Today, I would like to take you on a San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center tour between Encinitas to the north and Solana Beach to the south in San Diego, North County. have always wanted to explore the San Elijo Lagoon, as seen from HWY 101 and off Interstate 5.
Come and join me, would you?
First off, here is a bit of information for you.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the County of San Diego Department of Parks oversees the lagoon.
San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve
Over 1000 acres with 7 miles of trails and eight trailheads available to walk around the San Elijo Lagoon.
Located within the reserve are six plant communities to explore:
- Coastal Strand
- Salt Marsh
- Brackish/Freshwater Marsh
- Coastal Sage Scrub
- Mixed Chapparal
LLet’snow have a look inside!
San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center
Established in 2009, the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center offers various interactive displays and historical facts.
According to the San Elijo Conservancy website, “”he 5,600-square foot building is Platinum-Certified by U.S. Green Building CCouncil’sLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). e two-story building is made from recycled materials and relies on solar energy, natural light, and ventilation.””This state-of-the-art center, which uses recycled water to irrigate the landscape, replaced the nature center that had opened in 1988.
Here is a closer look at some of the displays-
There are several examples of fragrant plants in this display which helps you get a good idea of what you are smelling while walking around the lagoon.
A Brief Look at the History of this Area
I was very interested in going over these historical displays.
Here you can learn very quickly all that has been happening in the area for hundreds of years!
Let’s have a look!
Time For A San Elijo Lagoon Nature Walk!
So today, we decided to walk around the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Trail Inner Loop, which is only .3 miles long.
Here you get to walk next to the inside of the lagoon and experience the salt marsh, brackish-freshwater, and coastal sage scrub environments.
Before we start our adventure, I have found some excellent resources to help you identify the plants and birds at the lagoon, compliments of the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy.
At our visit, crews were out in the lagoon dredging. There has consorted effort has been to restore the lagoon from the city and concerned private citizens.
Here are a few more examples of several birds seen here. Over 40% of North American bird species have been seen here!
The Amtrak train passes by the lagoon several times a day.
Do you notice the dredging machine in the background?
Seeing that San Elijo is an Ecological Reserve, it is essential to always stay on the designated paths.
Here we are entering the center of the Inner Loop Trail.
Here is an Owl Box on the reserve, located in the middle of the Inner Loop Trail.
We are now heading back to the Nature Center.
View From the Top of the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center
As we end our walk around the trail, let’s now look let’se second story of the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center!
Did you happen to notice the sign for Sunday Family Fun Day? I would also like to ntion that every first and third Saturday, the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center, offers free naturalist-guided tours from 10 am- 11 am!
Here is a pamphlet that I picked up at the nature center, which provides information about other programs that are held here.
While walking up the stairs to the second floor, these beautiful drawings of birds take us in.
Here is a bit of the artwork that the kids make on Family Fun Day. There is something specia when you can have fun learning!
I wish I could take a few more photos up here, but a swarm of bees started to surround me, so I thought it was a great idea to head back down!
End of the Day
So I hope you enjoyed a mini-tour of the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center and the .3-mile Nature Center Trail Loop!
The Nature Center is an excellent location to learn about the area’s early history and warea’simal and plant species are prominent in Southern California.
Over 90% of the coastal estuaries in Southern California are gone due to development. Because of this, restoration and pres vation of the remaining estuaries are essential.
It gives me such pride to see other San Diegans taking the initiative and effort to keep the Southern California coast as pristine as possible.
It has been a pleasure visiting the Coastal Lagoons and Nature Centers in San Diego because I have learned so much.
I hope that you have enjoyed our mini-tour and that you can come here in person one day!
Please leave any comments or questions you might have.
Until next time!
The Nature Collective- Formally Known as the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy
- San Diego Lagoons and Nature Centers
- Annie’s Canyon Trail at San Elijo Lagoon
- Beaches of Encinitas- A Photo Tour
- Best San Diego Hikes on the Coast
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!
10 Replies to “San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center- The Nature Collective”
I have driven up and down I-5 many, many times, on our summer vacations to SoCal. Each summer we visit the San Diego area to get out of the Arizona heat. I have always noticed this giant lagoon, but never really gave it a second thought. We are heading to Oceanside this summer and now I definitely want to take an afternoon and peruse through the nature center. I had no idea what it was all about. I love all the pictures you added, it looks beautiful.
Oh, I am so happy that you all will be going to Oceanside this summer. Check out these two blogs as they will help you with your activities. Enjoy your vacation! https://70milesofcoast.com/touring-10-beaches-north-county-san-diego, https://70milesofcoast.com/a-walk-around-buena-vista-lagoon. Thank you for visiting the site!
Love the post and site. I lived in San Diego in the early 90’s for 4 years and I miss the area, it’s such a great place to live! San Diego reminds me of Austraila more than any other place in the US (that’s a good thing). The San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center looks really nice as well and would be a great place to visit with friends and family. Thanks for sharing the info and spreading the word on how great San Diego is. 🙂
Wow, it is nice to hear that San Diego is similar to Australia as I have always wanted to go there! I bet the water is much warmer than here though! I have been having so much fun visiting all of the Nature Centers in San Diego. There is so much to do and learn at these establishments. I am glad that you enjoyed the site!
The San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center looks beautiful with the 7 miles of trails, it would be worth planning a day trip the grounds look really nice. Inside, the wild animals are interesting along with the historical display and all the information.
The maps for the trails have a lot of information as well and the view in the video is awesome. The pictures you have show just how great this place is.
Thanks for this detailed article, it would make a great day trip!
Thank you, Patsy! I was wondering if it was overkill with all the information, but I like it because it is like you are there. What I especially have like while visiting all of the Nature Centers in San Diego, is all of the volunteers. Everyone has been so helpful and loved to share information on the area. I hope one day you can come down to San Diego and visit soon! Thank you for stopping by the site!
I love your site! I really enjoy reading your articles with valuable info regarding places not too many people know or visit. Your amazing photos make me travel and dream… I enjoyed this mini-tour of the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center
The fact you mentioned, that over 90% of the coastal estuaries in Southern California are gone due to development is really sad. Luckily, there are people like you (who care) making different efforts to keep the Southern California coast as pristine as possible.
Keep up the great work!
Hi Vesna! It is quite sad that so many salt-marsh estuaries have been paved over! These areas are so critical to all the plants and animals, primarily as nursery grounds. Though my research, I have found that citizens have been trying to protect all of these wetlands for at least over a hundred years! Many philanthropists have given money to do just that. Thank you again for visiting!
The San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center looks and sounds like a place I need to see. I love anything that teaches and lets people explore how relaxing and beautiful nature can be. I am a regular visitor to similar places here in Texas. Very informative article and has made me add this to my need to visit list.
Thank you so much for commenting Kelly! It seems that we have much in common! I also love to learn about the history of the area as well as walking around and imagining what it was like 100’s of years ago. I sure hope that one day you can visit down here. We are not as muggy as Texas, well, usually 🙂