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60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: San Diego: Including North, South and East Counties Paperback – February 9, 2016
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For a hiking guide to even reach multiple editions it has to be pretty good and this one is deservedly a best seller within the genre. Part of that is due to the author's commitment to outdoor recreation both as an exercise and as a source of spiritual and psychological healing. This vision of what hiking can be informs much of the book and the selections the author offers are mainly chosen with the goal of reconnecting oneself with nature, even if time constraints mean you cannot travel to far from the large urban centers within the county. Another part is attempt to make this book accessible to everyone, from the casual walker to those who favor hard core hiking adventures. Although none of the trails in this book require an overnight, some of the day hikes are quite challenging. The hikes presented at the Elven Forest Recreational Reserve, outside of Escondido, exemplify the variety of trails found in this text. (I visited the preserve before writing this review and I have hiked many of the other trails described in the third edition which appeared in previous trail guides.) The two hikes from this preserve include a moderately gentle (albeit rocky in places) one mile nature walk, and a fairly strenuous 5.6 lollipop loop with substantial elevation gain and loss. And readers will easily find just about everything in between these types of hikes.
Nearly half of the hikes in this book are found in north county preserves, which isn't surprising because the relative lack of population density in the north inland region of San Diego County has left more opportunity for open space. But readers will also find a dozen hikes in the San Diego mountains where elevations reach 6,000 feet and cool pine forests offer a break from summer heat. I love all ten coastal trails described here, and particularly the ones around Torrey Pines State Reserve, arguably the most spectacular coastline in southern California. A smattering of trails from inland south county and the Anza Borrego Desert round out the book.
As for the routes themselves, descriptions are detailed and often include a personal touch involving the author's experiences on that particular trail. Some of the mileages in the third edition have been slightly revised from distances listed in earlier editions of this book. Maps remain adequate and easy to follow. If I have a complaint, it is that the synopsis of information about a trail appears usually on the second page of the write up and not the first, and driving directions to the trail head appear at the end of the route description, not at the front. These cavils pretty much apply to the entire 60 Hikes in 60 miles series. But then the whole series, in one sense, limits all that San Diego offers in the way of outdoor recreation. Only 60 hikes? But if you had to narrow it down to just 60, it would hard to beat the list MacGregor offers in the third edition of this guidebook.