching at Horton Plaza, two blocks further, then move on to turn right on Fifth Avenue.

You’re in the Gaslamp Quarter, where business and bawdy pleasure thrived around the turn of the century and redevelopment controversies are flourishing today. At Fifth and E, note the Far East Trading Company Ltd. building, built in 1884. In the middle of the next block, San Diego Hardware still seems to carry every imaginable nut and bolt, along with a profusion of other assorted goods. Across the street stands Ratner’s (built in 1887 as the Bank of Commerce Building), the Nesmith-Greely building at 835 Fifth (former home of San Diego Illustrated), and the Marston Building, the site of George Marston’s third department store. The early Chicago-style Keating Block building on the northwest corner of Fifth and F boasted one of the few cage elevators in the city.

Across F Street from it, the Spencer-Ogden building is reputed to be the oldest building on Fifth Avenue. A block further, note the Llewelyn Building, built in 1887 and now housing the Neptune Hotel; and the Cole Block, originally intended as an office building. The old city hall building also stood at Fifth and G before being demolished. Continuing south, you’ll pass the 90-year-old Ferris and Ferris drugstore, several rescue missions, and finally, the Francis Family Antique store and the Old Spaghetti Factory at Fifth and K. A final little jog (two blocks over to Seventh and and one block down to L) will take you to the Farmer’s Bazaar, which has been bustling with people and fresh produce since it opened this summer.

Return by going up Fourth Street (note the Golden West Hotel, built by John D. Spreckels to house his construction workers; and the Royal Pie Bakery, operating for nearly 100 years), then head back west on F Street. At the intersection of F and Fourth be sure to poke your head in for a look at the Horton Grapd Hotel’s main staircase, so magnificent that MGM Studios once tried to buy it. Continuing west, note the Federal Hotel, built in 1913 for the 1915 Pan-Cal-ifornia Exposition. Across the street looms the red hulk of the new Federal Building. Two blocks further, you’re back at Pantoja' Park and your car.

The Hidden Footbridges of Hillcrest. One of the few paths in San Diego which makes the pedestrian feel like king. Park around the busy intersection of Washington and Lincoln streets, then walk west on Lincoln to the Vermont Street intersection. Facing south, you’ll see Sears and the wonderful footbridge next to it, a peeling white wooden structure which will take you over the heads of palms and other vegetation as well as the roar of the Washington Street traffic. Angle southwest across the Sears parking lot and you’ll reach University, where you should walk west right through part of the Hill-crest shopping district. Then head left on Third Street and appreciate the quiet residential section; one pleasant surprise on the corner of Robinson and Third is the somber grey Thackeray Gallery.

Follow Third and then Second street south, and by the time you hit Spruce you’ll be into the exclusive and expensive Banker’s Hill section of town. Turn right on Spruce and a three-block stroll will take you to the amazing Spruce Street suspension bridge, a swaying creation of cables and handrails and planks.

Once you’ve crossed the bridge, you can’t go very far, but take a loop around the block (right on Brant, left on Thorn, left on Curlew, then back to the bridge) to get a look at more of the elegant neighborhood. Then recross the bridge, turn right on First, then left on Quince, and another two-block jog will take you to the tamer Quince Street footbridge. Proceed directly on Quince into Balboa Park, where you should cross Balboa Drive, then turn left on the pink concrete path heading into the trees. The path will take you past six roque courts, where the San Diego Roque Club plays daily, then on past a large children’s playground.

When you reach the field of grass across from the playground, turn right and leave the paved path. Walk over to the edge of the canyon and follow it north until you find an old abandoned bridle path which plunges down into the trees. At the bottom of it you’ll find the last footbridge a concrete construction built in 1946 which served horses for more than a decade.

On the other side of it, follow the leftward path into the trees. The narrow walkway soon will meet a broader one which you should follow (to the right) down one hill and up another. In the clearing, you’ll see a narrow trail to your right ascending directly away from the freeway. This trail ends in a vine-covered pergola, a pleasant spot to rest before the last leg back.

