San Diego County is known for its outdoor adventures. Let’s be real, that is why I am a San Diego blogger focused on adventures and fun things to do in San Diego! However, when you think of outdoor adventures or outdoor hiking you probably first think of a hike up a mountain not something called the 7 bridges walk.
This outdoor adventure is different. This is an urban hike. A hike through the city of San Diego. It is a 7 Bridges walk that takes you over 7 different bridges you probably didn’t even know existed in San Diego.
Now that I am a San Diego focused blogger my mom and I get to do lots of fun adventures together. My husband does a lot of adventures with me too, but on my days off work, I get to adventure with my mom.
Let’s just say she is quite happy to have me home. Also, she is quite happy to have me be a San Diego blogger because now we search for things we have never done before.
So, we did the 7 Bridges walk in the middle of February. It was a nice and sunny day-we actually both got burnt it was that warm out! So, don’t follow in our footsteps in that sense and remember to wear some sunscreen.
A few things to note: I have done TONS of hikes in San Diego. You can find some other helpful hiking articles here.
7 BRIDGES WALK STARTING IN BALBOA PARK
This urban hike/walk is a hidden gem. A lot of San Diego residents don’t even know about it or have never done this. I know this because my mom posted some pictures from our day on Facebook and so many people commented asking about it or asking for a detailed article on how to do this urban hike.
Like seriously my mom gets so many comments on her Facebook photos. Sometimes that is where I get my inspiration to write articles.
Like this one.
Ok ok, sorry enough backstory. Here is some history about this hike.
This urban hike was created not that long ago-back in 2012 actually. It was created by some volunteers from the San Diego Natural History Museum. The length of the hike varies depending on which route you take. It varies anywhere from 5.5 miles to 6.6 miles.
It is one big loop. Looping through some well-known areas like Balboa Park as well as some neighborhoods like Hillcrest.
So if you are visiting San Diego and choose to do this hike then props to you! If you are a San Diego resident then I highly recommend getting out there and doing this hike!
Tips: An early start is recommended for sun purposes, but also because parking can fill up quickly at Balboa Park.
We parked right behind the Fleet Science Center. If this is full you can check the San Diego Zoo for parking as they have a free parking lot.
#1 CABRILLO BRIDGE SAN DIEGO BRIDGE
Alright! Phew we made it through that long intro! Let’s get to the seven bridges. First up on the list is the Cabrillo Bridge located in Balboa Park.
One thing to note: Most other articles you may read start at a different bridge; however, I am giving you the exact route we did.
From the Fleet Science Center, you will walk into the park and arrive at “the fountain.” From the fountain, you will begin your long journey down through the main street of Balboa Park. As you walk along the main pathway you may pass street vendors, magicians, and lots of beautiful picture spots.
Maybe grab a bacon-wrapped hotdog to fuel your adventure ahead?
Keep walking straight. You will pass the Lilly pond and Botanical gardens on your right. Head onward towards the second fountain. Keep walking past this fountain and then past the clock tower.
Here is where you will walk over your first bridge: Cabrillo Bridge (some know it as the Laurel bridge) as you exit Balboa Park.
This bridge was built in 1915 as an entrance to the 1915 Panama California Exposition. It now stands at 42 feet high, 1,500 feet long and crosses the 163 freeway.
#2 FIRST AVENUE BRIDGE SAN DIEGO BRIDGE
Second, up is the First Avenue Bridge. As you leave the Cabrillo bridge you will now begin your urban hike. The main walkway in Balboa Park (El Prado) now turns into Laurel street.
You will pass a dog park on your left and then cross 6th Avenue. Continue on until you reach 1st Avenue. (You should still be on Laurel street).
Turn right onto First Avenue, keep walking north until you cross the First Avenue Bridge towards Quince Street.
This is the only steel arch bridge in all of San Diego! This bridge was built in 1931 and was shipped into San Diego and reassembled here.
Tip: If you want to view one of the ten churches Irving Gill designed then remain on Laurel St. cross Secon Avenue and you will see it.
If you want to see a plaque commemorating Waldo Waterman’s flight of a hang-glider then follow Second Avenue for one block then turn left on Maple to Albatross Street. Retrace your steps to get back to bridge #2.
Lastly, as you are crossing this bridge if you look to your right you can see the next bridge.
#3 QUINCE STREET BRIDGE
You now have crossed First Avenue bridge and should turn right onto Quince Street. Walk to blocks until you reach the Quince street bridge.
This was my personal favorite bridge of the 7 bridges walk.
