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 Trail Walk
Seafaring, Spear Points...
Trail Maintenance
Ysabel Creek Restoration
Lagoon Bird Walk
Honey Bees
Children's Nature Program
Volcan Trail Restoration
Volcan Foundation Dinner
Highland Valley Trail
Birds of Lake Hodges
Bird Breeding Season
Treatment Pond
CSUSM Field Trip
SDRP Mobile App
Sikes Valentine's Raffle
Volunteer Voice


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


Located at the Sikes Adobe (see directions to the Sunset Staging area in the left column).

Every Sunday:
10:30am ~ 3:30pm
(except if Easter, 4th of July, or Christmas).

Connect with Us!

SDRP website

Bernardo Bay Natural/Staging 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).

Crest Canyon: 
At the San Dieguito Lagoon, turn south from Jimmy Durante onto San Dieguito Dr., which will morph into Racetrack View Drive.  Crest Canyon is about 2/3 miles south from Jimmy Durante Blvd.

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).

Dust Devil Nature Trail

Staging Area:

From Del Mar Heights Road go north on El Camino Real.  The staging area will be at the edge of the San Dieguito Lagoon on your left.  You will continue past the staging area, making a U-turn at San Dieguito Road, then driving south on El Camino Real to the staging area (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).  


Highland Valley - 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 Drive Interpretive 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).  


Ramona Grasslands Staging Area:

From I-15 head east on Pomerado Road.  After about 1/4 mile, turn left onto Highland Valley Road.  Drive approximately 10.5 miles up Highland Valley Road to the Ramona Grasslands.  You will see the staging area and trail head on the north side of the road (click here for a map).  


Ysabel Creek Staging Area:

(for access to the middle of the San Pasqual Valley Trail system)


I-15 North towards Escondido, exit Pomerado Rd/West Rancho Bernardo Road. Take Pomerado Dr. East.  After 1/4 mile, turn left from Pomerado onto Highland Valley Road, continue on Highland Valley Road for 4 miles, take left on Bandy Canyon Road to Ysabel Creek Road. Trailhead is on the corner.


Sunset Staging Area:

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

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:

Date:  Saturday, March 9, 2013
Time:  9:00am - 10:15am
Location:  Dust Devil Nature Trail Staging Area (see directions in left column)

This easy, guided walk will be led by a Park Ranger along one of the newer trails at the coastal end of the River Park.  The Dust Devil Nature Trail offers great views of the southeastern area of the San Dieguito Lagoon.  Topics will include the lagoon restoration project, plant and wildlife identification, and updates on current Ranger projects.
Date:  Saturday, March 9, 2013
Time:  11:00am - 1:00pm
Location:  The San Diego Archaeological Center

The San Diego Archaeological Center's Visiting Scholar Day presentation by Dr. Todd Braje.  The discussion will cover the implications of recent research along the Pacific Coast of North America focusing primarily on technological evidence in the form of distinctive stemmed projectile points found in early sites around the Pacific Rim.

Dr. Braje is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at San Diego State University.  His dissertation 
Archaeology, Human Impacts, and Historical Ecology on San Miguel Island, California was followed up with a book published in 2010, Modern Oceans, Ancient Sites: Archaeology and Marine Conservation on San Miguel Island, California.  SDAC members enjoy this lecture as a benefit, $10 for non-members; this includes admission to the Museum and light refreshments.
Tools provided!
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Time:  8:00am - 11:00am
Location:  Highland Valley - Old Coach Staging Area (see directions in left column)

Join a Park Ranger for this month's volunteer trail maintenance event. Work on clearing brush from the trail and improving trail conditions!  Please bring drinking water, sun protection, and wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes.  Please RSVP to or (858) 674-2275 x14.
Help restore habitat at
Ysabel Creek
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Time:  8:00am - 11:00am
Location:  Ysabel Creek Staging Area (see directions in left column)

