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
Trail Patrol Training
Volunteers Wanted
Lagoon Walk
Sike Valentine's Day
SDRP 2011 Accomplishments
Lagoon Update
Trail of the Month
Nalani Webster
Until Next Time


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


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SDRP website

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 a 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).

Date:  January 28, 2012 and January 29, 2012
Time:  9:00am - 2:00pm both days
Location:  Please call for location.

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
Dates:  Ongoing

Become a San Dieguito River Park Volunteer
Become a San Dieguito River Park Volunteer
Expand your knowledge of the Park with our Rangers, experience behind the scenes locations, work outdoors, and enjoy one of our most valuable resources.  Join the Park Rangers for our numerous volunteer activities including:

Weekly Work Projects:
Every Tuesday and Friday,
8:00am - 12: 00pm (San Pasqual Valley) and 9:00am - 12:00pm (San Dieguito Lagoon).

Dust Devils:
Work with SDRP Rangers in San Pasqual Valley or San Dieguito Lagoon on habitat restoration, trail maintenance and plant propagation. 

Become a Dust Devil
Monthly Work Projects:

Trail Maintenance:
Second Sunday of every month,
8:00am - 11:00am (January 8, 2012).

Habitat Restoration:
Third Saturday of every month,
8:00am - 11:00am (January 21, 2012).

On-going Programs:
Training available for docent and Trail Patrol opportunities throughout the Park.  Please call (858)674-2275 x 14 or email for more information.  
Date:  Every Saturday in January (1/7, 1/14, 1/21, 1/28)
Time:  9:00am - 12:00 noon (recommend arriving at 8:30am)
See Raptors at HawkWatch
Ramona's Wildlife Research Institute, 18030 Highland Valley Road. 

From the South and West, take Highway 67 to Ramona and turn North (left turn) on Highland Valley Road for 2 miles and look for our sign, Wildlife Research Institute, Inc., on the right.

From the North, take Highway 78 to Ramona Main Street (Hwy 67) and turn right, proceed 3 miles to Highland Valley Road, turn north (right turn) for 2 miles and look for our sign, Wildlife Research Institute, Inc., on the right.

Come join Wildlife Research Institute staff and volunteers for a morning of raptor watching.

Observe both wintering and resident raptors!  You may see raptors such as Golden Eagles, Wintering Ferruginous Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, Prairie Falcons and Red-shouldered Hawks.  Wear sturdy shoes with layered clothing.  Bring binoculars if you have some.  Scopes will be provided for your use.  This is a free event, and no RSVP is required.  For more information go to:
Date:  January 12, 2012
Time:  9:00am - 10:15am
Learn from a Ranger at the San Dieguito Lagoon
  Meet at the interpretive kiosk at San Dieguito Lagoon, which is South of Via de la Valle at the end of San Andres Drive in Del Mar (behind the Albertson's Shopping Center).

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 bring in a number of migratory birds.  Come discover the beauty of the Lagoon with us!
Hiking the North Lake Hodges trail

Date:  Saturday, January 21, 2012
Time:  9:00am - 10:30 or 9:00am - 1:00pm
Location:  Bernardo Bay Natural Area staging area.  Take I-15 to West Bernardo Dr./Pomerado Road exit.  Turn left onto West Bernardo Drive.  Within a half mile, staging area will be on the right.

Two hikes will be lead depending upon public interest.  Bring your binoculars.  On Hike 1, view birds as you cross the new pedestrian bridge over the Lake Hodges and then explore Felicita Creek.  On Hike 2, cross the pedestrian bridge and climb Bernardo Mountain for a panoramic view of the lake with possible views to the ocean.

This is a San Diego Natural History Museum 'Canyoneer' Nature Walk.  More information here.
Date:  Sunday, January 22, 2012
Time:  1:00pm - 4:00pm
Location: West Vista Loop, Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve East.

Hike the west end of Santa Ysabel East
Join as we explore the west side of Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve East and get a glimpse of California's rancho past.  Santa Ysabel Creek meanders through the Preserve's meadows, dotted with ancient oaks and sycamores, and giant manzanita are found on the chaparral covered mesa with expansive views to the west.  Long-time San Dieguito River Park docent Mike Thacker will be our guide, with tales of the geology and Native American culture of the area.  This is a moderately-strenuous 3.6-mile hike and has an elevation gain of about 600'.  Please bring water and be prepared for changing weather.
Come out to enjoy the San Dieguito River Park and find out "what's new" with the Conservancy!  Bring your friends, too!  Reservations are required.
Please contact or (858) 755-6956 for directions and to reserve a space.
Date:  Saturday, February 11, 2012
Time:  To be announced.  Further details will be posted at
Location:  Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead, 12655 Sunset Dr., Escondido, CA 92025.

