Ho Chi Minh Trail in San Diego is a unique canyon hike to a secluded beach. Also known as the Secret Surf Trail, here’s a guide for visiting.
How To Get To The Ho Chi Minh Trail
The Ho Chi Minh trail is located in the town of La Jolla, 20 minutes north of downtown San Diego.(9883 La Jolla Farms Rd, La Jolla CA 92037)
If you are based in Los Angeles, like us, the best way to reach the trail is to hire a car and drive. It’s just over 2 hours from the centre of L.A.
The start of the Ho Chi Minh Trail is just off a street in the upmarket, La Jolla Farms neighbourhood of La Jolla.
From the intersection of Torrey Pines Road and La Jolla Farms Drive, head southwest on La Jolla Farms Drive for 300 feet, then turn right onto La Jolla Farms Road.
Stay on this road for approximately one mile until you see the trailhead on your left. (There is a sign and two fences that separates the trail from the surrounding houses.)
There is usually plenty of free parking on the road. Just be aware that some of it is limited to 2 hours.
From San Diego International Airport, Ho Chi Minh Trail is 25 minutes north by car. It’s possible to hire a car at the airport or even share a Uber ride if you’re lucky.
Public transportation is available from the airport to the trailhead. However, it takes about an hour and half.
For those short on time, or that prefer everything to be organised for them, there are some awesome tours on Get Your Guide available to book in advance.
Ho Chi Minh Trail Entrance Fee
It is free to hike the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Ho Chi Minh Trail Opening Times
The Ho Chi Minh Trail is open all day, every day.
However I would strongly recommend against hiking the trail in the evening, as it can be extremely dangerous in the dark.
Best Time To Visit The Ho Chi Minh Trail
The best time to hike the trail is probably in the spring or autumn when the temperatures are cooler.
If you are visiting in the summer, your best bet is to hike the trail early morning, before the temperatures start to rise.
So be sure to bear this in mind when planning your San Diego itinerary!
Wear hiking shoes or shoes with good traction, as it can be slippery with the ultra fine sand and smooth steep rocks. (The sandstone gets extra slippery when wet, so it’s not advisable to hike this trail after it has rained.)
Also, wear a backpack for anything you want to carry, so that your hands are free.
Saying that, you will see surfers clambering down the trail with bare feet and surf boards! However, they have probably done this hike hundreds of times.
In addition, be aware that the beach at the end of the hike (Black’s Beach) is San Diego’s unofficial nude beach.
However, that said, there are plenty of clothed people and this hike only takes you to the start of the ‘clothing optional’ area.
What To Pack
Ho Chi Minh Trail History
The Ho Chi Minh trail is said to have been given this name by local surfers in the 1960s, who used this trail for quick access to the beach.
Ho Chi Minh was the president of North Vietnam during the Vietnam War and the original Ho Chi Minh trail played a key role in that war.
A network of trails and roadways, it carried tons of supplies through rugged mountain ranges and jungle to the North Vietnamese.
Given the history of the original Ho Chi Minh trail, many people would prefer this trail to called something else. So you will often hear it called the La Jolla Trail, the Saigon Trail as well as the Secret Surf Trail.
What To Expect On The Ho Chi Minh Trail
This unique trail down to the beach only covers about half a mile (0.8km) but it’s certainly not your normal beach path!
It covers pretty varied terrain and requires a few different techniques to complete it, including scrambling over rocks and manoeuvring through rocky canyons.
However, there are some spectacular views along the way and you have the reward of the beautiful, secluded Black’s Beach at the end of the trail. As well as a great sense of achievement!
The trail takes you through sandstone cliffs and along a small creek. It’s quite narrow and somewhat crumbling in places, with plenty of obstacles to overcome.
Including, at the start of the trail, a wooden plank that takes you over a small ravine. Followed by a stunning narrow slot canyon with footholds in the sandstone to help you through.
Then finally, you come to probably the most famous part of the trail, a rope attached to a tree to help you clamber down the last twenty feet or so of rocky slope to the beach.
Black’s Beach is a quiet beach attracting mainly surfers and nudists. The surfers head to the south of the beach for the best waves and the nudists tending to stay north of the Glider Port Trail.
So, you could spend some time enjoying the beach before returning via the Ho Chi Minh trail or one of the easier routes back up!
If you love a challenge and hiking unusual trails, then Ho Chi Minh Trail has to be on your San Diego bucket list.
Where To Stay In San Diego
Situated in La Jolla, California town centre, this boutique inn offers spacious Balinese inspired rooms with well-equipped kitchens, fireplaces and Pacific Ocean views.
It offers a daily deluxe continental breakfast. Free Wi-Fi, a flat-screen cable TV, an iPod docking station and a work desk are available in all of the unique rooms at Pantai Inn.
Rooms feature custom made wood-carved furnishings and Indonesian artwork.
The contemporary kitchens come with a microwave, a refrigerator and tea and coffee-making facilities and offer reverse osmosis filtered water and ice makers.
The Monsaraz San Diego, Tapestry Collection By Hilton features a fitness centre, garden, a terrace and restaurant in San Diego.
Featuring a bar, the 4-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with a private bathroom.
The accommodation offers a 24-hour front desk, an ATM and luggage storage for guests. Every room has a TV, and certain units at the hotel have a balcony.
Guests at The Monsaraz San Diego, Tapestry Collection By Hilton can enjoy an American breakfast.
Located 1.6 km away from San Diego’s scenic Shelter Island and San Diego International Airport, Sunrise Inn San Diego features guest rooms with free WiFi.
Free parking is provided to guests. Each room at this motel features a cable TV with film channels.
Rooms include a safety deposit box, a microwave and a mini-refrigerator.
A front desk is available from 7 am to 11:00 pm to assist guests of Sunrise Inn San Diego. Vending machines are available on site.
For more places to stay in San Diego, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com.