Finish by turning left and following Myrtle Way to Richmond. Turn left again and walk seven blocks to Cleveland, turn right and walk to Lincoln, where a final left turn should return you to your starting point.

The 428 Secret Steps of La Mesa. This has to be the East County’s most interesting promenade. Walk it carefully, however, for the secret steps are easy to miss. Start at the corner of Normal Avenue and Windsor Drive, southwest of La Mesa’s business district. Then walk up Windsor to where it intersects Canterbury. Directly across from the street sign, you’ll find the first in the series of stairs, which allow pedestrians to walk directly up to the top of the mountain.

The steps up are easy to follow. They’re interrupted twice by streets, then they end at Summit Drive on the top. The point of climbing them, however, is to take advantage of the magnificent view of the valleys and mountains behind you, a view which grows increasingly breathtaking the farther you ascend. After you finish savoring the vista from the very top, turn left and walk past a half-dozen opulent houses.

On the left side of the street, between 4250 and 4258 Summit Drive, you’ll find the steps leading down, which finally will deposit you near Beverly Drive and Acacia Avenue.

For all the wonder of the steps, the walk back to your starting point also is fun, leading past suburban spreads which seem to bulge with well-polished prosperity. Proceeding left on Acacia you’ll come upon Vista Drive. Go left on it and follow it to Pasadena. Turn right there, then left on Fairview and left on Normal, which will bring you back to Windsor.

Mission Beach: If you can avoid being run over by the skateboards and the rollerskates and bicyclists. Mission Beach provides one of the liveliest walks in town — certainly one where you’re most certain to meet fellow walkers.

Start up at the north end of Ocean Front Walk, just south of Pacific Beach Drive. Simply follow the boardwalk south, exploring the side courts with the exotic names as they strike your fancy (Zanzibar, Tangiers, Portsmouth and dozens of others). When you get all the way down to Belmont Park, turn left, on Ventura Place, then left again on Mission Boulevard, then turn right and go over to the quieter Bayside Walk, which you can follow back north to your starting point. One of the best things about this walk is the way it changes character with the time you choose to walk it. On summer afternoons it’s mass pandemonium, while winter evenings find it surprisingly deserted.

University Heights. A large ostrich farm once dominated this quiet neighborhood, now filled with comfortable-looking residences. Begin at the intersection of Adams and Park Boulevard, walking a short block north on Park to Mission Cliff Drive. If you then turn left and walk another block, you come upon one of the most peculiar street signs in the city. The sign, which announces the intersection of North Court and Mission Cliffs Circle, is quite normal, but it’s planted in a round section of grass behind a stone wall and a circle of oleanders which usually are dripping with colorful blossoms. If you continue past it you’ll meet Adams Avenue again and the first of a series of views down the canyon into the valley below.

Walk away from the canyon on Adams, then turn right on North Avenue, go one block and turn right on Madison, then go another block and turn right on Campus. This will take you to Golden Gate Drive, a relatively short street with a commanding view of Mission Valley on one side. The road -makes a series of short bends here, so just follow them in the only way possible: Golden Gate to New York to Madison to Rhode Island back to Golden Gate, then left on Massachusetts Street and right on Madison, ending where Madison comes to a stop at one final and best view of the valley. (A short road to the left here ends in a private development). Return to your starting point by following Madison back to Park Boulevard; detours in this neighborhood are short and not likely to lose anyone with a sense of direction.

Bird Rock. Start at the intersection of La Jolla Boulevard and Colima Street, in the very southern section of La Jolla. Take Colima east to Beaumont, where a left turn will take you past the oldest houses in Bird Rock. At Camino de la Costa, turn left again and go one block to La Jolla Hermosa. On your right, off the end of the street, you’ll see a dirt trail leading north. Follow it through one of the most beautiful “alleys” in San Diego County.

Once a bridle path, this byway usually bursts with the color of flowers and assorted birds. It runs into the paved bike path which you can follow uphill to Nautilus. At Nautilus, turn left and proceed down to Neptune Beach, where another left turn will take you into a more opulent section of the neighborhood.

