Learn, Exercise & Enjoy The Day @ The San Elijo Nature Reserve!

By Courtney Daly-Pavone November 5, 2022

The San Elijo Nature Reserve was on my local bucket list for a long time. Well we finally made it, and boy I'm sure glad that we did! 

One of San Diego’s largest wetlands, this 979-acre reserve is for the most part a shallow-water estuary, formed where the Escondido and La Orilla Creeks meet the Pacific Ocean. 

We ventured out on one of the trails with our dog in tow on a Sunday afternoon. We stopped at the Nature Center first where we learned about local wildlife that call this picturesque wetland home. 

We also got to meet Franklin the tortoise. My dog Luke was especially enthusiastic to meet Franklin, but that's not that unusual for Luke. 

The San Elijo Nature Reserve has 7 miles of easy-to-moderate trails in addition to the moderate-to-strenuous Annie’s Canyon Trail (click here to read our review of Annie's Canyon Trail). 

The trails connect wetland habitats of coastal strand, salt marsh, freshwater/brackish marsh, riparian scrub, coastal sage scrub, and mixed chaparral. 

I always say this, but We are so lucky to live in San Diego! Picture perfect days are in ample supply here! The Fall breeze and warm sun made us feel we calm and happy. The trails are kid and dog friendly. The trail we took was flat the entire journey, so it's ideal for young kids, or if you just want a casual trail. We met friendly like minded nature enthusiasts along the way. This was so much better than walking on a treadmill at the gym.

There are scavenger hunts for the kids-TRACK Trails, a nature-themed scavenger hunts to win prizes online! 

Several trailheads can be accessed from residential areas in Solana Beach – stop by the Nature LEED Platinum-certified Nature Center to learn more and map your trek. 

San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve and Nature Center

2710 Manchester Avenue, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007
Park: (760) 634-3026
Reservations: (858) 565-3600, (877) 565-3600
Hours: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., daily

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