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One of the major goals of the San Dieguito River Park is to establish a continuous open space corridor throughout the length of the Park that preserves natural habitats, protects linkages for wildlife movement, and provides compatible areas for recreational opportunities.

In This Issue
Lagoon Birding
Lagoon Walk
Sante Fe Valley Trail
Source to Sea
Farmers Market
Festive Farmhouse
Sikes Docent Training
Trail Patrol Training
Church Volunteers
Two Orchids for SDRP
Science Project
Raptor Ridge
Volunteer's Voice
Until Next Time


 Here is a link to the San Dieguito River Park Activity Calendar.     


Quick Links...
  Bernardo Bay Natural Area: (for access to East Lake Hodges Trails and the Ribbon Bridge)Take I-15 to the West Bernardo Dr./Pomerado Rd. exit. Turn left onto West Bernardo Dr. Within a half mile you will come to the parking area on the right side of the road.(click here for map)

Highland Valley Trail Staging Area:

From I-15 head east on Pomerado Road about 1/4 mile.  Turn left onto Highland Valley Drive and then within about 300 feet turn right into the parking area. (click here for a map).  


Old Coach Trail Staging Area:
From I-15 head east on Pomerado Road.  After about 1/4 mile turn left onto Highland Valley Drive.  Drive 2.3 miles.  The Staging Area will be on your right.  12460 Highland Valley Road, San Diego.  (click here for a map)    


San Andres Kiosk: (for east end Lagoon Trail access)  End of San Andres Drive in Del Mar, off Via de la Valle, behind the Albertsons Shopping Center. (click here for a map).  


Sunset Staging Area:

(access for Ribbon Bridge, Sikes Adobe, Mule Hill Trail, North Shore Trail, Bernardo Mountain)  

Begin North Shore Trail and Mule Hill Trail here.   

Directions: Take I-15 to Via Rancho Parkway exit, and at the exit ramp turn right at the light. Go to the light at Sunset Drive (less than a 1/4 mile) and turn right onto Sunset Drive. North County Fair Mall is on the left side of the road. This is a cul-de-sac with plenty of parking in the gated staging/parking area on the left side of the street, or along the street and in the lot at the end of the cul-de-sac. (click here for a map)

Egret at the San Dieguito Lagoon
Egret at the San Dieguito Lagoon
Date: November 5th
Time: 8:00am-9:00am

Join Jeanie Anderson, San Diego Field Ornithologists and Photographer, and Ranger Leana Bulay to discover the birds of San Dieguito Lagoon and learn more about the Lagoon ecosystem. This is the perfect time of the year to watch the early arriving migratory birds returning to the Lagoon and the changing of the seasons!

Location: Interpretive kiosk at San Dieguito Lagoon: South of Via de la Valle at the end of San Andres Drive in Del Mar, behind the Albertson's Shopping Center. (See directions in left column).
Join a Ranger led Lagoon Talk Walk
Date: November 12th and December 10th
Time: 9:00am-10:15am

This monthly walk will be led by a Park Ranger along the San Dieguito Lagoon. Topics such as the restoration project, water quality and wildlife of the lagoon will be covered. The winter months brings in a number of migratory birds. Come discover the beauty of the Lagoon with us!

Location: Meet at the interpretive kiosk at San Dieguito Lagoon: South of Via de la Valle at the end of San Andres Drive in Del Mar, behind the Albertson's Shopping Center. (See 'San Andres Kiosk' directions in left column).
Hike the Sante Fe Valley Trail
with Ranger Leana Bulay
Date: November 13th
Time: 1:00pm-4:00pm

Join Interpretive Ranger Leana Bulay on a hike through Santa Fe Valley.  This walk will be focused on the natural history of the area. Contact or (858)674-2275 x14 to reserve your participation.

Location: Santa Fe Valley/Del Dios Gorge Staging Area: Off Del Dios Highway, at base of hill to the right just before the Lemon Twist fruit stand if headed east to Escondido.
 The Ramona Grasslands
The Ramona Grasslands
Date: November 20th
Time: 1:00pm-3:30pm

Join us for a 4-mile, round trip hike as we explore the Ramona Grasslands on the County's new trail. The 3,521-acre Ramona Grasslands Preserve surrounds Santa Maria Creek as it winds its way from Ramona down to Santa Ysabel Creek in San Pasqual Valley to form the San Dieguito River. 

The Preserve features a number of habitat types and is home to several rare and endangered species. The Grasslands also host many resident and migratory species of raptors each winter so bring your binoculars! Reservations are required. Please bring water and be prepared for changing weather. To RSVP:  Email or call (858) 674-2275 x12 for directions and to reserve a space.