Rather than following specific street signs, just walk along the path which leads closest to the ocean. Since many of the huge, secluded houses sit right on the water’s edge, you’ll have to follow some streets running behind them, but the views of the private gardens often are as diverting as the seascape. The major street you’ll find yourself on is Camino de la Costa, and sections of it are so still and well-groomed that it suggests an enormous training ground for graduate maids and butlers. Near the actual bird rock itself, Camino de la Costa bends east, leading you in one block to La Jolla Boulevard. The boulevard holds enough shops and restaurants to entertain any pedestrian on the way back to the Colima starting point.

Perhaps because San Diego seems to be such a hostile environment for walking, a number of enthusiastic pedestrians have banded together to brave the deserted thoroughfares together. At least three walking clubs are scheduling regular strolls, and all welcome newcomers. Most formally organized is the Starlite Hiking Club, whose mostly older members walk Friday nights from April through December, and one Sunday a month all year round. The nucleus of this club has existed in San Diego for more than 40 years, and new members can find out which strolls are planned by calling Edith Wyatt at 422-3321.

A much younger but enthusiastically supported group is The Pack, which specializes in nocturnal prowls all over the San Diego area. Organized early last spring, The Pack is loosely affiliated with the American Youth Hostel organization, which carries details of scheduled walks. Pack walks have tended to be quite vigorous and loosely structured and organizers promise that upcoming events will include a Halloween walk, strolls through Ensenada and Julian and assorted ethnic walks in San Diego. Finally, the newest walking group, organized this summer, is dedicated to walkers over 55 years old, who want to experience weekly forays throughout the city. Organizer Trudy Heilbron dispenses details at 282-4418.

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428 steps of La Mesa

If walking muscles ever become vestigial organs, one can imagine it happening first in Southern California. The car reigns here, and we subjects buck its rule only timorously. We jog, we bicycle, we swim, but we rarely walk — not because there are no nice places to do so.

Given San Diego’s sprawl and the skeletal nature of the public transit system, walking as transportation tends to be impractical. But walking as recreation offers some rare delights. Natural beauty which enlivens the landscape — the flower-laden trees, the sudden glimpses of the ocean’s glitter, the tangy scent of the canyons — can be savored slowly on foot. Diehard pedestrians acquire a knowledge of the places they walk which is far more intimate than that ever achieved by the motorist. Contrary to popular opinion, walking is not illegal in San Diego, although confirmed walkers confess to tasting the thrill of forbidden pleasures as they stroll down the city’s empty by-ways.

Of course, walking is something one can do almost anywhere, but a number of factors (sidewalks, pleasant scenery, freedom from the noise and fumes of passing traffic) make some pathways preferable to others. Most of the following suggestions are based on the theory that a serious stroll should consume at least an hour or two, but neophyte pedestrians can make them less formidable by using only portions of the routes. These walks aren’t intended primarily as sightseeing guides, just as pleasant places to perambulate.

Coronado. For a thorough tour of the peninsular city, park anywhere near the Coronado Yacht Club, then begin by heading away from the Hotel Del, on Glorietta Boulevard. This lovely street will take you between the Coronado Municipal Golf Course and the bays (on your right) and a parade of beautifully manicured homes on your left. Turn left at the well-tended rose bushes at Fifth Avenue and trudge up the mild ascent to E Avenue, where you should turn right and head for the bay. You’ll pass four blocks of more modest homes and cottages, then you’ll hit First Street. To your right, you can see the large empty lot where the ferry used to land. For a more pleasant spot to take in the breathtaking view of the skyline, however, proceed straight ahead, to a park so tiny it’s easy to overlook it. “Provided for your enjoyment by SDG&E,” three benches offer rest amid a patch of greenery. Enjoy it, then proceed northwest on First Street.