This is a wooden trestle bridge that was built in 1905. Wow! It was built so people could get across the canyon to easily get to the trolley station.
You will actually not fully cross this bridge for the hike at least. You can cross it for fun, but if you have a stroller or a wheelchair then you can just look at this bridge as there are steps down to get to the bridge portion itself.
#4 SPRUCE STREET SUSPENSION BRIDGE
You should have crossed back over the Quince Bridge to be back on Quince Street. You will now head one block west and turn right onto Second ave. When you hit Spruce street turn left and continue west towards the suspension bridge.
I honestly had no idea this bridge even existed in San Diego.
You should have now arrived at the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge. This bridge was built in 1912 and crosses Kate Sessions Canyon. If you are afraid of heights this bridge may not be for you as it does swing a bit as you walk across it.
Expect to see some cute houses and quiet neighborhoods along this route!
Cross the bridge completely and then turn right on Brant Street.
Tip: This is a great Instagrammable bridge!
#5 VERMONT STREET BRIDGE
You should now be on Brant street and keep going until you reach Upas Street and Albatross Street. Right on Walnut and then a left on First Avenue. Then a right onto University Avenue.
You will be on University Avenue for a while as you walk through the neighborhood of Hillcrest. Keep going until you reach Vermont street and then turn left. You will go through a shopping center, past a Trader Joe’s and then reach the Vermont Street Bridge.
This is a very modernized bridge, but I loved it because it had inspirational quotes lining the whole bridge. It was built in 1995 to replace an old wooden bridge.
Cross the bridge and turn right onto Lincoln Avenue. Continue on to Georgia Street. Turn right and you should now have arrived at bridge #6.
#6 GEORGIA STREET BRIDGE
Almost there! This is bridge #6 the Georgia Street Bridge. This is a concrete bridge that connects the neighborhoods Hillcrest and North Park. Randomly, this is a local, state and national landmark. I am not quite sure why, but it is.
Cross this bridge to head towards your final bridge #7.
#7 BALBOA PARK BRIDGE: MEMORIAL ROSE GARDEN
Here is where my article differs from most other articles you may find online. My mom and I ended this urban hike but walking through the back dirt trails of Balboa Park.
I had never done this before, but it was beautiful. There were marked trails for the Balboa Park trails and you could watch the planes coming in getting ready to land.
I followed the All Trails route for this one.
So, after crossing the Georgia Street Bridge you will turn right on Robinson Street and then left on Indiana Street. Cross over Upas Street and Morley Field Dr. and then you will begin your trek through the hills behind Balboa Park.
You will eventually cross a street and come up to some switchbacks and through the Desert Garden. Finally, you will see the last bridge of the 7 bridges walk from the Desert Garden. Time to finish the hike and cross the Balboa Park Bridge and end back at the fountain you began at.
Either head back to your car or read below for where to eat.
If you choose to not go through the back trails then simply head back south on Park Blvd for the last mile.
NOW WHAT…YOU MUST BE HUNGRY!
We were starving after this hike, so we decided to head back into Balboa Park and enjoy a nice salad and some iced tea at The Prado.
This is a nice restaurant that has both indoor and outdoor seating, but as you can imagine on a weekend it is quite busy.
So, if you are open to a more limited menu then there is a certain area out on the patio in the corner that you can just walk up to and sit at. No long line/wait and no reservation needed.
We got some delicious salads and literally had no wait.
7 BRIDGES WALK MAP
FAQ ABOUT THE 7 BRIDGES WALK?
1. How long is the 7 bridges walk in San Diego? It varies from 5.5 miles to 6.6 miles
2. How long does the seven bridges walk take? It took my mom and I about 2.5 hours
3. Where do the 7 bridges walk start? Honestly, you can start the hike anywhere, but the most common place to start is in Balboa Park.
4. When is the best time to do this hike? This hike is great year-round!
5. Is this hike wheelchair friendly? I would say this hike is doable for wheelchairs and strollers. There may be one or two bridges you can’t go over, due to steps, but you can look at them. Also, you would need to take the shorter 5.5 miles route to avoid the hills portion behind Balboa Park.
FINAL THOUGHTS FROM YOUR OUTDOOR LOVING SAN DIEGO GIRL
There it is! This was such a fun new way to hike and walk and explore the city of San Diego. Let me know in the comments below if you have done this hike before or if you would be interested in this hike!?
Alright, my friends, shaka 🤙🏼from your, forever crushing on San Diego, girl!
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