Walkabout California

Hiking Inn to Inn

Stand on cliffs overlooking La Jolla Bay, and take in the abundance of wildlife.  Migrating whales feed close to shore.  Sea lions bark a noisy chorus from offshore outcroppings.  Harbor seals lounge on sheltered beaches.  Dolphins, leopard sharks, shovel-nose guitarfish, and Garibaldi damselfish ply the clear waters.

     Then set out on the final leg of a 200 mile inn-to-inn hiking adventure from North L.A. County to the border with Mexico.  You will hike rugged, rocky coastlines and sublime swimming beaches, on this 32-mile, 5-day sojourn.  Pass through working class seaside villages and elegant upscale towns, offering great cuisine, interesting inns, and always – the wild Pacific.

     After taking advantage of La Jolla’s many restaurants and taverns, hike the first day (5.1 miles) along the rugged coastline, sheer cliffs, pocket coves, and inviting beaches of La Jolla Peninsula.  End the day in Pacific Beach, popular with surfers and sun worshippers.  Take a swim.  Then grab a table at a sidewalk cafe and enjoy the people-watching parade along the strand.

     Hike coastal beaches and the north shore of San Diego Bay on Day 2 (8.5 miles) and Day 3 (6.8 miles).  A ferry takes you across the bay to Coronado.  The Hotel del Coronado is one of the largest and oldest wooden structures in California.  Ornate and regal, it is worth a visit.  Stroll the grounds.  Have a drink at the outdoor beach-side bar.  Then enjoy a balmy evening in the surrounding village – shops, bars with live music, and restaurants with sidewalk tables.

     Day 4 hikes the Silver Strand, an eight-mile long and quarter mile wide strip of sand dune separating San Diego Bay from the Pacific.  You will probably have this beautiful beach all to yourself, sharing it only with flocks of snowy plover and marbled godwits.  There is no hurry.  Slow down.  Savor a deep connection with the powerful Pacific.

     Arrive in Imperial Beach, a slow moving, working class hamlet, the last stop before Mexico.  Enjoy a swim on the beautiful beach. Then take a long walk to the end of the pier and feast on fish tacos and crab cakes at Tin Fish Restaurant, or saddle up to the bar of IB Forum, “the most southwesterly bar and grill in the continental U.S.A.,” for steaks, burgers, or seafood.

     It is only 3.3 miles to the border, a 6.6 mile round trip.  The estuary, marshland, and sand dunes of Border Field State Park flank the beach, a protected refuge rich with birdlife.  You will reach the Tijuana River, and this may end your journey.  But in late summer and fall, it runs shallow and can be waded.  The river’s mouth teems with pelicans, cormorants, gulls, egrets, and endangered least terns and snowy plover.  The terns make an incredible racket, chattering and screeching.         

     You will probably have the final 1.6 miles of this serene beach to yourself.  Reaching the border fence, pause to take in the moment and relish the memory of a five-day adventure along America’s southwestern edge, hiking inn-to-inn.

The La Jolla to Mexico Walkabout is one of the multi-day hikes found in “Walkabout Malibu to Mexico: Hiking Inn-to-Inn on the Southern CA Coast”.  It can also be purchased as an individual guide.


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