The city of Carlsbad, located 35 miles north of San Diego, is a popular visitor destination and has some great running options, including some of the longest stretches of coastal road with unobstructed water views. Our recommendations on the best places to run in Carlsbad:
Oceanfront Roads. Carlsbad boasts some of the longest stretches of coastal road with unobstructed water views in the San Diego area. We’ve mapped a route that runs for nearly 6 miles from the Ponto State Beach Jetty north to Carlsbad Village. It’s a mix of road-side bike path and some separate pedestrian sections. One could break this up into two runs. From the Ponto State Beach Jetty (Tower 22) to Cannon Rd., it’s ~3 miles. About 2/3 of this is on the road going through the South Carlsbad State Beach Campground.
Even more spectacular is the section north of Cannon Rd. along Carlsbad Blvd. There are wonderful ocean views, an 0.5-mile above the ocean at Terra Mar Point, and then a really pretty section along the popular Tamarack Surf Beach, where there’s a separated path from the road.
Beach Running. The beaches in this area are terrific for running, with fairly firm sand near the water. Best stretches in the Carlsbad are the ~2.5 miles along South Carlsbad State Beach/North Pronto Beach till about the Hilton. In the Carlsbad Village area, there’s ~1 mile of nice running along Tamarack Surf Beach.
Batiquitos Lagoon Trail. This is an easy and scenic trail for running. The Batiquitos Lagoon lies just east of I-5 between Encinitas and Carlsbad, and features a 1.6 mile trail along the water, with nice views to the wetlands. There are five public parking lots providing access to the trail, one by the Nature Center and four on Batiquitos Drive. Unfortunately, there’s not good pedestrian access between the beach/coastal road and the lagoon trail. Self-Guided Trail Guide. ROUTE MAP
Rail Trail & Coastal Loop. In Carlsbad Village, there’s a 1-mile trail called the Coastal Rail Trail…that doesn’t actually run along the coast. It runs inland between Tamarack Ave. & Carlsbad Village Dr. There’s a link to it from Carlsbad Blvd. so one can do a nice ~5k loop incorporating the trail and the coastal road. See the ROUTE MAP
Lake Calavera Preserve & Carlsbad Highlands Ecological Preserve. This is a great option for some scenic, easy-to-moderate trail running. Located 4 miles inland from Carlsbad Village, the Preserve features 6-7 miles of trails around the lake and up some hills to some lovely viewpoints. Most popular is the 3.2 mile Lake Loop (180 foot gain). For a longer run or some variety, connect to the 1-mile Solar System Trail, which leads to Sage Creek High School (and a running track!), or enjoy the scenic pasture-like trails of the adjacent Carlsbad Highlands Ecological Preserve. Note: the trails have a varied surface, ranging from paved to sand to firmer dirt. TRAIL MAP