Are you looking for a relatively easy trail to go hiking on in San Diego? Well, look no further as I have found the perfect spot! The Batiquitos Lagoon is between Carlsbad and Encinitas. It is one of the last saltwater marshes in Southern California. Today I will be taking you on a tour of the 3.14-mile Batiquitos Lagoon Trail.
Nature Center-9am-3pm daily
Batiquitos Lagoon Trail-A Photo Tour
I was so happy to come here for the first time. I have always been curious about this lagoon as you can see it from the Interstate 5 freeway. Here are a couple of references for you. The first is a map of the lagoon as well as a list of all possible birds that are seen here. Finally, I have also added the Self-Guided Batiquitos Trail Map which highlights several sites.
Why don’t we have a little fun and follow the above Batiquitos Lagoon Trail Map?
Today we are going to start our walk off at the beginning of the lagoon where the Nature Center is located (see above address).
Can you see the dead cattails in the distance? Whenever you see cattails, you can assume that there is a freshwater source (urban-runoff), as cattails cannot survive in saltwater alone.
Here we have the bridges for the freeway, the highway as well as for the railroad. Each structure restricts the flow of water to the lagoon from the ocean.
Also, on each bridge, Swallow builds mud nest. In the Spring and Summer, swooping Swallows eating insects in the sky is a familiar site. These birds help tremendously to keep the number of flying insects down to a minimum.
Lagoon View-Nesting Site
Do you see the sand in the far distance? Here we have man-made sand nesting sites specially constructed for the endangered California Least Tern and the Western Snowy Plover. There are small stones and shells on the sand that the birds use to camouflage their nests within the sand.
Do you see the rugged hill to your left of the path? This tan sandstone area is called the Scripps Formation. It is believed to be over 45 million years old! If you were to take a closer look, you would see many fossils of shellfish. In fact, there are over 200 prehistoric sites recorded within one mile of this lagoon some dating back as far as 9000-3500 years ago left behind by California Paleo-Indians and more recently from the Kumeyaay (2300 to about 1800 A.D.).
Looking over at the hills, it is believed that they were cut by waves over 100,000 years ago when the sea level here was 400 feet higher. If you would like to learn some interesting information like this, please click on the Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation link above.
Here is a short video that I made that highlights the nesting site across the lagoon as well as giving you an idea about the surrounding hills so you can imagine yourself how the hills became flat.
A Riparian Habitat is defined as the cooperation between plant species and a water source specifically characterized by hydrophilic plants. Meaning, the plant has made adaptation which allows its roots to be submerged in water. Most commonly found here includes the Coyote Brush, and the Arroyo Willow; as well as the non-native species of Sweet Fennel, Castor Bean, and wild Radish.
The Eucalyptus tree, another non- native species, is very prominent here and is a favorite nesting site for the Great Blue Heron and both the Snowy and Great Egrets. The one problem with the Eucalyptus tree is that it excretes a powerful oil which prevents native species growing under and around them.
Coastal Salt Marsh
Here between the waters edge and the trail, we have an example of a coastal salt marsh community. Pickleweed is the most dominant salt tolerant plant found here.
It is a soft fleshy plant that looks like and tastes like pickles. In fact, early settlers would eat this plant and would also use it to make glass and soap due to its high alkaline salt content.
Because pickleweed is dense and close to the ground, it also provides excellent nesting habitat for the endangered Belding’s Savannah Sparrow.
Canary Island Date Palm Tree
If you do not mind, I would like to add a little something about this glorious tree that I came upon on the Batiquitos Lagoon Trail. The Canary Island Palm tree, it is a non-native species, but boy oh boy does it have a presence! Look how huge this creature is! I fell in love with this tree and plan on going back sometime soon to have a look at it again.
End of the Trail
Here we are at the end of the trail. At this point, you turn around and head back. Let’s first have a closer look.
This part of the lagoon trail is closed and is designated as a Natural Preserve for the Western Snowy Plover.
While making my way back, I took the opportunity to get a better look at all of the bird watching stations that are found intermediately on the trail.
What a fabulous place to go bird watching. In fact, over 60 species may be seen here at any one time.
Batiquitos Lagoon Nature Center
Before leaving, let’s go inside of the Nature Center and have a quick look.
Inside the Nature Center, there are copious amounts of information for you to look over as well as few pamphlets (like the above) that you may take with you while walking the Batiquitos Lagoon Trail.
Volunteers are more than happy to answer any questions that you may have, so please do not hesitate to ask! In fact, I asked about the native plants at the lagoon and was given a specially made book that I was able to study over before beginning my walk. All in all, I had a spectacular time walking the Batiquitos Lagoon Trail, and I highly recommend others to do the same as it is a relatively easy trek.
I hope you enjoyed our little adventure, and please leave any comments or questions that you may have below.
Until next time!
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!