How to Hike the Secret Ho Chi Minh Trail San Diego

How to Hike the Secret Ho Chi Minh Trail San Diego

Ho Chi Minh trail is the most unique hiking trail we’ve found in San Diego. Everything from its landscape to its name makes you feel like you’re somewhere else in the world.

Ho Chi Minh Trail San Diego

This post may contain affiliate links, where we receive a small commission on sales of the products that are linked at no additional cost to you. All opinions are always our own. Read our full disclosure for more info. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Local Adventurer possible.

Last Updated: June 26, 2020

Secret Surf Trail - Ho Chi Minh Trail San Diego

About the Trail

The Ho Chi Minh Trail has many names. We’ve seen it referred to as the Secret Surf Trail, La Jolla Trail, and the Saigon Trail.

Tucked away on a residential street in La Jolla, the trail got its name in the 60s from UCSD surfers who used it as quicker access to the beach and named it after the famous trail in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

Distance: 0.4 miles (trail to beach one way)
Difficulty: Moderate
Best Time to Go: Year round

Getting to the Trailhead

The trailhead can be easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. You should see a sign between two fences (map at bottom). After making your way through the fence and down the trail, there will be a fork that follows a trail up a hill, and another down towards the beach.

The start of the Ho Chi Minh Trail San Diego - a dangerous and hidden surf trail to Black’s Beach and one of our favorite hikes in the area!
The start of the Ho Chi Minh Trail San Diego - a dangerous and hidden surf trail to Black’s Beach and one of our favorite hikes in the area!

Notes About the Trail

We took a quick detour up the hill to get a view from above. You can see the Torrey Pines Gliderport in the distance, and depending on the day, some people in the air.

Torrey Pines Gliderport and the Ho Chi Minh Trail San Diego.
Torrey Pines Gliderport in La Jolla San Diego.

After enjoying the view, we headed back down. At the fork, you have to cross over a wooden plank. If you’re uncertain if you can make it over, you can always step down into the ditch and walk through. After following the path a few more minutes, you start to see crazy sandstone formations and a deep ravine. Be careful as you make your way down this path. You’ll eventually come across a narrow section where you’ll have to shimmy your way down the natural steps. Right before you get to the beach, there will be a rope that you can use to get down.

A lot of the trail is made of sandstone, so it can be slippery and can crumble at any moment. It’s never recommended or safe to do the hike after rainfall because the sandstone is much weaker. Overall the hike isn’t long, but it requires some scrambling, and we would not recommended if you’re not comfortable with traversing slippery and uneven terrain. However, we never felt like we were in any real danger. We saw surfers doing it barefoot while holding their boards!

Ho Chi Minh Trail San Diego - a dangerous and hidden surf trail to Black’s Beach and one of our favorite hikes in the area!
Ho Chi Minh Trail San Diego - a dangerous and hidden surf trail to Black’s Beach. This is one of our favorite hikes in the area!
In San Diego, there is a dangerous and hidden surf trail - Ho Chi Minh Trail La Jolla.
In San Diego, there is a dangerous and hidden surf trail - Ho Chi Minh Trail San Diego.
Ho Chi Minh Trail San Diego - In San Diego, there is a dangerous and hidden surf trail.

Hiking on the Beach

At the beach, you have a couple of options. You can hang out where you came out, head north to the nudes at Black’s Beach, or walk south to the Mushroom House. We decided to make our way down to the Mushroom House for sunset. Afterwards, we followed a road back up rather than trying to traverse the trail in the dark.

Mushroom House in Blacks Beach La Jolla San Diego.

Map of the Ho Chi Minh Trail San Diego

Watch Our Vlog

Photography Tips

  • We shot all the photos with our Canon 5D Mark III and 35mm lens.
  • Our vlog was shot on a Canon G7X.
  • We always have our tripod or gorillapod handy in case there is an epic sunset.
  • Be sure to check for sunset times. We arrived 2.5 hours before sunset to give us plenty of time to explore the trail and find a spot to hangout for sunset.
  • Find a subject. Even during sunset, don’t just shoot out towards the ocean. Take advantage of the glow of the sun and the other unique subjects to shoot, like the Mushroom House.
  • If you plan on staying after sunset, bring a headlamp to easily find your way back up.

Have you found any unique hikes recently in your area?

Did you enjoy this post? Pin it for later

SEE MORE MORE SAN DIEGO

⟡⟡⟡⟡⟡

“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust

Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.

Local Adventurer on Pinterest Local Adventurer on Youtube

You might also love

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Thanks for all the info, do you know if there´s parking or we can park on the street next to the houses?

    1. Nothing official – I would just pay attention to road signs around there and be respectful!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close Menu