7 Best Hill Workouts in San Diego

Running outside gives you fresh air, vitamin D and varying terrain, which is beneficial to your workout. So take your fitness routine to the next level by taking advantage of San Diego’s plethora of cliffs and hills.

When you choose to run up hills, it bumps up the intensity in your workouts to enhance your endurance, stamina and leg muscles. An incline also promotes the burning of more calories and is gentler on joints. If you’re unable to run or jog up hills, walking up hills is still very good for your mental and physical health.

To help you improve your workouts, we uncovered the seven best hill workouts in San Diego based on difficulty levels:

Easy to Moderate

  1. Moonlight Beach

    The beaches of Encinitas sit below the cliffs filled with homes that overlook them. The area is a great place for walking around (good to note that downtown Encinitas is quite dog-friendly, if you want Rover to tag along for some exercise) and the sidewalks, parallel with the beach, are great for a run. For a mild hill workout, park in Moonlight Beach’s parking lot, jog or run down the hill to the beach, head south along the water to D Street, then go up the staircase and make your way back to your car, to Moonlight Beach or to another spot downtown for a healthy meal.

  2. Bankers Hill

    If you want to incorporate a hill into a longer run, this is a great spot. Running along Balboa Park, you can enjoy the green landscape while staying close to stores, restaurants and crowds. For a moderate hill workout, jog or run north on the park’s path along Sixth Avenue and Balboa Drive, starting at Elm Street.

  3. West Grape Street

    Always busy with cars and pedestrians, this hilly street provides an excellent workout, along with a breathtaking view of the harbor and the sunset. For a short, yet challenging run, start at the the North Harbor Drive and West Grape Street intersection, then head east on Grape Street until you hit the end at Six Street. (It’s best to run when traffic is flowing, so you’re more likely to hit the green lights.)

More Challenging

  1. Convention Center Grand Staircase

    At the edge of downtown San Diego, across from Coronado Island, stands the San Diego Convention Center with its intimidating staircase. When the convention center isn’t having a big event, these 100 or so stairs can really get your butt in shape. Located directly across the street from the Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter Hotel, charge up the large staircase, walk down, then run up it at least one more time for a challenging workout.

  2. Hill Street

    If you’ve ever been to OB for the 4th of July or during a popular street fair, you’ve probably had to park on a hill located east of Sunset Cliffs Boulevard. You might despise the walk back to the car, but these hills make excellent workout opportunities. Near Sunset Cliffs, there is a long street with a steep incline that lucky owners of beautiful houses and manicured front lawns call home. For this challenging hill workout, start at the intersection of Sunset Cliffs Boulevard and Hill Street, then run east on Hill Street.

  3. Black’s Beach Lifeguard Access Road

    This beloved surf spot really makes the surfers work for it. This long, paved road with several steep sections is tucked in and between the bluffs of Torrey Pines. Start at the black access gate at the intersection of La Jolla Farms Road and Black Gold Road, then go through the gate and follow the access road to the beach, turn around and run up for an exhausting, yet exhilarating workout.

  4. Torrey Pines

    One of the most famous areas of San Diego, this location has picturesque views of the ocean, surrounding landscape and the Torrey Pines Golf Course. For this challenging hill workout, there are two options: 1) start at the Torrey Pines parking lot next to the golf course and run up the park road, then take your pick of paths to the top of the hill or 2) start at the north parking lot on North Torrey Pines Road and make your way up Torrey Pines Park Road.

Hills are just one feature you can incorporate into your regular fitness regimen. For more information and creative ideas regarding proper exercise, check out Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups’ articles.

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