In San Diego it’s easy to get lost in beach and sea, but just ~15 miles inland is a whole other world which is equally absorbing….in a whole other way. The spot is Mission Trails Regional Park and it’s one of my fav places for hiking in the entire city! When we stay at Santee Lakes we’re just a hop and a skip from the park and this week we headed out there for a change of scene and some outdoor fun.
At 5,800 acres Mission Trails is actually one of the largest urban parks in the United States. Originally traditional grounds of the Kumeyaay indians, it was transformed by building of the Old Mission Dam in the 1800’s (the very dam that supplied Mission San Diego De Alcalá…and pretty much founded the growth of modern-day San Diego), which is still preserved within the park boundaries today. The park encompasses rugged mountains, natural valleys and the Mission Gorge. For the outdoor-minded there are over 40 miles of hiking, as well as Lake Murray and equestrian areas.
Oh, and let’s not forget the fabulous Visitors Center which is well worth the visit all for itself. It showcases traditional Kumeyaay history, a wonderful overview of natural flora/fauna of the park and hosts exhibits as well as kids and adults programs. It also hosts free music concerts which are über-cool -> for a taste DO check out the Native American Flute Players on 2nd Sunday of each month.
Oh, there is just Sooooooo much to see and do!
But we come here mostly for the hiking. And most other folks do too. The most popular hike in the park is Cowle’s Mountain, which also happens to be the highest point in San Diego. During the week it’s a hot-spot for fitness freaks and on the week-end it becomes a family go-to. We like the hike….but….we prefer our privacy so we tend to go off-the-beaten path. Our fav mountain hike is Kwaay Paay and it’s the perfect morning walk for family and pooch topped-off with a perfect 360-degree view of San Diego.
We hit the trail after several days of rain with the sun still baking off the moisture from the ground. It’s a lovely, and shall we say vigorous, uphill walk through chaparral thickets and yucca through to the open views of the city. If you’re in the mood for an all-day affair you can drop-off half-way up and head west to the Old Dam and onwards to miles of unused trails from there.
Total urban escape just around the corner from downtown San Diego. Not a bad deal at all….:)
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