Balboa Park is one of the great urban parks in the United States. At twice the size of New York’s Central Park, Balboa Park is also the sight of the San Diego Zoo, the Globe Theater, and several museums. There are 65 miles of trails and paths, and a lovely variety of lush terrain through gardens and groves.
The best bet is to use 1 mile long Prado El Prado, which runs east-west, as an anchor. There are many options for running, such as more developed trails by the sites to more wooded routes. This link shows options from five different ‘gateways’, each with their own suggested loops, though the trails do overlap. There are good trail maps at kiosks throughout the park. Trails are clearly marked with color coded, numbered signs, which inform users of the distance, degree of difficulty and change of route direction. There are 19 trails that lead from 5 gateways in the Park. A range of paved and unpaved surfaces. Some sections quite hilly.
Highlights are the the #2 trail (4.1 miles) which leads you through the park’s exquisite museums and gardens, or the #33 trail loop (3.7 miles) that runs through Florida Canyon’s Native Plant Preserve. There are multiple access points, including one on 6th Ave. The park is about 1.5 miles from downtown. If you love botanical gardens, see Sproutable’s guide to the best botanical gardens (Balboa Park is #4!).