Hubbs Trail Tour at Agua Hedionda Lagoon

In Carlsbad, Agua Hedionda Lagoon is forty minutes north of downtown San Diego. The lagoon is over 400 acres and home to numerous plants and animals and a recreational playground for humans and leashed dogs!

Agua Hedionda Lagoon Google Map

There are several trails to choose from at the Agua Hedionda Lagoon. Today, we will explore the Hubbs Trail, situated closest to the Ocean at the northwestern portion of the lagoon.

Printout trails at Agua Hedionda Lagoon

Agua Hedionda Lagoon-Hubbs Trail

Dirt area beginning Hubbs Trail
It was the beginning of the trail at Garfield St.

Hubbs Garfield Street Trailhead Directions

This article continues my epic adventure, examining the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Discovery Center, which also included hiking the Discovery Center Trail. So for more in-depth information on the Discovery Center and all the other trails, please click on the link below.

—>Agua Hedionda Lagoon Discovery Center<—

Dirt trail plants Agua Hedionda Lagoon

Looking straight down the middle of the photo- the smokestack belongs to the Encina Power Station owned by NRG Energy, which uses the lagoon’s water to cool the power plant. The Encina Power Station is considered the “steward” of the lagoon and is in charge of dredging every 2 to 4 years.

As a result of this dredging (removal of sand and silt), the Agua Hedionda Lagoon is also used by two aquaculture businesses. These include the Carlsbad Aquafarm, which raises blue mussels, Pacific oysters, Ogo (edible seaweed), and the Hubbs-Seaworld Research Institute, which runs a white seabass hatchery.

Wild Radish Plant Agua Hedionda Lagoon
Wild radish is a non-native species.

The wild radish pictured above lives and dies in one year, and it is considered a habitat-threatening invasive species. 

Dredging Machine Agua Hedionda Lagoon

Agua Hedionda Lagoon Panoramic Picture

Did you notice the loud humming in the background and the silt in the water? The Encina Power Plant was dredging the lagoon today.

Agua Hedionda Lagoon Upper Trail

Before going down the main trail, let’s now look at the lagoon from up above. There are many plants up here to see, and the view is incredible!

Agua Hedionda Lagoon Bridge

Bush Sunflower Agua Hedionda Lagoon
Bush Sunflower-(native)
French Broom Agua Hedionda Lagoon
Agua Hedionda Lagoon Prickly Pear Cactus
Prickly Pear Cactus-(native)
Algerian Sea Lavender Agua Hedionda Lagoon
Algerian Sea Lavender-Statice (non-native)

Let’s head back and go toward the northeast and check out where the Hubbs-Seaworld Research Institute is.

Have I also mentioned that I would LOVE to work there?

Overlooking bench seating area Agua Hedionda Lagoon
What a great place to have a seat and look out onto the lagoon!

Agua Hedionda Lagoon upper trail

Hubbs Trail Dredging Machine Lagoon

As we are getting closer to the beginning of the trail, do you notice those black contraptions on the side of the cliff?

Black plastic sheets Solarization Project

According to the official website of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation, these thick sheets of plastics are being used for a solarization project headed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Carlsbad Strawberry Fields.

The project aims to remove non-native plant species, such as Algerian sea lavender, the hollentot-fig, and the wild Rrdish from local salt marshes, using the sun’s heat.

Studies have shown that increased soil temperatures and lack of sunlight have helped eliminate invasive species and their seed banks.

The solarization study began in December of 2017,  so fingers crossed!

Agua Hedionda Lagoon bluff

Agua Hedionda Lagoon Bluff flowers
Yarrow (white), Common Ice Plant, and Algerian Sea Lavender (purple)

Lagoon information sign black plastic solarization sheet

Agua Hedionda Lagoon Trail Regulation Sign

Trailhead sign information Agua Hedionda Lagoon

Check out all of these activities that are offered here at the lagoon!

Agau Hedionda Lagoon Dredger

Here is a peek at the dredging machine, and boy, is it loud!

Lower Hubbs Trail at Agua Hedionda Lagoon
Beginning Hubbs Trail down Lagoon

Fountain Grass Agua Hedionda Lagoon
Fountain Grass (non-native)
Wild Radish and Bush Sunflower dirt trail
Bush Sunflower and Wild Radish

hill stabilization ice plant growing inside

Here we have an ice plant taking over the retaining wall.

Fun Fact- The Hottentot-Fig, commonly referred as ‘ice-plant’ is a habitat threatening invasive species originally from South Africa. In the late 1800’s, California imported this plant as a way to stabilize the sand dunes and the dirt in between the railroad tracks. Later on, CalTrans did the same up along all of the freeways.