This event will consist of planting native plants, removing invasive plants to protect wildlife habitat, and maintaining new restoration areas.  Tools, training and work gloves provided!  Please bring drinking water, sun protection and wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes. Please RSVP to or (858) 674-2275 x14.
Date:  Saturday, March 16, 2013
Time:  8:00am - 10:00am
Location:  Crest Canyon (see directions in left column)

Join John Haddock, a member of the Buena Vista Audubon, to discover birds of Crest Canyon and the San Dieguito Lagoon and to learn more about the local ecosystem.
Date:  Sunday, March 17, 2013
Time:  1:00pm - 2:30pm
Location:  Santa Ysabel General Store and Backcountry Interpretive Center located at 30275 Highway 78 in Santa Ysabel, CA 92070

Come learn about the importance of honey bees and how you can help the local populations.  Healthy bee populations are critical for native plant and fruit tree pollination.  Lori Dekker, a retired school nurse, taught beekeeping thru Palomar Extension and was one of the founding members of the San Diego Beekeeping Society.

Lori currently runs her own business, California BeeWorks.  She manages 2 dozen hives in 3 apiaries in the Escondido area and sells honey and beeswax candles at local farmers markets.  Admission is free.
Date:  Sunday, March 17, 2013
Time:  Noon - 12:45pm
Location:  Santa Ysabel General Store and Backcountry Interpretive Center located at 30275 Highway 78 in Santa Ysabel, CA 92070

This free program is designed for children 6-12 years of age.  Spend time with the San Dieguito River Park Interpretive Ranger for several hands on activities to better understand and appreciate the local environment.  Parents are welcome to attend.  For more information contact Interpretive Ranger Leana Bulay at or (760) 716-1214.
Date:  Sunday, March 17, 2013
Time:  9:30am - 11:00am
Location:  Volcan Mountain Trailhead at 1209 Farmer Road, Julian

Come join County Park Rangers and volunteers as we work together to improve the trails for everyone to enjoy.  Please bring water, snacks, a hat (wide-brim preferred), sunscreen, work gloves, and sun glasses.  Please wear a long sleeve shirt and closed-toe shoes.  The rangers will bring the tools.

No reservations necessary unless you are coming with a group; then please let us know so that we have enough tools on hand.  Inclement weather will cancel the event.  Please contact 760-765-4098 for more information.

Date:  Saturday, March 23, 2013
Time:  4:30pm - 10:00pm
Location:  Camp Stevens is located at 1108 Banner Road, Julian, CA 92036, approximately 2 miles east of Julian.  Banner Road is Highway 78.

Come celebrate 25 years of keeping Volcan Mountain wild and help support the start of the next 25 years of conservation, nature education, and preservation of the iconic backdrop to Julian.  The Dinner Dance is always a fun reason to get dressed up, and wine, dine and dance with friends, old and new, while helping to provide much needed support for VMF's largest annual fundraiser.  As expected, the auction will offer an outstanding array of art, travel destinations, dining, local excursions, experiences, treasures and services, while guests enjoy samples of beer, wine and spirits poured by local purveyors.

Visit for more information, auction updates and to see how your support helps make Volcan Mountain Foundation conservation and nature education programs come alive. Reservations are $75 per person and are already proving quite popular.  Phone the VMF office at 760-765-2300 or e-mail at to confirm your reservations while still available.
Date:  Sunday, March 24, 2013
Time:  9:00am - 11:00am
Location:  Highland Valley Trail Staging Area (see directions in left column)

Join Ranger Bryan Ward on an easy, 4.2 mile out-and-back guided hike on the Highland Valley Trail, which was he first trail opened by the San Dieguito River Park back in 1993.  Learn about the natural and cultural history of the area while walking through coastal sage scrub, oak-shaded riparian, and grassland habitats.
Date:  Sunday, April 7, 2013
Time:  4:00pm - 5:00pm
Location:  Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead (see directions in left column)

Robert Harrington, a nature and bird photographer, will present a sample of his work and discuss 86 species of birds he has photographed at Lake Hodges over the past few years.  To preview his photography visit  Space is limited.  Please RSVP to or (858) 674-2275 x14.

by Ranger Bryan Ward 
March 15th to September 15th is an important part of the year here at the River Park- bird breeding season.  More specifically, this is the time of year when the endangered Least Bell's Vireo, endangered California Least Tern (starting in April), threatened Western Snowy Plover, threatened Coastal California Gnatcatcher (starting in February), and general riparian bird species nest.  The majority of bird species nest during this time period, so it requires that most construction activities in the River Park, most commonly trail building, must halt as a condition of our construction permits.