SAVE THE DATE!  Spend some time at the Sikes Adobe for Valentine's Day for the Second Annual "Valentine's Day Tea."
Enjoy the Victorian ambiance of the farmhouse while sipping tea with a friend or sweetheart.  Graciously served goodies accompany your cup of tea!  Cost $10.00 per person. 
David Kreitzer Lake Hodges Bicycle Pedestrian Bridge
*    The San Diego Architectural Foundation awarded an Orchid to the David Kreitzer Lake Hodges Bicycle/Pedestrian Bridge in the 2011 Orchids and Onions program.

*    The San Diego Architectural Foundation awarded a second Orchid to the River Park for construction of our administrative office.

The replacement San Dieguito River Park Administrative Office
*    The California State American Institute of Architects (AIA) provided an Architectural Merit Award to the San Dieguito River Park for the construction of an administrative office.  The award was one of twenty provided to projects throughout the state and one of only two awarded in San Diego County.

*    The Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO) provided an award titled "Phoenix Rising, Sikes Again" for reconstruction of the Sikes Adobe.

*    The City of San Diego Historical Resources Board provided an award titled "2011 Excellence in Historic Preservation" for reconstruction of the Sikes Adobe.

The Historic Sikes Adobe
*    The California State Office of Historic Preservation granted the 2011 Governor's Historic Preservation Award to the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead Restoration and Reconstruction.

San Dieguito Lagoon Wetland Restoration Project:
*    40,000 cubic feet of sand was excavated from the river channel and used for beach replenishment, allowing full ocean tides to nourish the restored wetlands for the first time in decades.

*    The construction phase of the project was determined complete by the California Coastal Commission.

The cantilever access to the bridge
*    Construction of the West Bernardo Drive Bike Path and Trail linking the Lake Hodges Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge and the Bernardo Bay Staging Area was completed and opened to the public on April 8, 2011.

*    Construction of the Highland Valley trail link and staging area to connect the San Dieguito River Park trail system to the City of Poway Old Coach trail was completed and opened to the public on
October 8, 2011.  This linkage provides access to the Trans County Regional Trail through the City of Poway trail system making it the first north/south connection between east/west regional trail systems in the County.

Hikers on the Old Coach Trail
*    A one mile long loop trail was completed on the northeast section of the Wetland Restoration Project.

Habitat Restoration:

*    Bernardo Mountain and West Bernardo  - Weed control on 35 acres on the south side of Bernardo Mountain was accomplished and 130 native species planted.  Combined with native plant seedlings of prior years, the treatment has repaired fire damage and produced flourishing habitat with California Gnatcatcher sightings.

*    East Gorge Habitat Management Area - 241 native plants installed along with Eucalyptus and weed control.

*    Santa Maria Creek Habitat Management Area - Weed control and native plant installation transformed a half acre site from invasive plants to native habitat.

Young Ones in the San Dieguito River Park Nursery
*    Sycamore Westridge Habitat Management Area - Weed control and planting of 125 1-gallon containers of native plants combined with distribution of 4.5 pounds of native seed collected from the Lake Hodges area restored fire damaged habitat resulting in confirmed gnatcatcher sightings.

*    San Dieguito Lagoon Restoration - Weed control and planting of 16,000 1-gallon containers of native plants, 400 direct transplants, and 30 pounds of native seed disbursed.  
by Ranger Natalie Borchardt
Watering newly planted native plants at the Lagoon
Watering newly planted native plants at the Lagoon
What are those Park Rangers, Park Volunteers and Work Crews doing off trail?
The SDRP rangers call winter "planting season."  We are busy installing plants, plants and more plants!  Native plants to be exact. We are planting several species of trees along the San Dieguito River and Santa Maria Creek, coastal sage scrub and chaparral plants close to the trails and throughout upland areas of the River Park, and salt marsh plants in and around the San Dieguito Lagoon.

