Palm Canyon Trail in Balboa Park

Palm Canyon Balboa park
The Palm Canyon trail of Balboa Park is a bit of a secret. Most visitors focus their attention on the museums and gardens in Balboa Park. Little do they know that there is an easy, pleasant, and shady walking trail that skirts around the west side of the Park.

Hot and moist, the Canyon provides the perfect environment for lush growth. Tall palms give shade while undergrowth gives color. It's like a tropical oasis in the middle of San Diego!

Palm Canyon Balboa park
There two entryways into Palm Canyon. The most obvious one is on the south side of the parking lot near the Alcazar Garden (between numbers 33 and 34 on map). Walk along this wooden platform until it descends into the lower trail.

Palm Canyon Balboa park

The beginning of the trail is very civilized with a paved, concrete path and a park bench for resting.

Palm Canyon Balboa park

Palm Canyon Balboa park As you go further into the canyon, the path turns into a hard-packed dirt trail.

This canyon is 2 acres in size and has about 450 trees representing close to 60 species of palm trees.

Some of the palms were planted by Kate Session in the early 1900's!

A second entryway into the canyon is down a cobblestone staircase just west of the Organ Pavilion.

These stairs lead you to the upper trail of the canyon. You can stay on the upper trail, or go downhill to reach the lower trail.

Palm Canyon Balboa park

Palm Canyon Balboa park The lower trail dead ends to the archery range: don't go further! The upper trail has a small foot bridge and will take you to the exit.

By now you would have skirted around the west side of Balboa: past the Organ Pavilion, past the House of Pacific Relations, and exit at The Balboa Park Club (map location 22).

This trail was reconstructed by the California Conservation Corps in 2001. You can use the Palm Canyon trail to connect the Alcazar Garden to the Old Cactus Garden.

Location, Hours, Facilities

Palm Canyon
Balboa Park, map location 34

Open everyday.

Palm Canyon Balboa park
Keep an eye out for the giant Moreton Bay fig tree that
is near the wooden staircase leading down to the canyon.
Check the gnarly roots!