Plant removal, noise, and unexpected human activity, as a result of construction activities from earth moving and heavy equipment, can disrupt mating calls, warning calls, general vocalization, and normal bird breeding behavior or even cause birds to leave the area.  This may result in reproduction failure.  Killdeer, and some other bird species, seem to prefer nesting on flat, sparsely vegetated areas like a construction access road or a newly graded area.  It is not completely understood why this happens, although some biologists think it may be a defense mechanism to deter predators.  Mitigation measures, like creating a buffer zone around a nest or halting construction altogether, minimizes impact on the breeding birds.

The David Kreitzer Lake Hodges Bicycle/Pedestrian Bridge and the Del Dios Gorge Riparian Restoration Project are two examples of River Park projects that have been split into phases to accommodate bird nesting seasons.

One new construction project that will be affected by the upcoming bird breeding season is the trailside open-air classroom at the San Dieguito Lagoon.  All grading must be completed by March 15, and SDRP rangers and contracted biologists are monitoring for any early nesting activities during construction.  Once bird breeding season ends on September 15, construction can resume and should be finished by the end of this year.

The San Dieguito River Park works hard to preserve and protect native habitat for wildlife to thrive in.  While we would love to complete our construction projects sooner, it is a higher priority for the River Park to respect bird breeding season.
by Elayna Flanders
Elayna Flanders and Shelley Lawrence, biology graduate students at California State University San Marcos, have been actively researching the Lagoon's treatment ponds.  The girls received funding through an internship opportunity with the Water Resources Institute and US Department of Agriculture to research the ponds efficiency.  The treatment ponds were designed to naturally filter urban runoff from local residential and commercial development and to limit the amount of non-native seeds and fresh water entering the salt-water marsh habitat.  The runoff water enters the first of the treatment ponds through a culvert, and then meanders through the second, third, and fourth ponds before emptying out into the lagoon.

Elayna and Shelley have completed the first portion of their research testing the treatment ponds efficiency during dry summer months.  This data has shown an overall significant difference in pollutants found in treatment pond one versus treatment pond four.

The girls are excited to announce that they have received funding to continue research over the winter season!  They will now be further investigating the soil and water characteristics of the ponds by comparing previously collected and analyzed summer data to new winter data.  This will provide a more complete understanding of how the treatment ponds are affected by heavy water flow during the winter months.  Comparing the summer and winter data will indicate if the ponds are storing pollutants and preventing a harmful release into the newly restored wetland, even when under environmental stresses caused by excessive rainfall.  They will be sharing their final results with the park soon.
by Stephanie Neal & Sarah Nichols
It was a warm, sunny day in February when conservation biologist, Dr. William Kristan, took his California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) Landscape Ecology and Geographic Information System  (GIS) students on a field trip to the River Park.  They visited both the Lake Hodges and the Bernardo Bay areas of the park.  Students were asked to observe the surrounding vegetation and compare it to satellite GIS vegetation maps to determine their accuracy.  They also compared vegetation maps created before and after the fire that burned the area in 2007 for evidence of re-growth in the landscape. What's more, the students were educated on how to use GPS coordinates from a hand-held device to place themselves on the maps and analyze GPS accuracy.   
The purpose of the course is to analyze how land form and shape, such as streams, lakes, mountains, and urban development, impact the patterns of vegetation and animal species diversity. The students are also learning how to create different types of maps using a standard computer GIS program, a very useful tool to ecologists studying large areas.  The students will later be applying these skills and the information gathered at the river park to design a hypothetical wildlife reserve for a species within the regions of the park.  They are very enthusiastic and excited to be able to apply their knowledge to real problems active ecologists are trying to address.  Dr. Kristan's students will be back next month to visit other areas of the park before their final GIS mapping project.
The SDRP Mobile Web App is an on-the-go reference guide for the wildlife, plants, history and geography of the San Dieguito River Valley.  To access the app, Google 'sdrp mobile' or type '' into your mobile device's web browser.  If you are using an iPhone or iPad, the app can be downloaded to your device's home screen by pressing 'share' (bottom-center button on Safari browser) and selecting 'Add to Home Screen'.  Or if you prefer, the app can be run entirely within the device's browser.  No download necessary.  Optimized for touch-enabled devices, the app makes use of three gestures for navigation. They are:  tap (or click), scroll up/down, scroll left/right (or 'swipe').

