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 Walk
Girl Scout led hike
Rattlesnake Platform
Photo Excursion
Lagoon Bird Walk
Golden Eagles
Trail Patrol Volunteers
Feast or Famine
Lagoon Bird Count
David Jones


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


North San Diego Certified Farmers Market
Located at the Sikes Adobe (see directions to the Sunset Staging area in the left column).

Every Sunday:
10am ~ 3pm
(except if Easter, 4th of July, or Christmas).

Every Wednesday:
11:00am ~ 2:00pm
The "Lunch" Market
Quick Links...

Connect with Us!

SDRP website

Bernardo Bay Natural Area: (for access to East and South 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).

Del Dios Gorge/
Santa Fe Valley Staging Area:
On Del Dios Highway, across the street from the Cielo Shopping Center, is the Lemon Twist Stand.  The road to the staging area is within the Lemon Twist pullout, immediately south and west of the Lemon Twist stand. (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. 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).
from the links below:

A Nature-Centered St. Patrick's Day Hike
Click for larger map.
Saturday, March 17, 2012

9:00am ~ 1:00pm
Location:  San Dieguito Lagoon Trail, Del Mar
Donation:  Free.  New Conservancy members will receive a free t-shirt!

Join us for this family-friendly event at the Lagoon and WALK, BIKE, and TRIKE with your neighbors in support of one of San Diego's most celebrated natural treasures - the 55-mile San Dieguito River Park.
Show your true color - Green

Hands-on science and information booths.  Come learn about the special nature of the Lagoon and future plans for the River Park!
Decorate your spokes, scopes, and strollers and bring your favorite Leprechauns to see the wonderful birds on the calm lagoon water.  Come out for the 'Wear'n O' the Green' at the San Dieguito Lagoon.
For more details and to register for the event, visit .
Saturday, March 10, 2012
9:00am ~ 10:15am
Location:  San Andres Interpretive Kiosk at the San Dieguito Lagoon (see directions in left column).

This monthly walk will be led by a Park Ranger along the San Dieguito Lagoon heading East on the newly opened section of the Lagoon Trail.  Topics will include the lagoon restoration project, plant and wildlife identification and updates on current Ranger projects.  This time of year brings in a number of migratory birds.  Come discover the beauty of the Lagoon with us!
North Lake Hodges Trail
Sunday, March 18, 2012
9:00am ~ 11:00am
Location:  Bernardo Bay Natural Area (see directions in left column).

Kristen Weller, currently a junior at The Bishop's School, will be leading a guided tour on the North Shore Lake Hodges Trail as part of the community outreach aspect of her Girl Scout Gold Award Project.  Her project included a cactus wren habitat restoration and construction of a bench for the enjoyment of those who use the park.  Her project addresses the need to restore an area of native habitat for the cactus wren after the 2007 fires.

Topics to be discussed during the hike will include information about her project and the role of scout work in the River Park as well as details about the cactus wren and other animal and plant species native to the River Park.
Hike to the Rattlesnake Platform
Rattlesnake Viewing Platform
Sunday, March 25, 2012

9:00am ~ 12:00 noon
Del Dios Gorge/Santa Fe Valley Staging Area
(see directions in left column).

Join Ranger Bryan Ward on a hike through Del Dios Gorge.  This hike will discuss habitat restoration projects of the Park and the natural history of the area.  This approximate 4-mile round trip hike will visit the newly-constructed Rattlesnake Platform. Contact or (858) 674-2275 x14 to reserve your participation. 
Saturday, April 21, 2012
7:00am ~ 11:00am
Location:  Bernardo Bay Natural Area (see directions in left column).
Donation:  $20.00 per person

Spend a morning photographing at Lake Hodges.

Participants will meet at 7:00 a.m. at the Bernardo Bay Natural Area and will move slowly in a counter-clockwise direction on the Bernardo Bay Trail. This particular area was chosen because it will offer a wide range of subject matter including up-close flowers, insects, birds, boats, and water fowl, and further away subjects such as Bernardo Mountain and the expanse of Lake Hodges.  Most importantly, the light should be right.  If the group desires, we will also photograph in the Oaks on the Highland Valley Trail.

