Cabrillo National Monument, California
From Ocean Beach south to Point Loma, an area encompassing a 4-mile stretch of land separating San Diego Bay from the Pacific Ocean, there exists an incredibly diverse ecosystem—crowning the southern terminus of this promontory is Cabrillo National Monument. Within the park you will find exhibits, a museum, a statue commemorating Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo (the first European to set foot on the west coast), a restored New England-style lighthouse, and several hiking trails—one being the 2-mile roundtrip Bayside Trail. To access the trail, begin at the Visitor Center—taking in the views of the statue first—and then hike uphill along the paved sidewalk to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. The crest where the lighthouse was built, rises over 400 feet above sea level—a seemingly ideal spot for a lighthouse with a serious flaw—fog. The light was abandoned in 1891, but the historic building is a highlight of the hike, especially when the wildflowers are blooming. After visiting the lighthouse, head back down the hillside to the signed Bayside Trail, following the road downhill where you will locate a sitting bench—then bear left on the graveled trail. You have now descended 370 feet through native coastal sage scrub—passing military remnants, interpretive panels, and sandstone caves. The trail ends at the barbed-wire fence guarding military land at the 1.1-mile mark—return along the same route.