Hiking with The Canyoneers & THE NAT!

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I love exploring nature with the kids. My dad took us on hikes a lot when we were kids and it was a great way to learn more about nature and the history of San Diego.

When THE NAT emailed me this morning to share their free, guided nature hikes, I knew I had to share it with my readers!

Canyoneers are citizen scientists and volunteers who have had comprehensive training by Museum scientists and local experts on the natural history of the region. Check out the full schedule of hikes between now and June 2020, and hit the trails with the Canyoneers! Look for the Canyoneer sign at the designated parking area. We are always hoping to see wildlife. Please leave dogs at home and come enjoy nature.

The Canyoneers offer free, guided hikes on trails throughout San Diego County from September through June. The new season kicks off this Saturday, September 8 with an easy, 1-mile hike on the Kumeyaay Lake Trail at Mission Trails Regional Park, perfect for children, seniors, and birdwatchers. 

In total, the Canyoneers are offering 80 hikes. Most are offered on weekends—with a few midday hikes being offered on select dates—and cover diverse terrain, ranging from the coast to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and from the Tijuana Estuary to Palomar Mountain.

  • New hikes in Cleveland National Forest, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and several other locations including Gremlin Way Trailhead in Dictionary Hill Open Space Preserve. 
  • Once a month, the Canyoneers will lead a mid-week hike to locations that are often crowded on weekends due to limited access. Examples include Equestrian Trail in Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve (November 13) and Luelf Pond Preserve in Ramona (May 12). 
  • The desert hikes that are scheduled on consecutive days allow for camping opportunities, reducing the amount of driving necessary to get to both hikes. The desert at night is a special treat. 
  • Some trails offer shorter hikes with little elevation change—good for younger hikers—and some very flat and paved hikes that are perfect for strollers and anyone with a disability. One example is the Batiquitos Lagoon Gabbiano Trailhead (September 14). 
  • If the weather cooperates, there’s a chance to see waterfalls on Cibbets Flat to Kitchen Creek Falls hike (February 9) and the Green Valley Falls Loop (June 28). Green Valley Falls is an amazing hike and has pools of water that are fun to play in!
  • Hikes in some of the most interesting geological areas in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, including Fish Creek/Split Mountain (January 4) and Canyon Sin Nombre (February 8)—perfect for slot canyon fans. 

And if you have kids, there is a special program for students and classes too!

“Kids are most inspired by nature when they get outside and experience it for themselves—seeing a Monarch butterfly or a coast live oak in person helps bring to life what they’re learning in the classroom,” said Judy Gradwohl, president and CEO of the San Diego Natural History Museum. 

The program is made possible with support from Subaru of America, who is generously supporting the Canyoneer hiking program for the fourth year in a row.

The Museum aims to serve approximately 550 students this year through the program. Space is limited on the hikes. For more information or to book a hike, visit sdnat.org/schoolnaturehikes or call 619.255.0349. 

If you are looking for books about hiking and exploring the many awesome trails and cool nature spots in San Diego County here are two books I completely recommend!

This is my personal favorite and has TON of kid and family-friendly hikes!

Enjoy The Great Outdoors at Mission Trails Regional Park!

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Exploring the Dam is one of our favorite activities!

IMG_2796When I was a kid, my dad took my brother and I hiking a lot. We had all kinds of fun adventures, but I always loved Mission Trails Regional Park, specifically Old Mission Dam.

As Lil’ Man gets bigger, we are looking for more fun outdoor adventures. This last rain storm would be the catalyst for two days of big outdoor fun.

Friday, we loaded up and headed over to to dam. The past week of rain has really changed our usual path, so we got to explore some areas we’d never seen together.

IMG_2833It was a great chance for him to check out new trails, see erosion in action, splash in the cold stream water (there were a couple times we had to jump over streams to continue on, and well, we didn’t quite make it!), and see shells. There are a lot of little fresh water clams that make the river their home, as a result, we saw lots of shells!

We climbed, discovered, and navigated our way through the park for about 2 hours. IMG_2817By far the most exciting thing we found was an old, rusted car that had been shot at many, many times in the past. When you area four year old boy, nothing is more exciting than a rusty old car.

After stopping for snacks and water, we continued on to explore nature and hopefully find some cool rocks (another favorite pastime).IMG_2818

On Saturday, we headed over after lunch to the Visitor & Interpretive Center. It was closed, but we checked out the nature flora and the amphitheater. Then we did the loop around the center. It was a fun, easy walk (no pictures, we were too busy exploring).

It’s a quick 1 mile loop with a couple foot bridges and it overlooks the river, which is “raging” (as much as it can here) right now.

If you are in the San Diego area and haven’t been to Mission Trails Regional Park, you are missing out. There is tons of fun to be had and nature to explore. There are paths and trails for every skill level, and there is even a paved path along Father Junipero Serra Trail if you aren’t feeling adventurous, but still want to get outside. Parking is free, admission to the park and Visitor & Interpretive Center is free (but they do accept donations!). Most paths, except the paved road are not stroller friendly. Most paths are bike and/or Equine friendly, and leashed dogs are welcome.

And of course what better IMG_2835way to end a fun day of hiking, than with a little park yoga: