TRAILS


Join FREE Guided Walks on Saturdays.

TRAILS ARE OPEN DAWN TO DUSK.

San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve is located in north San Diego County, between Encinitas and Solana Beach, extending inland to Rancho Santa Fe.

Explore a 979-acre reserve, home to hundreds of species of unique plants and animals. Eight trails provide opportunities for hiking, running, bird watching, photography, and the thrill of discovery that comes with visiting natural places. Many trails have interpretive signage and trail guides.

San Elijo Lagoon is one of the largest coastal wetlands in San Diego. Trails wind through six plant communities, home to:

  • 400 species of plants
  • 300 species of birds (of which 65 have been documented to nest in the reserve).
  • 23 species of fishes
  • 20 species of reptiles and amphibians
  • 26 species of mammals 

The reserve is accessed by 8 trails. Easy to Moderate. Expect to walk about 1.5 hours on most trails, though you can combine them for longer walks.

ENCINITAS TRAILHEADS

SOLANA BEACH TRAILHEADS

Click here to download (PDF).

Nature Center La Orilla Sta Helena Sta Carina Sta Inez N. Solana Hills N. Rios Manchester

TRAIL GUIDELINES & ETIQUETTE

San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve is jointly managed by: 

  • State of California as a state ecological reserve
  • County of San Diego Parks & Recreation
    Rangers at the Nature Center: (760) 634-3026
  • San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy
    Office: (760) 436-3944

All wildlife and resources are fully protected.

ALLOWED

  • Walk, jog, or hike on established trails only.
  • Dogs must be on a leash at all times (leash no longer than 6 feet).
  • Equestrians are permitted on trails east of Interstate 5.
  • Litter harms; thank you for carrying out trash.
  • Dog waste must be disposed in provided trash cans at some trail heads.

Ensure your dog's safety, and protected wildlife, by reviewing Rules for Rover (PDF).

Remember that horses have right-of-way when sharing a trail with a pedestrian or runner. Learn about horses and trail etiquette at Safety Tips for Sharing Trails with Horses (PDF).

PROHIBITED

  • Bicycles, motorcycles, and any vehicles
  • Watercraft 
  • Collection of any plant, animal, or mineral
  • Wading, swimming, or diving
  • Feeding wildlife, or release of any animal 
  • Hunting or weapons
  • Smoking, fireworks, or camping/campfires

LINKS

San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve Brochure (PDF)
San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center
Guided Walks
Animal Guide
Plant Guide
Archaeology
History of the Reserve


  Hummingbird (Photo: H. Knufken)