Agua Hedionda Lagoon is forty minutes north of downtown San Diego, in the city of Carlsbad. The lagoon is over 400 acres and is the home to numerous plants and animals, as well as a recreational playground for humans and leashed dogs!
There are several trails to choose from at the Agua Hedionda Lagoon. Today, we are going to explore the Hubbs Trail which is situated closest to the Ocean at the northwestern portion of the lagoon.
Agua Hedionda Lagoon-Hubbs Trail
This article is a continuation of 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 here.
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, and Ogo (edible seaweed); as well as the Hubbs-Seaworld Research Institute that runs a White seabass hatchery.
The Wild Radish, pictured above lives and dies in one year. It is considered a habitat threatening invasive species.
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 on the main trail, let’s now take a look at the lagoon from up above. There are many plants up here to see, and the view is incredible!
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?
As we are getting closer to the beginning of the trail, do you notice those black contraptions on the side of the cliff?
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 goal of the project is to remove the non-native plant species, such as Algerian Sea Lavender and the Hollentot-Fig and the Wild Radish from local salt marshes, by using the heat of the sun.
Studies have shown that increased soil temperatures, as well as lack of sunlight, have helped in eliminating invasive species and their seed banks.
The solarization study began in December of 2017, so fingers crossed!
Check out all of these activities that are offered here at the lagoon!
Here is a peek at the dredging machine, and boy is it loud!
Lower Hubbs Trail at Agua Hedionda Lagoon
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.
Another fantastic spot close to the Hubbs-Seaworld Research Institute, which provides relaxation and a spectacular view to boot.
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 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!
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!
How did this heart form in the eelgrass?
In this direction, we can get another good look at the mudflats.
What is around the corner?
Water Sports at Agua Hedionda Lagoon
The outside section of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon 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 am ignoring the finger!
Agua Hedionda Lagoon is considered to be a “passive recreational’ water park.
No swimming is allowed, and you may not anchor a boat, but in the northeastern part of the lagoon, many activities are offered at California Watersports: such as wave runners, waterskiing, tubing, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boats, wakeboarding, and boat rentals.
It is essential also to note that there is a ramp available here as well as picnic tables.
For more information, please check out Carlsbadlagoon.com’s website.
Fishing is permitted along the shore, but not by boat.
The average depth of the lagoon is 8-10 feet.
Right under the bridge in the distance is where you will find California Watersports.
Heading Back Towards The Ocean
Now it is time to walk back toward the coast.
What a beautiful sight to see the mouth of the lagoon fully open since water exchange between the ocean and the lagoon is exceptionally vital.
Another great spot to hang out and watch the current of the lagoon go out into the Ocean or vice versa.
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?
Directly across from the street to the right is Tamarack Beach, and to the left is Warm Water Jetty Beach. Let’s have a look at the water from on top of the bridge.
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 when I use to interview anglers here.
It looks like someone is going fishing in a kayak.
One more look before we say goodbye!
End of the Tour
Well, 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 will be able to come and visit here in person! Hopefully, it will be on a day when there is no dredging going on. It would be a, how do you say- a quieter experience.
Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below.
Until next time!
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I have always had a deep-seated passion for the Ocean Environment which ultimately led me to receive a degree in Marine Biology. Living in the San Diego area for over 30 years, I have extensively explored the 70 miles of San Diego’s coastline, and I am here to share! Please use my website to your advantage and have a look around at all the wonders that the beaches of San Diego can offer you!