On the home page, swipe the SDRP logo and tap the buttons to access the main sections.  They are wildlife, plants, explore and contact us.  The wildlife section classifies animals by group.  Each species is depicted in a photo accompanied by a descriptive caption.  Use horizontal 'swipe' to navigate.  Plants are grouped by ecological zone and displayed in a list view.  Use vertical scroll to navigate.

Explore combines historical and geographical features with a focus on maps.  You can:
  • obtain current GPS location on a map of the trail you're hiking
  • get driving directions to each of the Park's trailheads
  • view more detailed trail maps
  • view digital interpretive panels of the Lagoon Interpretive Walk, also accessible via QR code signs at the trail site
  • read about the history of the San Dieguito River Valley
Keep in mind that content is always being added.  So be sure to check back frequently.
Thank you to everyone who attended the Sikes Adobe Valentine's Teas this past month!  We are happy to announce our Valentine's Tea Raffle winners:
  • First Prize - Linn Fraley of Spring Valley won a basket including a chocolate fondue pot, candy molds, books on chocolate history, cup cake liners, sugar sprinkles and a jar of coconut candy mixture. 
  • Second Prize - Linda Kent of Poway won a basket including hand-made soaps, bath salts and candles from Clarity Soaps and Candles, South Park, San Diego, beeswax candles, a windmill pot holder, picture postcards and a watercolor note card from the Sikes Adobe.
  • Third Prize - Peggy Shepard of Carlsbad won a basket including ten chocolate lollipops in the shapes of hearts, roses and corsets from "Indigenous Chocolate," a featured vendor at the North San Diego Certified Farmer's Market (held at the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead every Sunday, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.), plus a candy mold.

    Special thanks to the Sunny Side Kitchen of Escondido for their wonderful cookies, served at all four of our Valentine's Teas!  Sunny Side Bakery is another featured vendor at the North San Diego Certified Farmer's Market.  Thank you, Kate!
Volunteer Voice
Last year was an exciting year for the interns at the San Dieguito River Park.  Elayna Flanders & Taylor Likins, two of our interpretive interns, had the opportunity to create and design an interpretive walk booklet for the Lagoon Boardwalk Trail.  In August 2012, an event was held to celebrate its completion, which included a guided hike and demonstrations on how to use the new San Dieguito River Park application for your smart phone.  Be sure to pick up a copy of the booklet at either end of the Lagoon Boardwalk Trail.

The upcoming year is going to be a busy one for the interns at the River Park.  Two more interns, Stephanie and Sarah, are now helping Elayna and Taylor.  They will have two main tasks to focus on for the earlier part of the year.

Their task is to design a monitoring program for the park and perform all the research necessary.  Their overarching goal is to monitor the change over time for some specific aspect of the park. It is still in the designing stage.  Be sure to check back for more information about their ongoing efforts.

They are also working on a passport program, similar to the passport programs offered by the National Park System.  The idea is to create a passport that children of all ages can use and allow them to "stamp their passport" at various locations around the park while engaging them in various educational activities.  It is going to be an exciting year at the River Park!

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.