This photo excursion will provide an opportunity to move slowly through the San Dieguito River Park taking photographs. The group will be limited to 12, and everyone must bring their own camera. The group will be led by photographer Jim Coffee.  Jim has taught digital imaging basics at the community college level for 9 years.  He will be available to answer your photography questions.  Participants who would like to share their images with the public will be invited to have them included in a San Dieguito River Park photo gallery. Participants will be back to their vehicles by 11:00 a.m.

This Photo Excursion is offered by the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy.   
Saturday, March 24, 2012
9:00am ~ 10:30am
Location:  San Andres Interpretive Kiosk at San Dieguito Lagoon (see directions in left column).

Join Jeanie Anderson, San Diego Field Ornithologist 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!
by Tom Trowbridge, Wildlife Research Institute Board of Directors and SDRP Dust Devil.

The Wildlife Research Institute has been studying Golden Eagles in San Diego County for the past 24 years.  Before that, we have data from previous studies and egg collectors as far back as the late 1800s.  We have documented a decline in Golden Eagle populations of approximately 60 percent in the last 100 years, mostly due to habitat loss as the human developments expand.  Expansive open areas with suitable nesting sites and no human disturbance are becoming few and far between in San Diego County.  Golden Eagles are not like coyotes or ground squirrels or even deer; they are not seen in the suburbs and never will be.  Occasionally they will be seen in suburban wild land interface areas.

Look outside; have you seen a Golden Eagle lately?  Have you ever seen one?  Probably not, as there are only approximately 100 Golden Eagles in the 4,525 square miles of San Diego County.  There are less than 25 nests that produce chicks each year.  Golden Eagles build stick nests in isolated tall trees and more frequently on cliff faces.  Nests can be as large as 6 to 8 feet.  Some pairs use the same nest each year; others alternate between several nests in the same territory.  Golden Eagles usually lay 2 eggs that are incubated 41-45 days.  Eaglets fledge in 9-11 weeks.  They stick pretty close to the nest for approximately 30 days learning from adults.  However, 60-80% of young eagles don't reach adulthood of 5 years.

Adult Golden Eagles are truly the Masters of the Sky with a body length of 30-40 inches and a wing span of 6 to 7 feet.  They weigh in at 7-13 pounds.  Females are larger than males.  They are the top predators in the San Diego County air, and we have recorded kills as large as a fox.  Just watch the other birds and animals scatter when a Golden Eagle flies over.

The San Dieguito River Park, the Multiple Species Conservation Program, County Parks, US Forest Service and BLM can all make a positive difference in Eagle survival if we work together to minimize human intervention in Golden Eagle territory.

The San Dieguito River Park Volunteer Trail Patrol team is going strong.  We want to thank all of our current and new recruits for their time and dedication. Trail Patrollers assist Rangers in protecting the natural and cultural resources of the River Park and provide information and assistance to River Park trail users.  Our small Ranger staff would not be able to manage the River Park without the assistance of these critical volunteers.

The next time you see a Volunteer Trail Patroller, say hello!

Excerpt from What's Growing On - Winter 2005
by Jason Lopez, Resources and Trails Manager

Feast or Famine.  In the West, we have drought and floods. When it rains things grow, groundwater is plentiful, and wildlife is bountiful. When it does not rain, it is difficult to make things grow, water tables are low, and wildlife numbers decline.  But this year, maybe we can feast a little.

When planting for habitat restoration, our season is incredibly short, and keeping native species alive through the summer without regular irrigation is difficult, to say the least.  For example, the River Park has a habitat enhancement project on Bernardo Mountain.  To get to the site, one must travel over 2 miles on a dirt road.  The plants are south facing (hot), the site was covered in weeds, and there is obviously no irrigation.  But, this is where good populations of declining California gnatcatchers and Coast cactus wren are hanging out, so this is where we work.

