Scout writes: My family really enjoys exploring Balboa Park’s marked trail system, but wish they could get more data on the flora, fauna, architecture, and other points of interest along the way. Is there an app for that?
Cosmos: Even better than a bit of code for your mobile device, one of Balboa Park’s knowledgeable park rangers, Zana Kerr, offers a personal touch, taking folks on free guided tours of the trails the first Wednesday morning of the month.
The Wednesday Trail Walks begin at 10am at the Gateway sign on 6th Ave. and Upas where all five trails converge. The trail selected for the day is based on the interests and ambitions of those who gather for the tour, as the trails vary in terms of distance, slope, and terrain. Unlike some computer programs, Zana can be flexible in how she tailors the tour, being sensitive to those with special physical needs.
The walking pace is slow to moderate, with plenty of pit stops in the shade so Zana can highlight interesting vegetation, landscape features, and historical facts, or just to let hikers catch up. But be forewarned, all but the first trail are several miles long, which means the entire tour can take up to one and a half to two hours, so be sure your family brings plenty of water for you and them. Fortunately, Zana also lets folks know when they reach the next restroom.
While this year’s focus is on the trails that start on Sixth Avenue, beginning in early 2011, Zana will take hikers to the East Mesa of Balboa Park and the new marked trails around Morley Field and Golden Hill Park. So set your phone on vibrate and let your legs do the walking and Zana do the talking.