Natural beauty in the heart of the city
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- Address: 5180 Tecolote Road San Diego, CA 92110 (Morena / Bay Park). This is the main entrance and location of the Visitor Center although there are other access points to the park (see map)
- Best For: Peaceful walking, bird watching, casual strolling, jogging
- Contact Information: Website, Visitor Center phone – (858) 581-9944
Nestled in a coastal canyon just north-east of the intersection of Interstate 5 and Interstate 8 is the Tecolote Canyon Natural Park. Despite being so near to these heavily trafficked freeways Tecolote Canyon is a peaceful, quiet place and a preserved open space in the heart of the city that presents visitors with a view to the native state of the area. Work is ongoing to protect this open space from pollution and development and planting native plants to further complete the picture of the native state of the land. The park was dedicated on April 1, 1978 after being purchased by the City of San Diego.
The canyon and park also mark the borders of some San Diego neighborhoods. Per the official website “It divides, by its southern half, the communities of Clairemont and Linda Vista and, by its northern half, the west and east areas of Clairemont.”
The Visitor Center on Tecolote Road has very nice restrooms to start or end your trip, as well as water fountains. Adjacent to the Visitor Center is an educational area with information about native plants and animals as well as the Kumeyaay Indians that inhabited the area long before Europeans arrived. There is ample parking at the Visitor Center for those arriving by vehicle.
The park has approximately 6.5 miles of trails that are suitable for walking, jogging, and mountain biking. I have not traversed all of the trails in the park; my typical route is an out and back trip for the first 1.25 miles of the trail that starts at the Visitor Center. This area is very flat and an easy and enjoyable stroll. It’s a bit of a challenge for the toddler that accompanies me but she’s a tough cookie and can typically handle it. After the first portion the trail becomes quite hilly (as it runs along the Tecolote Canyon Golf Course) and on many days is hot and sunny.
The University of San Diego sits on top of the south rim along the trail from the park entrance and on my visits there have been many collegians enjoying a jog. I have also encountered bird watchers and couples simply enjoying some time outdoors together. Although I have spotted many people in the canyon I have yet to find an owl – the animal the canyon and park (Tecolote) are named for. This is one of my favorite short hikes in San Diego primarily due to the proximity to my home. I also enjoy it for the secluded feel that the tall canyon walls give to those traversing the paths below.
I hope you have a good visit to Tecolote Canyon as well.
Here’s a map: