Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
250.00 ft (76.20 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
1.00 mi (1.61 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Ho Chi Minh Trail is a relatively strenuous and rewarding half-mile hike in northern San Diego County. In the 1960s, the surfers who frequented this trail named it after the trail in Vietnam. This hike takes you through sandstone cliffs and along a small creek before it ends at a secluded beach. The trail itself is narrow and crumbling, and it is somewhat of an obstacle course. Toward the beginning of the trail there is a wooden plank that allows you to walk across a small ravine. The trail leads through a narrow slot canyon about halfway down, and footholds have been carved into the sandstone to help with the grade. Shortly afterward you'll find a rope to hold on to as you climb down a rocky slope. The trail ends at a quiet, sandy beach known as Black's Beach. It's a great place to relax and go bird watching at the ocean.

This area has a unique geological makeup comprised of alluvial cliffs and sandy beaches. The sandstone cliffs that follow the coastline are unstable and constantly changing due to wind and water erosion. Because of the precarious nature of sandstone, it's best not to do this hike after a storm.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

Not Required

Pros

Beautiful views. Trail ends at the beach.

Cons

Fairly strenuous. Trail is eroded in places.

Trailhead Elevation

250.00 ft (76.20 m)

Features

Waterfalls
Bird watching
Wildlife
Big vistas
Geologically significant

Location

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Comments

m b
12/27/2021
As someone who has enjoyed and cared for this canyon my whole life, I would like to ask anyone reading this to PLEASE CONSIDER FINDING A DIFFERENT ADVENTURE. This route is being damaged by overuse and is frankly quite dangerous, and there are alternative ways to access the beach and cliffs nearby.

This trail leads down through Box Canyon to Black's Beach. It has long been used by local surfers, but in the past decade has become VERY popular from the internet.

The trail takes you down soft sandstone ledges above steep (>20 foot) drops, and it is very easy to slip and fall. As usage has grown, the rate of erosion in the canyon has greatly increased, and the trail is unrecognizable from its state a decade ago. Some sections are extremely steep and unstable. People need to be rescued from this canyon by emergency personnel every year--please do not add to the burden on our first responders!

I encourage hikers and beachgoers to consider alternative routes to help preserve this beautiful and fragile canyon: Black's Beach can be accessed via the paved road (with restrooms!) off of La Jolla Farms Road. The beautiful cliffs above Box Canyon can be accessed by way of the glider port, and there is a well-maintained trail there down to Black's. Torrey Pines reserve to the north has wonderful cliffside hikes and a staircase that can take hikers down to the beach as well.

If you are still intent on exploring Box Canyon, please be prepared with sturdy shoes with good traction. Go with a buddy. Do not go when it has recently rained. Don't leave any trash in this rare riparian ecosystem. And if you feel unsafe, TURN AROUND!
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