The colorful flags you may see poking out of the ground and tied to existing habitat are temporary markers that outline our plant layout. Winter is the best time of year to establish native plants in open space areas.  The rains during the months of December, January, and February allow us to plant and grow natives on a large scale because the rainfall ensures that the plants will get regular water without much extra help from Park Staff and Volunteers.  If the plants are watered, strong and healthy going into summer, then we see a higher percentage of survival.

During the summer months, we water the new plants to sustain them through the dry spell.  Once our native plants have survived one summer, we can wean most of them off of supplemental water, and they are strong enough to survive on their own.  Habitat restoration is integral to protecting the San Dieguito River and its surrounding resources.  Native plants are good for humans and animals.

The plants beautify our Open Space Park, off set our carbon footprint, prevent weeds from growing, clean our water, and native birds and animals depend on them for food and shelter.

If you are interested in helping plant the more than 16,000 plants that we are currently putting in the ground between Del Mar and the San Pasqual Valley, please contact us before the "season" is over.     
Lagoon Trail and Boardwalk
by Ranger Bryan Ward

The Lagoon Trail and Boardwalk are currently the westernmost segments of the Coast to Crest Trail, located along the north side of the newly restored San Dieguito Lagoon.  These trails are mostly flat and wide, making them ideal for groups of birders, dog walkers (please leash your dog), or families with young kids learning to ride their bikes.  Parking and an interpretive kiosk can be found at the end of San Andres Dr. south of Via de la Valle. 

When you head west from the kiosk, you pass through the San Dieguito Urban Runoff Treatment Ponds.  The ponds naturally filter out contaminants from water coming from the nearby shopping center and neighborhoods before emptying into the lagoon.  An interpretive sign near the first bench provides more detail.  The trail then parallels the freeway.  Try to spot the kestrel that is usually seen in the trees on the freeway berm.  If you hear splashing in the water to your left, it may be an osprey diving in to catch a fish, or it may be a mullet jumping out of the water.

Enjoy walking at the San Dieguito Lagoon
Look up before going under the freeway and see the mud nests of the cliff swallows stuck in the lip.  On the other side of the freeway, the trail runs alongside the San Dieguito River and is surrounded by native golden bush.  Don't worry about being hit by a golf ball from the driving range - the golf balls you may see have rolled all the way to the trail.  When you reach the Boardwalk, an interpretive panel asks, "What's For Dinner?" and shows what some of the lagoon area birds and mammals eat.  Signs along the Boardwalk explain the importance of water for humans and the environment.  When you reach the end of the Boardwalk at Jimmy Durante Drive, look up at the power lines and count how many cormorants you can see.

If you decide to head east from the interpretive kiosk at the end of San Andres Drive, you will be walking on the newest section of the Lagoon Trail.  The upper trail is the Coast to Crest Trail and is open to hiking, biking, and horseback riding, but the lower trail is only open to hiking.  This lower trail brings you closer to the wetland and is ideal for birding, hence the name Salt Marsh Bird View Trail.  The Lagoon Trail currently ends before you reach Horse Park, but the SDRP Park Rangers are working on habitat restoration and trail construction to extend the trail east through Horse Park to El Camino Real.
Nalani Webster has volunteered with the SDRP for about 2 years.  She first began organizing and cataloguing the new library.  She is currently working with Museum Manger Anne Cooper to catalog objects in the Sikes collection.  She also enjoys helping with the outdoor programs at the San Dieguito Lagoon.

Nalani grew up in San Diego where she worked in libraries.  She spent most of her spare time exploring the mountains and desert.  After moving to Canada, for several years she worked as a research assistant studying wildlife and migratory birds.  Returning to San Diego, she continued her interests by taking natural history and archeology classes and by hiking the diverse habitat types of San Diego County.  As a mother of two boys, she was a Cub Scout leader and school volunteer.

"I became involved with SDRP when my husband and I were starting to see earthmovers in the San Dieguito River area just east of I-5.  We thought developers were at work.  Through the SDRP newsletter, we learned about the lagoon restoration.  We took a SDRP tour of the project.  After learning the mission of the River Park, I wanted to support it and was happy to find a volunteer opportunity where I could use my skills and experience.  I enjoy the great group of people at SDRP who are working hard to fulfill an extraordinary vision."
Volunteer Nalani Webster (left) and Interpretive Ranger Leana Bulay (right)
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@ or (858)674-2275 x14.

Interpretive Ranger and Riverscape Editor, Leana Bulay.