Peer into the Navy base at the end of First, then head back into the center of town on Palm Avenue, lined with a wonderful assortment of palm trees. Turn right again on D Avenue and you can rest again in the shade trees behind the library (and perhaps watch a game of lawn bowling) then walk southwest on Olive. At the end of it, take a short jog to the left, then head right on Marina, where another short block will take you to the corner of Marina and Ocean Boulevard and the magnificent red brick mansion designed by San Diego architect W. S. Hebbard at the height of his career in 1915.

The remaining walk up to the Hotel Del Coronado leads you past several other notable homes, including one on the corner of Isabella done by architect Irving Gill in 1910, another 1910 Gill work at 1007 Ocean Boulevard, and a staggering Gill-Hebbard collaboration at 1015 Ocean Boulevard which looks more like a museum than a private residence. Finish by cutting through the hotel and across the street back to your car. (With a few rest stops, this very long walk will consume at least two hours even at a brisk pace.)

Del Mar. This much shorter stroll exposes the walker to several facets of the seaside city’s character. Start by parking near the intersection of Tenth Street and Camino Del Mar, where you should take Tenth up the hill and away from the ocean. Tenth will run into Luneta Drive, lined with a number of beautiful homes. Follow Luneta to the left, then proceed to 15th Street, then turn left back to the ocean, past the city’s library, post office and civic buildings. The street ends in a well-trimmed green park, where you can rest and ponder two alternative paths.

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You can head north along the beach, walking on the sand, or you can walk on Coast Boulevard, which runs north of the park. The latter is little more than an alley, but it provides some interesting glimpses of the waterfront homes. In any case, turn right when you reach 20th Street, and head over to Camino Del Mar. Following it back south to your starting point will take you past a tantalizing assortment of shops and restaurants which provide a pleasant excuse for extending the outing.

Downtown San Diego. Budget at least an hour and a half for this sight-laden walk. Two-hour parking usually is plentiful around Pantoja Park (bordered by F, G, India and Columbia streets), the oldest park in downtown San Diego. Stroll through it, then head north on Columbia past the USO and the Federal Correctional Center (the tall beige building to your right). Turn right on Broadway and note the county courthouse (between Union and Front) and the renovated Pickwick Hotel, a little further down the street. You pass Spreckels Building between First and Second Streets, where the theater, a completely separate structure within the building, now frequently offers live music and drama. Be sure to pause for some people-watching at Horton Plaza, two blocks further, then move on to turn right on Fifth Avenue.

You’re in the Gaslamp Quarter, where business and bawdy pleasure thrived around the turn of the century and redevelopment controversies are flourishing today. At Fifth and E, note the Far East Trading Company Ltd. building, built in 1884. In the middle of the next block, San Diego Hardware still seems to carry every imaginable nut and bolt, along with a profusion of other assorted goods. Across the street stands Ratner’s (built in 1887 as the Bank of Commerce Building), the Nesmith-Greely building at 835 Fifth (former home of San Diego Illustrated), and the Marston Building, the site of George Marston’s third department store. The early Chicago-style Keating Block building on the northwest corner of Fifth and F boasted one of the few cage elevators in the city.

Across F Street from it, the Spencer-Ogden building is reputed to be the oldest building on Fifth Avenue. A block further, note the Llewelyn Building, built in 1887 and now housing the Neptune Hotel; and the Cole Block, originally intended as an office building. The old city hall building also stood at Fifth and G before being demolished. Continuing south, you’ll pass the 90-year-old Ferris and Ferris drugstore, several rescue missions, and finally, the Francis Family Antique store and the Old Spaghetti Factory at Fifth and K. A final little jog (two blocks over to Seventh and and one block down to L) will take you to the Farmer’s Bazaar, which has been bustling with people and fresh produce since it opened this summer.

Return by going up Fourth Street (note the Golden West Hotel, built by John D. Spreckels to house his construction workers; and the Royal Pie Bakery, operating for nearly 100 years), then head back west on F Street. At the intersection of F and Fourth be sure to poke your head in for a look at the Horton Grapd Hotel’s main staircase, so magnificent that MGM Studios once tried to buy it. Continuing west, note the Federal Hotel, built in 1913 for the 1915 Pan-Cal-ifornia Exposition. Across the street looms the red hulk of the new Federal Building. Two blocks further, you’re back at Pantoja' Park and your car.

