San Diego Hikes: The Rolling Stone Trail

Rolling Stone Trail


In May 2015 the Rolling Stones came to San Diego to launch their tour at Petco Park.  A day before the concert Mick Jagger tweeted a picture with the caption “great day hiking near San Diego.”   Everyone in our neighborhood was excited because Black Mountain was clearly in the background.  So this is my chronicle of my efforts to retrace where Mick Jagger hikes in San Diego.  I have dubbed this hike The Rolling Stone trail.

Based on the picture it initially looked like Jagger hiked in Black Mountain Open Space Park.  This is right by our house and we have a complete guide to hiking that area.  The guess was it was on the new Lusardi Creek Loop Trail.  After 14 miles of hiking I realized this was not where he was.  Instead it was over somewhere in the newly developed Carmel Valley.

A quick Internet search revealed the Rolling Stones stayed at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar.  This super fancy luxury hotel has 4,000+ Ft. villas so it is perfect for rock stars.  This is a newly developed area of San Diego.  It includes lots of new hiking trails I have yet to explore.  So my goal was to start near my house and hike to the Grand Del Mar.  Hopefully along the way I would spot the exact point where Mick Jagger hiked. Rolling Stone Trail


Starting Point: Los Peñasquitos Ranch House, Canyonside Park Driveway, San Diego, CA 92129
Length: 7 to 8 miles
Elevation: mostly flat with a 200 foot climb
Type: One way

Straight to the Photo Spot

To save the suspense I will tell you straight off I found where the photos were taken.  If you want to go straight to the site it is on the side of Carmel Mountain Rd, right past Gallop Crest Ct.  That is the picture taken of him sitting on the fence (a great Rolling Stone song!).  The bridge picture was taken a little west  down Carmel Mountain Rd where the trail cuts under the road.  This trail leads directly to the Fairmont Grand.  Note there is no parking on the side of Carmel Mountain Rd.  The nearest parking is about a half a mile away on side streets or by the park at Duck Pond Lane near the trail to the waterfall.

My Journey on the Rolling Stone Trail

My hike is a little more epic.  It is a nearly 8-mile hike one-way.  I started at the east end of Penasquitos Canyon Preserve.  I followed our Penasquitos Canyon Waterfall hike to the waterfall.  At the waterfall, I crossed to the north side of the creek and walked about 100 yards back east to a trail that heads north out of the canyon.

Rolling Stone Trail
North of the waterfall you want to head left at the sign on the trail out of the canyon towards the powerlines

This trail heads up to a new area formally called Del Mar Mesa Preserve.  This is a popular area for mountain bikers so you need to be careful on this portion of the trail as it can get quite narrow.  It is about a one-mile hike uphill to a 4-way intersection of trails.

Rolling Stone Trail
Be careful of mountain bikes on this narrow trail out of the canyon
Rolling Stone Trail
When you reach the 4-way intersection turn left toward the powerline tower up the hill

You will want to turn left and head up the hill towards the powerline.  The powerline in the background of Jagger’s picture was actually how I knew where to go.  At the 4-way trail, there is also a murky pond of water (at least when I went). 

Rolling Stone Trail
Pond by the 4-way interestion

You climb the hill to the powerline tower.  The trail goes around the tower and then loops around some new housing developments.  Finally, it meets up with Carmel Mountain Rd.  Turn left as the trail follows Carmel Mountain Rd to the west.  The exact spot where Mick Jagger took his picture on the fence is about a half mile down. 

Rolling Stone Trail

The picture was taken right before you reach another power line tower.  The best way to tell the exact spot is by the white mark at the foot of the fence.  It was still there when I went.  Of course, you may want to bring along the actual picture for reference.  I had it memorized and snapped a photo.  I was close, but one picket off.

Rolling Stone Trail
I put my hiking poles one post off. Mick Jagger sat on the post with the white mark

To continue the hike simply follow the trail a short distance until it goes down and heads to the right, under Carmel Mountain Rd.  It was under this bridge where the second picture of Mick Jagger was taken.

Rolling Stone Trail
No Mick Jagger Today

This trail is called the Shaw Valley Trail.  It eventually meets up with the Fairmount Grand but after some exploration  I took a more direct route.  About a half mile down Shaw Valley trail I took a right on a trail by a sign that indicated Shaw Valley Trail and Equestrian Trail.  This trail heads a short distance before ending.  I turned left.

Rolling Stone Trail
It is not really strenuous but here you want to turn left off the Shaw Valley Trail towards the Grand Del Mar resort
Rolling Stone Trail
This is the trail off Shaw Valley towards the resort

Welcome to the Fairmont Grand Del Mar

At this point you will start to see the golf course at the Fairmont Grand.  I think this is called the Grand View Trail.  At this point you are headed directly towards the Fairmont Grand.  The hotel has graciously put up signs leading guests “back to the resort.”

Rolling Stone Trail
You will see the golf course below

At the bottom by the golf course, things were a little confusing.  It looks like this may be a work in progress.  You want to turn left towards the golf course.  Follow the trail up a short hill and once again follow signs to the resort.   

Rolling Stone Trail

Rolling Stone Trail
If in doubt follow signs back to the resort

You will enter the resort proper in the back by the equestrian center.  You want to turn right and go to the end of equestrian building where the path climbs to the resort parking lot.  This resort is one of the nicest in the country.

Rolling Stone Trail
You enter the resort in the back by the equestrian center the parking lot is on the right side of the center.

As you walk towards the main part of the resort you will notice the huge villas.  Head towards the main entrance of the resort where you meet up with Grand Del Mar Ct. until it becomes Grand Del Mar Way.  If you are hungry you can stop at Addison’s.  This is not only one of the best restaurants in San Diego, it is one of the best in the country.  Wine Enthusiast magazine put their wine list on their top 100 list.

Rolling Stone Trail
The resort villas fit for a rock star

The Fairmont Grand was rated by TripAdvisor as the number one luxury hotel in the U.S. in 2014 (at this writing it is #13).  Forbes magazine gave both the hotel and Addison’s restaurant a coveted 5-star rating.  In other words this place is fancy!

I headed out of the resort via Grand Del Mar Way.  They don’t like you walking on the road, but there is a path along the golf course that follows the road.  I met my ride by the entrance to the resort where it meets with Carmel Country Road.

Rolling Stone Trail

So that is my journey on the Rolling Stone trail.  Obviously, you can do a much shorter hike by starting near the resort.  This is a new area and many trails are still being built.  I plan to do some major hiking in this area so stay tuned.

Rolling Stone Trail


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