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blue Sycamore Canyon Loop

  4.0 ( 7 ) Favorite


9.2 mile 14.8 kilometer loop
91% Runnable


Ascent: 1,147' 350 m
Descent: -1,149' -350 m
High: 1,132' 345 m
Low: 34' 10 m


Avg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 22% (12°)


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Trail shared by John McKinney

Run through Sycamore Canyon and over the edge of the La Jolla Valley on this long loop.

John McKinney

Features River/Creek · Views


This loop, coming in at over 9 miles, allows you to take in the scenic Sycamore Canyon, as well as great views of the La Jolla Valley and the Pacific coastline.


This loop makes use of the Sycamore Canyon Trail, Backbone Trail, Overlook Trail, and Scenic Trail. After parking at the Big Sycamore Canyon Campground you can run through the site toward the north to reach a yellow gate at the edge of a fire road, which serves as the trailhead for the Sycamore Canyon Trail. From here, follow the trail up the canyon along the creek. You'll pass by a turn-off for the Scenic Trail, continue along the Sycamore Canyon Trail. You'll come across another junction with the Overlook Trail 4/10 of a mile from the trailhead. Again, follow Sycamore Canyon.

Following the trail for another 7/10 of a mile along the relatively flat path you'll come to a juncture with the Serrano Canyon Trail. Pass this turn off and run a mile further to reach a picnicking spot along the trail, complete with a picnic table shaded by the trees. Continue running briefly until you arrive at a junction with the Backbone Trail. At this point the Sycamore Canyon Trail ends and you'll turn left to join up with the Backbone Trail.

Follow the Backbone Trail as it takes you up in elevation to the ridge line between the La Jolla Valley and Sycamore Canyon. Follow the ridge line to the south as you take in great views on both sides. Eventually you'll come to a fork in the path, stay to the left to join up with the Overlook Trail.

The Overlook Trail offers great views of Big Sycamore Canyon and the surrounding mountains, including Boney Peak, as it starts to wind its way down into the canyon. Eventually you'll come across a juncture with the Scenic Trail, stay to the right to follow this new trail along your run. Following the Scenic Trail to the south initially you'll run along the coastal cliffs before winding back into the canyon. Descending down the hillside you'll soon come to an intersection with the Sycamore Canyon Trail near the Sycamore Canyon Campground, at which point the Scenic Trail ends and you can follow the Sycamore Canyon Trail to the right very briefly until you return to the original trailhead.

Thanks to John McKinney, The Trailmaster, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about trails in California, check out his guides at The Trailmaster Store.

Flora & Fauna

During the fall season it is likely that there will be a lot of monarch butterflies in the area.


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Mar 17, 2019
Elliott Bates

Stewarded By

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 7 votes


  4.0 from 7 votes
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