The Hidden Footbridges of Hillcrest. One of the few paths in San Diego which makes the pedestrian feel like king. Park around the busy intersection of Washington and Lincoln streets, then walk west on Lincoln to the Vermont Street intersection. Facing south, you’ll see Sears and the wonderful footbridge next to it, a peeling white wooden structure which will take you over the heads of palms and other vegetation as well as the roar of the Washington Street traffic. Angle southwest across the Sears parking lot and you’ll reach University, where you should walk west right through part of the Hill-crest shopping district. Then head left on Third Street and appreciate the quiet residential section; one pleasant surprise on the corner of Robinson and Third is the somber grey Thackeray Gallery.

Follow Third and then Second street south, and by the time you hit Spruce you’ll be into the exclusive and expensive Banker’s Hill section of town. Turn right on Spruce and a three-block stroll will take you to the amazing Spruce Street suspension bridge, a swaying creation of cables and handrails and planks.

Once you’ve crossed the bridge, you can’t go very far, but take a loop around the block (right on Brant, left on Thorn, left on Curlew, then back to the bridge) to get a look at more of the elegant neighborhood. Then recross the bridge, turn right on First, then left on Quince, and another two-block jog will take you to the tamer Quince Street footbridge. Proceed directly on Quince into Balboa Park, where you should cross Balboa Drive, then turn left on the pink concrete path heading into the trees. The path will take you past six roque courts, where the San Diego Roque Club plays daily, then on past a large children’s playground.

When you reach the field of grass across from the playground, turn right and leave the paved path. Walk over to the edge of the canyon and follow it north until you find an old abandoned bridle path which plunges down into the trees. At the bottom of it you’ll find the last footbridge a concrete construction built in 1946 which served horses for more than a decade.

On the other side of it, follow the leftward path into the trees. The narrow walkway soon will meet a broader one which you should follow (to the right) down one hill and up another. In the clearing, you’ll see a narrow trail to your right ascending directly away from the freeway. This trail ends in a vine-covered pergola, a pleasant spot to rest before the last leg back.

Finish by turning left and following Myrtle Way to Richmond. Turn left again and walk seven blocks to Cleveland, turn right and walk to Lincoln, where a final left turn should return you to your starting point.

The 428 Secret Steps of La Mesa. This has to be the East County’s most interesting promenade. Walk it carefully, however, for the secret steps are easy to miss. Start at the corner of Normal Avenue and Windsor Drive, southwest of La Mesa’s business district. Then walk up Windsor to where it intersects Canterbury. Directly across from the street sign, you’ll find the first in the series of stairs, which allow pedestrians to walk directly up to the top of the mountain.

The steps up are easy to follow. They’re interrupted twice by streets, then they end at Summit Drive on the top. The point of climbing them, however, is to take advantage of the magnificent view of the valleys and mountains behind you, a view which grows increasingly breathtaking the farther you ascend. After you finish savoring the vista from the very top, turn left and walk past a half-dozen opulent houses.

On the left side of the street, between 4250 and 4258 Summit Drive, you’ll find the steps leading down, which finally will deposit you near Beverly Drive and Acacia Avenue.

For all the wonder of the steps, the walk back to your starting point also is fun, leading past suburban spreads which seem to bulge with well-polished prosperity. Proceeding left on Acacia you’ll come upon Vista Drive. Go left on it and follow it to Pasadena. Turn right there, then left on Fairview and left on Normal, which will bring you back to Windsor.

Mission Beach: If you can avoid being run over by the skateboards and the rollerskates and bicyclists. Mission Beach provides one of the liveliest walks in town — certainly one where you’re most certain to meet fellow walkers.

