The land for this world-famous Balboa Park was set aside in 1868. In 1910 a contest named the developing park in honor of Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the first European to see the Pacific Ocean. Dogs are allowed on trails throughout the 1400-acre park and there are also a pair of 24-hour dog parks: a large grassy area on Balboa Drive at El Prado, on the south side of Cabrillo Bridge, and at Morley Field on the east side of the park northwest of the tennis courts. Grape Street Park is designated as a dog-off-leash area during the following times: Monday-Friday, 7:30-10:00 a.m. and 4:00-9:00 p.m.; Saturday, Sunday and holidays, 9:00-11:00 a.m. and 4:00-9:00 p.m.
Just northeast of San Diego you can hike with your dog on the trails of Mission
Trails Regional Park. Dating back as far as 8,000 B.C., this was the land of the the
mighty Kumeyaay Nation with 18 communities spanning California and Mexico, 12
in San Diego County alone. Established only in 1974 on the site of Old Mission Dam,
the park’s nearly 6,000 natural acres recalls the land at the time of the first Spanish
settlement in San Diego Bay in 1542.
Dogs are welcome on the more than 40 miles of hard-packed trails here across
open chaparral and sage scrub. For short openers at Mission Trails consider the
Oak Grove Loop and Visitor Center Loop at the Visitor and Interpretive Center. Other
easy canine hikes include the Grassland Loop in East Fortuna and the Father
Junipero Serra Trail that visits all the habitats of the park including wetlands feeding
Mission Canyon and oak woodlands.
The star canine hike at Mission Trails is Cowles Mountain where several trails lead to
the highest point in San Diego – 1,591 feet. The 360-degree views can be had with
round trips ranging from three to five miles on the trail. A short detour to the
northwest leads to 1379-foot Pyles Peak.
Mission Trails Regional Park is located off Mission Gorge Road at the corners of
Father Junipero Serra Trail and Echo Dell Road.