San Elijo Lagoon Trail – Gemma Parks Nature Trail
Distance: 2.2. Miles
Elevation gain: 50 feet
Time: 47 minutes
Critters: Quail, egrets, ducks
– Easy access to a nice lagoon.
– Too close to the freeway
San Elijo Lagoon sits just south of its better groomed sister, Batiquitos. I hike Batiquitos once a week due to its proximity to my job, the ease of access, and the fact that I can usually squeeze in 3.5 miles in under an hour. Batiquitos is definitely heavily developed, and yet, I would choose it nine times out of ten over San Elijo.
San Elijo is less developed, and it has a nice mix of chaparral, eucalyptus trees, and salt marsh habitat. However, the trail is within sight and sound of I-5 the entire way. In fact, the portion of the trail that connects the east and west basin skirts the 5 for a generous distance. Furthermore, there wouldn’t be an east and west basin if there wasn’t an artificial division created by the 5.
Now, I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t have freeways, and I certainly wouldn’t know where to relocate the busiest freeway in San Diego, especially for the sake of a little ol’ lagoon. However, San Elijo is a prime example of every ill created by over-development. The freeway creates a constant drone that distracts from the birds, the bees, and the breeze. Trains rumble past every twenty to thirty minutes. Buildings and other roads are omnipresent. The natural environment is compromised by pollution and invasive species like nasturtium and eucalyptus.
I once read that about 8% of San Diego’s original salt marsh habitats remain. What is left – Baitiquitos, San Elijo, Penasquitos, San Dieguito, Agua Hedionda, Buena Vista, and Mission Bay are all heavily overdeveloped. What is left is still beautiful, but it is a far cry from what these places could still be.
I know, I know. The property around these places, which includes communities like Carlsbad, Solana Beach, Del Mar, and Encinitas, commands an insane dollar figure. I suppose it was inevitable that these wetlands would fall victim to residential and commercial development. Still, I wish that those things didn’t come before the need to leave a few of these places pristine, since they are one of the unique aspects of San Diego.
Oh well. Wish in one hand and crap in the other. See which one fills up first.
May: 56.7 Miles
Year-to-Date: 564 Miles