San Elijo Lagoon

Cardiff, California 92007

San Elijo Lagoon

San Elijo Lagoon Professional Review and Guide

"Great blue herons stand still as statues in the rippling water. Snowy egrets perform Tai Chi-like movements as they forage for supper. Cattails wave in the wind and the setting sun casts a golden hue as far as the eye can see. Another day ends on San Elijo Lagoon."

More San Elijo Lagoon Professional Reviews and Guides

"A great blue heron ambles on stilt-legs across the reed-fringed shallows, stabbing occasionally at subsurface morsels of food. Nearby, a willowy egret glides in for a perfect landing, scattering concentric ripples across the surface of the lagoon. Both birds seem oblivious to binocular-toting humans, who spy on them a comfortable distance away."

"San Elijo Lagoon feels a little more remote than its neighbor to the north, Batiquitos Lagoon. The path meanders very close to the actual lagoon and skirts along the sometimes muddy edge. It is dif .cult to feel like you are away from the city, but you can almost get a sense of solitude here. You wander among well-trodden paths that showcase the variety of wetland plants and birds, and if you take the time to imagine, you can picture yourself in a bygone era. Don’t close your eyes, though; the hum of Interstate 5 is constant and will immediately snap you out of your daydream. This, however, is life in Southern California. Unfortunately, you’re not likely to find a solitary stretch of beach or oceanside lagoon that doesn’t have a freeway running right by it south of Santa Barbara County, or at least not one where dogs are allowed. This is as close as it gets in San Diego County to water wildlands. The sound of the freeway is not so bad; this is a beautiful area, and the opportunity to observe migrating birds up close is well worth the short trip."

"San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve, stretching over a thousand acres, is a mixture of freshwater from Escondido and La Orilla Creeks and saltwater from the ocean. The estuary is a wildlife haven that supports large populations of migratory shorebirds and waterfowl. The wetland reserve has more than 7 miles of trails, making it easily accessible to hikers and birdwatchers. This hike begins on the south shore and follows the wetlands on the Gemma Parks Interpretive Trail. The shoreline path has informational panels about the lagoon’s ecological history. A side path climbs up secluded Holmwood Canyon between eroded sandstone cliffs. Hikes 73 and 74 may be combined for a 6-mile hike."

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San Elijo Lagoon Photos

Trail Information

Nearby City
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
100 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Easy to Moderate
Skill Level
Day hike
Additional Use
San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Preserve
Local Contacts
USGS Encinitas
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018