There’s some wonderful running in the beach towns north of San Diego. Here, we focus on the best places to run the Encinitas Area (about 25 miles north of San Diego), from Solana Beach to Leucadia.
Great Beaches for Running. There are miles of beach running in the area north of San Diego. One can run for 6 miles, nearly continuously, from the southeastern boundary of Swami’s State Beach (Tower 10) at Solana Beach, north to Grandview State Beach. There’s a series of towers that are good markers. From Tower 10, it’s 1.5 miles north along Cardiff Beach to Tower 16, then another 1.5 miles north to the south end of Swami’s. We also love the 1.2 mile stretch between Swami’s and Moonlight Beach. From Moonlight Beach, there’s another 2 miles of lovely, continuous beach running north to Grandview Surf Beach, passing Leucadia State Beach with bluffs above.
San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve. There are 7 miles of dirt trails in this gorgeous, 970-acre coastal wetlands area. This is easy-to-moderate trail running, with wonderful views of coastal strand, salt marsh, freshwater/brackish marsh, riparian scrub, coastal sage scrub, and mixed chaparral that change regularly with the light and tides. To get the heart rate up, run the short Annie’s Canyon Trail. Access points are at the Nature Center (good parking), or at one of the access points in the Solana Beach residential area. Good to combine with Cardiff Beach bike path/beach — access is via an underpass at the southwestern end of the Preserve. TRAIL MAP
Bike Path Along San Elijo State Beach. A paved bike path runs alongside (but separated from) the South Coast Highway for 1.6 miles from the south end of San Elijo State Beach north to Swamis Seaside Park. There are some great water views along here. Nice to combine with a run on the 2-mile San Elijo State Beach. ROUTE MAP