Black Mountain Open Space Park is a new and evolving part of the city of San Diego’s Park and Recreation system. Much of the action centers around the trails starting from Hilltop Park. For a couple years, some of the trails on the north side of the park have been closed. In 2018 we are happy to report that one of the prime hikes in this area has reopened. This is our guide to hiking the Miner’s Ridge Loop trail.
Starting Point: Carmel Valley Rd, one half mile east from Black Mountain Rd
Length: 2.5 miles
Elevation: 450 ft gain and loss
Type: Short out-and-back with loop
The mine in Miner’s Ridge refers to an old arsenic mine that operate in the 1920s. The arsenic was used to make pesticide to kill boll weevil beetles that destroyed Southern cotton crops. However, as boll weevils developed a tolerance to arsenic demand died out and the mine closed in the late 1920s.
Arsenic remains in the area and in January 2017 Miner’s Ridge Loop was closed because of higher than acceptable traces of arsenic. Thankfully the problem has been taken care of and the trail is now once again open.
Miner’s Ridge Loop can be done as a 2.5-mile loop or a longer climb to the top of Black Mountain. This guide is just for the basic loop. We did this hike in a very hot day in the summer. We will wait until it cools down to go to the top of the mountain.
The Miner’s Ridge Loop trail is reached via a left turnoff from Carmel Valley Road. Note, because of a road divider if you are heading west on Carmel Mountain Rd from Rancho Bernardo or 4S Rancho you will need to go past the turnoff to Black Mountain Rd to make a U-turn. Either way the turnoff can be easy to miss.
The road will take you a short ways up the mountain to a well-marked parking lot. This parking lot provides access to Miner’s Ridge Loop trail and the new Trail for All People. The Trail for All People is a flat, 1100-foot trail designed to be wheelchair friendly.
From the parking lot you will head left from the kiosk to start on Miner’s Ridge Loop. The actual loop starts about 0.4 miles up the hill. There is a sign directing you to the left, but there is no reason you can not go to the right. Either way will loop back here.
Assuming you head to the right, you will continue climbing the mountain. You will get great views to Northern San Diego, all the way to the mountains of Cleveland National Forest. Below you to the east you can see some of the newest development on this side of the mountain. Combined with 4S Ranch it is hard to believe that as recently as the 1990s this entire area had almost no human development.
At not quite a mile, you will come to a turnoff for Glider Point Trail. This trail starts a little west off Miner’s Ridge Loop on Carmel Valley Rd. As its name implies this is the trail used by the many people that like to paraglide on Black Mountain.
Continuing up the hill for about a half mile and you will come to the turnoff to the top of Black Mountain. Walking to the top and back will add an additional two miles or so to the hike. As mentioned, we will be doing this added hike when the weather cools down. UPDATE: You can see this hike here.
For now, continue on Miner’s Ridge Loop. The trail will climb a little more and then start heading back downhill to the start. As you get back towards the turnoff there are a couple side trails you take to viewpoints of the valley below.
Overall this is a pretty solid family hike with a nice uphill that the kids handle without too much complaining. It is a great hike for when you want to try and get a solid hour of outdoor exercise. For more hikes in the area, designed for all skill sets, see our guide to Black Mountain Open Space Park.