The north section of the trail is intimate, running underneath or adjacent to live oaks, willows, and sycamores along the stream. Freeway noise is non-existent and even busy Balboa Avenue doesn't make itself heard until you get quite close. For brief moments it is possible to forget about the city on this not quite 3-star section.
Balboa Avenue presents an unwelcome obstacle. The official route shown here is to parallel the road for 0.15 miles on the north side, protected by concrete barriers, before crossing the road at the east edge of a strip mall on the south side of the street. The trail then descends quickly away from the Balboa Avenue traffic noise. If you are running with small children, it would be safer to continue to Clairemont Drive and cross at the crosswalk. The Balboa Avenue trek can be avoided by crossing underneath the roadway in the tunnel that the creek runs through provided it is dry enough. However, the swampier end of the tunnel is at the south and crossing it looked very unappealing as late as May even though the water in the tunnel itself could have been managed with waterproof boots.
South of Balboa the canyon feels unkempt and it is harder to ignore the press of urban development. This half is a 2-star run. Near the end of the trail, the butt ugly Canyon Ridge apartments dominate the view to the west and the trail degenerates into multiple trails all leading to the same conclusion at Mr. Acadia Blvd.
There is no parking at the trail start shown here. Park on Chateus Dr. Alternatively, park at the North Clairemont Recreation Center and continue south on foot through the canyon to meet the trail as shown about 0.15 miles from the start shown.
Flora & Fauna
Sage scrub and chaparral with live oaks, willows, and sycamores along the stream