A native landscape in your backyard, around a school, or next to a freeway provides some wildlife habitat and is very wise with regards to water usage, but a native plant project for the purpose of wildlife habitat has completely different considerations and benefits.  The work on Bernardo Mountain is focused on linking smaller habitat patches though weed control and planting and seeding projects.  To read more go to the SDRP website.
by Elayna Bryant, SDRP Intern

Did you know there are over 700 different bird species found in North America?  And did you know that over 200 of these species have been sighted at the San Dieguito Lagoon?  With all of these species, and an assortment that changes from month to month, there are plenty of new birds to be discovered at the Lagoon.  Monthly bird counts record when and where these birds are sighted each month.  All of this information, known as "species accounts," is then shared with the public on the San Dieguito River Park website.  This resource is accessible to all interested scientists and researchers, as well as the general public.

The San Dieguito Lagoon's monthly bird count was founded in January 2010 by Jayne Lesley, Mona Baumgartel, and Sue Smith.  As three experienced birders, they acquired permission to access all the areas of the Lagoon, some of which are still not open to the public.  These bird experts then recruited a team of volunteer birders from a previous monthly count conducted at the Penasquitos Lagoon for over 25 years (1984-2009), organized by expert birder Don Adams.
Due to its large size, the San Dieguito Lagoon is divided into five sections.  Birders split up into five groups, where each team documents every bird seen or heard.  Last month, I had the good fortune to team up with expert birders Don Adams and Susie Hedrick.  We counted all bird species found in the area south of the river and east of Hwy 5 extending to El Camino Real.  Don and Susie were extremely welcoming, provided a wealth of information, and were happy to share their expertise with me.  After counting the birds in our area, we gathered for lunch at the Del Mar Public Works and compiled our notes and data.  It was a wonderful experience, and I will now be joining this team of birders every month.  I walked away with an enhanced knowledge of specific species names and also how to depict species according to sex, breeding plumages, and vocalizations.

This group is always trying to recruit new birders; all levels of experience are welcome.  The count begins at 7:30 a.m. at the south end (dead end at the lagoon) of San Andres (off of Via de la Valle, east of Hwy 5) on the first Sunday of each month, except for January and July when it is on the second Sunday.  Bird watching is a rewarding, enjoyable, relaxing hobby, and I strongly encourage you to come join us at the monthly bird count!
David Jones
David Jones
David Jones comes from Plymouth, England, and retired from a lifetime in the computer industry, most recently with the Teradata Division of NCR Corporation in Rancho Bernardo.  He started volunteering at the Park in June 1998 and has been active both as a Dust Devil and a Trail Patroller ever since.  

David says, "I get a lot of satisfaction working in the River Park.  Unlike so much of what I did during my career, where tangible results often took years to materialize (if ever!), seeing immediate fruits of your labor doing trail building or maintenance work, or plants growing within months of being put in the ground, is a great joy.  I also enjoy the physical nature of the work, after a life spent in an office environment.  Getting a bit dirty at times all adds to the fun!"

Living in Carmel Valley, his Dust Devil work is now mostly in the Del Mar wetlands, although when he first volunteered he worked from the park headquarters mostly in the San Pasqual Valley and around Lake Hodges.  His trail patrol work is also largely at the western end of the Park, although he has patrolled all the trails, at one time or another, through to the eastern end of San Pasqual Valley and the Clevenger Canyon Trails.

"I really enjoy being outdoors and associating with the Park Rangers and volunteers who all appreciate the trails and the open air.  I cannot imagine a better way to help contribute something to the community, plus doing something for myself at the same time (i.e. getting some healthy outdoor exercise).  If you like the outdoors and have a few hours available each week, I can't think of a better way for you to spend that time than in our wonderful park.  Help us make it even better!"
Ranger Leana Bulay
Ranger Leana Bulay

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.