Content provided by County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation
San Diego is a biodiversity hotspot – brimming with plants, trees and animals that are unique to the region. Efforts to protect these species are balanced by opportunities to expand recreation; visit any one of the more than a hundred parks and preserves that are managed by the County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation to explore trails, campgrounds, nature centers, historic sites, community gardens, splash pads, dog parks, and other special amenities.
Trailblaze in 2020
Discover more than 360 miles of trails from the coast to the valleys and the mountains to the desert. Some paths offer easy strolls on paved paths or along creeks – others meander through canyons and boulders to peaks nearing 6,000 feet!
Walk in the wild at Wilderness Gardens – a 737-acre preserve in Pala with 4 miles of relatively simple trails that pass by a ranger station and historic grist mill. Or find heaven in Valley Center’s Hellhole Canyon where an additional 13.5 miles of moderate-to-advanced trails offer breathtaking views of Palomar Mountain, the Pauma Valley and San Luis Rey River.
Head to the hills of East County to try the ‘Lakeside Trifecta’, which includes a moderate loop trail through Oakoasis County Park, a short-but-steep family-friendly climb to Stelzer Summit, and San Diego’s most demanding hike: The 10.6-mile round-trip El Captain trail – home of the County’s bi-annual Warrior Hike Challenge.
You can explore many trails virtually, before you head out, like Annie’s Canyon in Cardiff and Mt. Gower in Ramona. Take it a step further with 360-degree videos like this one from Volcan Mountain in Julian!
The first of its kind in San Diego, Sweetwater Bike Park is equipped with four jump lines (beginner to expert), a kid’s pump track, a skills zone, two flow trails, a perimeter trail, an entry plaza and several shaded picnic areas where daredevils can rest between rides. The park is open every day – weather permitting – from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. There is no cost to visit this all-ages park.
Get Your Hands Dirty
Urban farmers can rejoice in the opening of 200 new personal gardening plots – available At Sweetwater Community Garden. This 3-acre park offers 20 x 20 plots, along with elevated containers for ADA accessibility. It’s one of three resident-run gardens that shine a light on sustainable living in San Diego; others are located in central Penasquitos Canyon next to an historic ranch house, and Tijuana River Valley Regional Park where visitors can also trek (by foot, hike or horseback) along 22.5 miles of trail – some with binational views!
Dozens of volunteer tree planting activities for individuals and groups are planned every year; learn more in County Parks’ seasonal program guides or by contacting the volunteer coordinator directly.
Choose Your Own Adventure
Did you know there are programs for teens on Friday nights? Star parties on Saturdays? Animal encounters every weekend? A stocked fishing lake in Campo? Nature centers in Santa Ysabel and San Elijo? Dog parks in Borrego Springs and Fallbrook? Or special hikes, rides, backpacking and camping trips planned for and by women – all part of the County’s new Women in the Wild program?
There’s something for everyone in County parks and preserves. Embrace the upside of outside; start planning your next park adventure today, at sdparks.org.