Location: Ramona Grasslands Trailhead on Highland Valley Road, west of Ramona
Shannon Switzer
Date: November 20th
Time: 4:00pm-5:00pm
Location: Encinitas Community Center: 1140 Oakcrest Park Drive
Encinitas, CA 92024

Shannon Switzer, is a published conservation writer, award-winning photographer and one of National Geographic's 2011 Young Explorer Grantees.

Her most recent project was documenting the health of San Diego's watersheds and how they impact the ocean and the health of those who enjoy the ocean. Through the photographs she made during her project, Shannon will share the story of our watershed system. Come experience her photography of San Dieguito River Park and other of San Diego's breathtaking locations. Visit Girl Chases Globe or National Geographic to see more of her photography.

RSVP required to or (858)674-2275 x14, space is limited.
Date: Every Sunday
Time: November and December  10:00am-3:00pm
Location: Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead: 12655 Sunset Drive, Escondido, CA 92025. (See 'Sunset Staging Area' directions in left column.)

Stroll through sections featuring Local Artisans, Fresh Food and Neighborhood Merchants. Support your local community and contribute to the local economy. Visit with and buy from merchants, vendors and farmers committed to doing business the "old-fashioned" way, person-to-person and face-to-face.

Date: December 4th
Time: 1:00pm-3:00pm
Location: Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead: 12655 Sunset Drive, Escondido, CA 92025. (See directions to 'Sunset Staging Area'  in left column.)

Holiday decorating the old-fashioned way. Come to our "Festive Farmhouse" where we will be creating decorations which may have been used by the Pioneer Settlers of the San Pasqual Valley. $3.00 per person, $5.00 per family at the door.

Please RSVP by November 30th to Sikes Adobe Museum Manager at or call (760)432-8318

SDRP at the JayCee Parade
SDRP at the JayCee Parade
Date: December 10th
Time: 9:30am-12:00pm
Location: Down Broadway, from Escondido High School to Grape Day Park in downtown Escondido.

The San Dieguito River Park will have an entry in the 61st Annual Escondido Jaycees Christmas Parade, which is one of the longest running community events in San Diego County.  This will mark the second year in a row that the River Park participates in the parade.  The theme of this year's parade is "A Tribute to Heroes," and the River Park is calling on its heroes, our dedicated volunteers, to be in the parade!  Please contact Park Ranger Bryan Ward ( if you would like to join him in the parade. 

Bryan is also a member of the Escondido Jaycees, which is a non-profit service organization open to 18-40 year olds that was established in 1951 and has organized the Christmas Parade since.  For more information about the Escondido Jaycees or the Christmas Parade, visit their website.

The Historic Sikes Adobe
The Historic Sikes Adobe
Date:  Sunday, November 6th, 13th and 20th
Time: 1:00pm-3:00pm
Location: Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead: 12655 Sunset Drive, Escondido, CA 92025

Docent trainees will learn about the architectural history of the house, the history of the Sikes family, and the agricultural history of the late 1800's. They also learn tips and techniques for being a docent, and theory of interpretation. In return, trainees commit to leading docent tours for the public. Docents help convey what the pioneer farm experience in Southern California was like, using the Sikes Adobe Farmhouse as the stage.

In addition, we are looking for folks who have particular skills or are willing to learn those skills. The skills we have in mind include: Carpenters, Quilters, Gardeners, Bakers, Brick-layers, Embroiderers, Musicians, Farmers, Artists and Ropers! If you are interested in attending please call the Sikes Adobe at (760) 432-8318 or email Anne to reserve your place.
Trail Patrol Training in
Del Dios Gorge
Date: January 28th and 29th
Time: 9:00am-2:00pm
Location: Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead: 12655 Sunset Drive, Escondido, CA 92025

This event will have several Ranger led presentations, detailed Park information, a guest speaker, Lieutenant Joe Young, from the Oceanside Police Department presenting "Verbal Judo", equipment use training, and in the field scenario/role playing. There is no fee for this two day training, and refreshments will be provided. To register please call (858)674-2275 x 14 or email
Calvery Lutheran Church Volunteers

Installing erosion control
The 3rd annual Volunteer Event provided by the Calvary Lutheran Church of Solana Beach took place October 15th at the San Dieguito Lagoon. Over 30 volunteers came out to participate in habitat restoration on the south side of the river.

Volunteers installed erosion control check dams, removed non-native species and prepared holes for winter planting. After the event, several volunteers asked to return to install the plants in the upcoming months.

The River Park greatly appreciates all volunteers, and a special thanks to Calvary Lutheran Church for organizing this yearly event.

SDRP Headquarters
SDRP Headquarters

Both the San Dieguito River Park Headquarters and the David Kreitzer Lake Hodges Bicycle/Pedestrian Bridge are award winners!  Read more here.
Learning at the Big Back Yard program.

An exciting new pilot education program called "Exploring Our Sense of Place: My Big Backyard," developed and implemented by the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy and funded from Sempra Energy Foundation, is wrapping up.  The program consisted of a series of eight theme-based outdoor experiences for youth ages 9-11. A major part of My Big Backyard focused on attracting young participants who wouldn't normally use the Park.

