by KATHY LOY | photos courtesy of San Dieguito River Park

Some parks in San Diego have familiar names like Balboa and Mission Bay, but one that is bigger and more accessible is the San Dieguito River Park.

Stretching from the ocean in Del Mar to Volcan Mountain just north of Julian, the San Dieguito River Park is a multi-use trail system for hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders. When complete, the river park will include a 55 mile linear trail system called the Coast to Crest Trail and an overall boundary that will cover 94,000 acres. Currently, sixty-five miles of trails are available to the public in various parts of the park including the North Shore Lake Hodges trail, Highland Valley trail, and Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve hiking trail (visit www.sdrp.org to find thirteen well described public use trails with printable trail maps).

The San Dieguito River Park currently encompasses some established recreational areas such as the Del Mar Fairgrounds, the Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve, and the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park. Also included are Lake Hodges and Lake Sutherland, where fishing and boating are permitted.

To help it reach completion, a Joint Powers Authority has been tasked with acquiring land, raising funds and providing recreational opportunities for the area. As funds become available, more segments are acquired, planned and implemented. Ultimately, three visitor centers are planned within the park – at the lagoon, in the central area, and the back country area. The land acquisition, trail construction, maintenance, interpretation and habitat restoration programs are all funded from grants and donations.

“When complete, the river park will include a 55 mile linear

trail system called the Coast to Crest Trail.”

The creation of the San Dieguito River Park is a long-term project that began in 1989. It will take many years before the project is complete. Generations of San Diegans can get involved with helping it grow. Volunteer opportunities are plentiful to help the San Dieguito River Park project reach its full potential. Individuals can help with one-time, weekly or monthly projects such as trail restoration, habitat restoration or volunteer patrolling. Check out the volunteer and activities & events tabs at www.sdrp.org for additional information.

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For additional information and geographical maps of the various projects, visit www.sdrp.org. This article utilized information from www.sdrp.org