Start up at the north end of Ocean Front Walk, just south of Pacific Beach Drive. Simply follow the boardwalk south, exploring the side courts with the exotic names as they strike your fancy (Zanzibar, Tangiers, Portsmouth and dozens of others). When you get all the way down to Belmont Park, turn left, on Ventura Place, then left again on Mission Boulevard, then turn right and go over to the quieter Bayside Walk, which you can follow back north to your starting point. One of the best things about this walk is the way it changes character with the time you choose to walk it. On summer afternoons it’s mass pandemonium, while winter evenings find it surprisingly deserted.

University Heights. A large ostrich farm once dominated this quiet neighborhood, now filled with comfortable-looking residences. Begin at the intersection of Adams and Park Boulevard, walking a short block north on Park to Mission Cliff Drive. If you then turn left and walk another block, you come upon one of the most peculiar street signs in the city. The sign, which announces the intersection of North Court and Mission Cliffs Circle, is quite normal, but it’s planted in a round section of grass behind a stone wall and a circle of oleanders which usually are dripping with colorful blossoms. If you continue past it you’ll meet Adams Avenue again and the first of a series of views down the canyon into the valley below.

Walk away from the canyon on Adams, then turn right on North Avenue, go one block and turn right on Madison, then go another block and turn right on Campus. This will take you to Golden Gate Drive, a relatively short street with a commanding view of Mission Valley on one side. The road -makes a series of short bends here, so just follow them in the only way possible: Golden Gate to New York to Madison to Rhode Island back to Golden Gate, then left on Massachusetts Street and right on Madison, ending where Madison comes to a stop at one final and best view of the valley. (A short road to the left here ends in a private development). Return to your starting point by following Madison back to Park Boulevard; detours in this neighborhood are short and not likely to lose anyone with a sense of direction.

Bird Rock. Start at the intersection of La Jolla Boulevard and Colima Street, in the very southern section of La Jolla. Take Colima east to Beaumont, where a left turn will take you past the oldest houses in Bird Rock. At Camino de la Costa, turn left again and go one block to La Jolla Hermosa. On your right, off the end of the street, you’ll see a dirt trail leading north. Follow it through one of the most beautiful “alleys” in San Diego County.

Once a bridle path, this byway usually bursts with the color of flowers and assorted birds. It runs into the paved bike path which you can follow uphill to Nautilus. At Nautilus, turn left and proceed down to Neptune Beach, where another left turn will take you into a more opulent section of the neighborhood.

Rather than following specific street signs, just walk along the path which leads closest to the ocean. Since many of the huge, secluded houses sit right on the water’s edge, you’ll have to follow some streets running behind them, but the views of the private gardens often are as diverting as the seascape. The major street you’ll find yourself on is Camino de la Costa, and sections of it are so still and well-groomed that it suggests an enormous training ground for graduate maids and butlers. Near the actual bird rock itself, Camino de la Costa bends east, leading you in one block to La Jolla Boulevard. The boulevard holds enough shops and restaurants to entertain any pedestrian on the way back to the Colima starting point.

Perhaps because San Diego seems to be such a hostile environment for walking, a number of enthusiastic pedestrians have banded together to brave the deserted thoroughfares together. At least three walking clubs are scheduling regular strolls, and all welcome newcomers. Most formally organized is the Starlite Hiking Club, whose mostly older members walk Friday nights from April through December, and one Sunday a month all year round. The nucleus of this club has existed in San Diego for more than 40 years, and new members can find out which strolls are planned by calling Edith Wyatt at 422-3321.

A much younger but enthusiastically supported group is The Pack, which specializes in nocturnal prowls all over the San Diego area. Organized early last spring, The Pack is loosely affiliated with the American Youth Hostel organization, which carries details of scheduled walks. Pack walks have tended to be quite vigorous and loosely structured and organizers promise that upcoming events will include a Halloween walk, strolls through Ensenada and Julian and assorted ethnic walks in San Diego. Finally, the newest walking group, organized this summer, is dedicated to walkers over 55 years old, who want to experience weekly forays throughout the city. Organizer Trudy Heilbron dispenses details at 282-4418.

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