View along N. Rios Trail



  • Rios to I-5: 1.16 miles
  • Rios to El Camino Real: 2.86 miles
  • Rios to Pole Road: .96 mile

Choose among several directions from the trailhead with a moderate descent on San Elijo Lagoon's south side. Walk into riparian woodlands and coastal sage scrub, with intimate views of the salt marsh, all hosting a wide variety of birds and plants.

Just east of the trailhead is a one-mile loop known as the Gemma Parks Interpretive Trail. Gemma Parks was a dedicated conservationist and this trail memorializes her energetic contributions to the lagoon. Along the trail are plant ID signs. Download the trail brochure for brief descriptions of the highlighted native plant species.

Just west of the trailhead is the Pole Road. It bends north paralleling the railroad tracks to the west. You can take the first north fork and walk to the Isthmus to watch migratory birds or continue on the Pole Road to the lagoon inlet for its views. Focus your binoculars and cameras for incredible opportunities to see osprey, cormorants on the power poles at the inlet, waterfowl, and the endangered Ridgway’s (Clapper) Rail that nest in this area.

Along the way you pass behind the Solana Beach Pump Station that sends our sewage under the lagoon to the treatment facility in Cardiff. You’ll pass by former settling ponds before the sewage was pumped underground, a historical feature showing wetland use in recent history. This trail also features the Conservancy’s most recent native vegetation project where the old digester tank was situated. At the end of the Pole Road you can see the foundation remnants of the former kelp processing plant.

Download Rios Avenue Trail Guide



Trails open daily from dawn to dusk
No restroom facilities on this trail

Google Map and Directions

Solana Beach (West of I-5)

    • I-5 to Lomas Santa Fe exit
    • West on Lomas Santa Fe
    • Right on Rios Avenue
    • Drive to end of Rios Avenue, with street parking available


  • Walk, jog, or hike on established trails only
  • Dogs on a leash no longer than 6 feet
  • Equestrians are permitted on trails east of Interstate 5


  • Off-trail access
  • Bicycles, motorcycles, and any vehicles
  • Recreational water use: no SUPs, kayaks, canoes, or swimming
  • Smoking, fireworks, or camping/campfires
  • Collection of any plant, animal, or mineral
  • Feeding wildlife, or release of any animal 
  • Fishing, hunting, or weapons
  • Litter and dog waste can harm wildlife. Please dispose properly in the provided receptacles.

San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve is owned and managed by: 


  Great Blue Heron (Photo: D. Ancinec)