3 Perfect Park Escapes for Students

Following the winter holidays, a large spike in COVID-19 cases was seen nationwide. Since Point Loma Nazarene University students have returned to campus, a growing number of COVID-19 cases have been mirrored in the community as well. While students are eager to reconnect with their peers, it has been difficult and often scary with the high volume of cases on campus.

In an effort to follow recommended safety guidelines, some students have turned to outdoor activities. Although surfing and hanging out on the beach are popular activities, hiking has been an increasingly popular pastime.

Third-year applied health major Megan Lewis has always been active and claims that the pandemic has only increased her desire to spend more time outdoors.

“Hiking has been the perfect activity recently, it just feels really good to be able to get some exercise outside with my friends without having to worry about the repercussions of the pandemic,” Lewis said.

California holds nine national and 280 state parks that make experiences like this possible, but people often do not realize how many options they have in their own city. San Diego Coast District oversees thirteen state parks, all proximate to the PLNU campus. To help eager students experience nature with their friends, a list of popular parks that have hikes to fit all skill levels has been included below. 

Cabrillo National Monument – 3.2 miles away

Whether one is looking for a hike to fill some time between classes or just a quiet spot to sit in nature, Cabrillo National Monument offers plenty of activities even for adventurers with little experience. This park sits at the end of Point Loma’s peninsula, and if the goal is to get a little extra exercise in, it is easy to walk, run, or bike to the entrance. At the monument, the option is given to head down to the tide pools or tour the visitor center. Both options have pathed and dirt pathways that students can hike along. Benches are scattered throughout the monument for visitors to appreciate the views of both downtown San Diego and the Pacific Ocean. 

Mission Trails Regional Park – 17 miles away

Although it is a bit of a drive to get to the park, the Mission Trails Regional Park is a perfect way to spend a day. It is about 7200 acres of land and has everything guests could dream of, from specific trails for horseback riding and mountain biking to its own lake, where visitors can go boating and fishing or simply sit on the shore and enjoy a picnic. 65 miles of trails are available to the public so hikes can be chosen based on a variety of lengths and difficulties. The San Diego river also runs through the property, and many of the trails go around or over it, which is a nice change of scenery compared to the Pacific Ocean. If guests find themselves wishing to extend their stay, the park has the option of reserving a campsite. It is advised for visitors to plan ahead, as the park requires that sites are reserved at least 48 hours in advance. 

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve – 16 miles away

The Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve has a collection of six trails that travel along the coast of San Diego, and four other trails that loop around the marsh. While these trails might be short, their views cannot be beaten and their close proximity to each other allows for visitors to hike multiple of the trails. Make sure to bring a bathing suit and surfboard as well, because the park sits on a beautiful beach that is open to the public.

Written by: Sara Kuhn