Ho Chi Minh Trail: a slippery San Diego hike to Black’s Beach

Ho Chi Minh Trail
The prize at the end of the Ho Chi Minh Trail – Black’s Beach, La Jolla

If you’re looking for a challenging hike with a rewarding view in the San Diego area, the Ho Chi Minh Trail in La Jolla is a good choice.

The trail is a little over a mile long one way and concludes at a beautiful beach with black sand and smooth stones.

Ho Chi Minh Trail


The journey to Black’s Beach via Ho Chi Minh begins at:

9883 La Jolla Farms Road
La Jolla, CA 92037

It’s a residential area so parking is free! 🙂

The trailhead is located between construction fences wrapped in green material.

Ho Chi Minh Trail hike

Ho Chi Minh Trail

The trek down this trail is entirely downward, so even if you’re not super fit (I certainly wasn’t), you probably won’t be huffing and puffing till the end.

However! This is still a challenging hike: it’s a sandy path with limited grip, so slipping is highly possible.

I wore Nike Free Runs, which worked out okay, but I did slip a good number of times.

One portion of the first half of the hike includes crossing a narrow wooden plank that’s several feet long. It’s something to be prepared for if you’re afraid of heights.

Fortunately, there are some tree branches close by that are helpful to grab on to when crossing the plank. Sidestepping also helps a lot! But if you’re uncomfortable crossing the plank, you can probably find a way to get across by going into the ditch and climbing back out.

Ho Chi Minh Trail
Photo by Ian V.

Despite the challenge of trying not to slip, the trail is amazing because you get to be up close and personal with beautiful sandstones. You’ll also find some bamboo along the way.

Ho Chi Minh Trail
This rope makes this look so adventurous! Lol. / Photo by Allyson E.

Closer to the end, you’ll have to descend some steps between two huge rocks…

…and walk on a narrow, slippery path, with only sandstone to hold onto.

To finally hit the beach, you’ll have to go down some steep rocks using a helpful rope on site. This part can be tricky if you’re not used to doing this (like me), and especially if there’s some water flowing down and you’re wearing an average pair of sneakers/shoes.

Ho Chi Minh Trail

Ho Chi Minh Trail
Photo by Allyson E.

Black’s Beach

The end of the Ho Chi Minh Trail is incredibly rewarding.

Ho Chi Minh Trail

My friends and I hiked so we could see the sunset, which is really the perfect time to complete the trail. It’s not too hot, and the beach is gorgeous in the warm light.

If you hike earlier, the beach is a great place to have lay down a mat and have a picnic and/or just explore.

Getting back to the trailhead

There are two ways to get back up:

  1. Trek back the way you came down
  2. Walk across the beach, climb some stairs to get to flat concrete road, and make your way back to the residential area.
Ho Chi Minh Trail
Dozens of stairs to get back up to the main street.

Facing the beach, my friends and I opted to go right to head back to the main road going up because it was getting dark and we had an adequate dose of slippery trail for the day.

By taking the route going right, we passed by a nude beach. We didn’t get the chance to check out what was on the left side, but there’s a way up to the main road that way as well.

Although reaching the beach marks the end of the hike, getting back up to the main road involves several dozen stairs, so be prepared to basically hike up again.

My friends and I decided to take an Uber back when we finally got up to street level. But if you’re up for an extra challenge and have additional energy, you can walk or jog back to La Jolla Farms Road.

I wouldn’t recommend doing the Ho Chi Minh Trail solo because it can be challenging at times, and it’s great to have a hand when you need help. However, if you’re not a fan of slipping a lot, this trail might not be a fun choice.

If you’re up for a good adventure, though, this is a beautiful hike that’s absolutely worth doing.

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