The program was geared to underserved areas offering free tuition to participating families through the grant funding. The October 23rd Plant and Pollinator series hosted at the San Dieguito River Park office was a great event for all that attended. A program of butterflies, other pollinators, and plants was followed by a nature walk on the Highland Valley Trail. The series was concluded with the release of 15 live Monarch butterflies.

The San Diego Media Arts Center's Teen Producers Program was present to film the program. San Diego Media Tech also attended next Sunday's event at Sikes Adobe based on the Early Settlers of the region. "My Big Backyard" documentary will be available in early 2012.

By: Ranger Natalie Borchardt.

Studying Rove beetles
This semester, 11th and 12th grade students from the Bishop's School in La Jolla are using the newly restored San Dieguito Lagoon as an outdoor classroom for their Environmental Science course. Bishop's science teacher, Pam Reynolds, in collaboration with UCSB Marine Science Institute Ecologist, Stephen Schroeter, is facilitating the students research of the bledius or "rove" beetle. Although ecologists have long recognized the presence of these beetles in frequently exposed mudflats and salt pannes in the higher intertidal areas of coastal wetlands, there is an overall lack of information on how this organism interacts with the soil and other organisms, such as salt marsh plants and invertebrates.

The students hope to answer some of the questions that have been plaguing the local ecologists: how/why the beetle is beneficial, if at all, to the wetland system and why the beetle is present in some areas of the lagoon while absent in others. To understand the ecology of the beetle, the students have flagged test plots where they are currently researching, collecting data, soil samples, beetles and larvae through scientific methods. We are excited that the Lagoon Restoration has enabled this opportunity for learning and look forward to seeing the students findings.

Trail of the month, by Ranger Jake Gibbs
Though this part of the River Park requires some hiking to get to, the trip is well worth it. There are beautiful views of chaparral-covered mountain sides and lush riparian creek beds on the way, and this easy to moderate walk takes you out into the mouth of the San Pasqual Valley. 

Upon arrival to the base of Raptor Ridge, there is a shaded picnic area where one can stop for a rest beneath willow trees and listen to the serenity of nature. Depending upon how adventurous and willing you are to make the climb, you can continue up Raptor Ridge and be above the canopy of San Pasqual Valley below. This mountain side climb surrounds the trail user with beautiful stands of oak trees and native chaparral. If you pay attention to the scenery, you may even spot the oak tree growing directly out of a gigantic granite boulder half way up the hillside.

This climb can be a little strenuous, so make sure you are prepared for it and have plenty of water.  Upon reaching the top of Raptor Ridge, you'll be greeted with astonishing views of the San Pasqual Valley and the San Dieguito River corridor.  The trip out here takes some effort, but the views along the way are well worth it! Click here for a Raptor Ridge map.

Curb YOur Horse at Lake Hodges Dam
'Curb Your Horse' at Lake Hodges Dam
Brent Petrencsik rides both XC and on the road for CurbYourHorse, a North County-based cycling club. He recently published an article in CurbYourHorse about the numerous mountain bike trails in the Lake Hodges area of The San Dieguito River Park. He gives background on the Park, details of specific routes, maps and great action pictures of mountain bikers on SDRP trails. Click here to view the article (5 mg .pdf)

Volunteer's voice:
Cheryl & Jim Coffee
Cheryl & Jim Coffee
Cheryl and Jim Coffee have chosen the San Dieguito River Park and the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy as the focus of their volunteer efforts.  Cheryl was raised in Escondido.  Jim was raised near San Francisco.  They met and married in Oregon and have returned to Escondido to be with and to assist Cheryl's parents.

Cheryl and Jim are the Administrators this year for the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy's Exploring Our Sense of Place program.  The ESP program is 8 sessions of lectures/hikes that teach participants (Explorers) about the San Dieguito Watershed.  

The two of them travel the watershed capturing photographs of the River Park and activities that happen within the River Park.  These images (over 6,000 so far) are made available on-line to event participants and they are made available to the River Park entities for promotional use.

The San Dieguito River Park Riverscape is an important communications tool for the San Dieguito River Park.  The Coffee's spend hours each month assisting with the production of the Riverscape.

Cheryl and Jim appreciate the caliber of and enjoy associating with the employees, volunteers, and SDRP contributors.  So much has been accomplished!

Cheryl and Jim firmly believe that if all of the inhabitants of Planet Earth understood and loved their watersheds that the world would be a much better place.  And they think that the San Dieguito River Park is the best part of San Diego County.


All of us in the San Dieguito River Park office are working hard to improve your park and to make it available to you for recreation and education.  Please feel free to contact me with Riverscape comments or requests.

Leana Bulay, Interpretive Ranger