The fact is, the opposite is true; in other words, this plant adds to the erosion problem as well as inhibiting the growth of native plant populations.

bluff stabilization ice plant growing inside

Algerian Sea Lavender Agua Hedionda Lagoon

bench Hubbs Seaworld Research Institute

Another fantastic spot close to the Hubbs-Seaworld Research Institute provides relaxation and a spectacular view.

Hubbs Seaworld Research Institute White seabass growout pen

We are getting closer to Hubbs now.

Do you notice the piping in the lagoon leading to the platform offshore? Here is a holding pen for the older and larger White seabass to live in before being released into the wild.

According to the Hubbs Seaworld Research Institute, since 1986, over one million juvenile White seabass have been released into bays and nearshore coastal areas in southern Califonia. This facility is capable of producing over 350,000 juveniles each year!

White seabass grow out pen Agua Hedionda Lagoon

Agua Hedionda Lagoon mudflats with birds
Can you see all of the birds out on the mudflats?

Close up bird wading mudflats

Here we have a Snowy Egret hanging out on the mudflats at low tide. It just so happened to catch a fish while I was watching!

Close up bird wading mudflats lagoons

How did this heart form in the eelgrass?

Close up bird wading mudflats lagoons

In this direction, we can get another good look at the mudflats.

Outside Hubbs Seaworld Research Institute
Hubbs Seaworld Research Institute is on the other side of the fence.

What is around the corner?

Water Sports at Agua Hedionda Lagoon

Agua Hedionda Lagoon welcome/trail sign
Notice the very northeast marker is where watersport park is located.

The Agua Hedionda Lagoon outside section is not accessible to the midsection except by a water vessel such as a paddleboard or a kayak. As you can see, the path ends underneath this bridge. Here I have an example of where the two sections of the lagoon meet.

I had a mishap while filming, as my finger seemed to get in the way.

I love how this video shows the current going out because of the low tide, so I ignore the finger!

Paddle boarder under small bridge

Agua Hedionda Lagoon is considered a “passive recreational’ water park.

No swimming is allowed, and you may not anchor a boat. Still, in the northeastern part of the lagoon, many activities are offered at California Watersports: wave runners, waterskiing, tubing, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boats, wakeboarding, and boat rentals.

It is also essential to note that a ramp and picnic tables are available here.

For more information, please check out’s website.

Fishing is permitted along the shore but not by boat.

The average depth of the lagoon is 8-10 feet.

under bridge looking toward mid-lagoon

Right under the bridge in the distance is where you will find California Watersports.

View under bridge toward west lagoon

Heading Back Towards The Ocean

seaweed edge Agua Hedionda lagoon

Now it is time to walk back toward the coast.

Agua Hedionda Lagoon
I wonder if this seaweed here hinders the anglers who fish here?

What a beautiful sight to see the lagoon’s mouth fully open since water exchange between the Ocean and the lagoon is vital.

Agua Hedionda Lagoon

Agua Hedionda Lagoon

Another great spot to hang out and watch the lagoon’s current go out into the Ocean or vice versa.

Agua Hedionda Lagoon

Agua Hedionda Lagoon

At this vantage point, we look back at the lagoon before heading onto the bridge. Do you notice the beginning of the trail up on the hill to the right?

Agua Hedionda Lagoon

Agua Hedionda Lagoon

Directly across the street to the right is Tamarack Beach and Warm Water Jetty Beach to the left. Let’s look at the water from on top of the bridge.

Agua Hedionda Lagoon

Time to make our way back to the beginning! How did you enjoy the tour? I love it here so much as it brings back great memories of when I used to interview anglers.

Agua Hedionda Lagoon

Agua Hedionda Lagoon

Agua Hedionda Lagoon

It looks like someone is going fishing in a kayak.

Agua Hedionda Lagoon

One more look before we say goodbye!

Agua Hedionda Lagoon

End of the Tour

Thanks again for joining me on a tour of the Hubbs Trail at the Agua Hedionda Lagoon. As you can see, this is a unique place! I hope one day you can come and visit here in person! Hopefully, it will be on a day when there is no dredging going on, and it would be a, how do you say- a quieter experience.

Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below.

Until next time!



6 Replies to “Hubbs Trail Tour at Agua Hedionda Lagoon”

  1. I really like this website. I can tell it is so personal to you. I love the photographs, and plenty of them, showing the natural beauty of the lagoon. You are lucky to live somewhere so picturesque. Thank you for the info.

  2. Hi Colleen,
    I love your photos of the Hubs Park Trails. I coordinate the Preserve Calavera Monthly Newsletter and I was wondering if I could use one of your trail photos (with a credit to you). We a putting in a short article about the recent Carlsbad City Council decision on the trails so we wanted a photo to accompany the article.

    1. Hi Ellen. Yes, please feel free to use any images. I am very honored; thank you. I also have some photos from the back trails as well. Thank you so much for contacting me. Could you please send me a link? I can not wait to see your finished project!

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