Batiquitos Lagoon is an easily accessible, well-maintained, and extremely popular trail that runs along the northern side of the tidal lagoon and adjacent salt marsh ecosystem. While you will never get a true sense of solitude here, it has great value as a convenient, relaxing respite from urban noise and stress.
Distance: 3.5 Miles
Elevation Gained: 250′
Critters: Herons, egrets, doves, seagulls, and a bewildering array of waterfowl.
Get there like this
, but be aware that there are a number of different access points for the trail.
I’ve resisted writing a blog post for Batiquitos Lagoon. For a long time, I viewed this as a convenience hike that didn’t have any remarkable or noteworthy features that justified a post. The lagoon is surrounded by heavy suburban development, including a golf course that abutts the middle section of the trail. The flora is largely non-native, with eucalyptus and palms dominating the natural salt-marsh plant community. Traffic noise is constant, as is the chatter of the local residents who use this trail for their walking and running routines.
And yet, I’ve found myself loving this hike more and more as time has gone on. I’ve probably done this hike more than any other hike in San Diego, mostly due to the convenience. But while novelty and exploration are large components of a great hike, there is a lot to be said for the kind of intimate familiarity that comes along with getting to know a trail well.
Where the lagoon lacks in grandeur, solitude, and splendor, it makes up for it by offering beauty in the small details. I’m often taken by a quiet enthusiasm and an easy peacefulness after noticing how the late afternoon carves long shadows in winter’s new grass. The same light catches in the reeds and bunch grasses that surround the lagoon, setting the foliage aglow in soft, radiant light. The tang of the ocean mixes with the cool, damp earthiness of the marsh, all topped off aromas emanating from the deep litter of drying eucalyptus leaves.
There’s an important lesson to be learned here. It’s not always about grandeur, difficulty, remoteness, or accomplishment, which is all great stuff. Sometimes, it’s about the small details that pull you out of yourself and make you aware that the world is full to the brim of small miracles. The same dramas are played out here every day. The birds are always singing; the eucalypts are always swaying in the breeze; the tide rolls in and rolls out again, and the egrets stand still waiting to catch an unwitting fish.
That is the way of things in the natural world. Even with its warts and faults, Batiquitos still preserves the natural world in a number of beautiful and unexpected ways. In its modest and unassuming way, Batiquitos Lagoon is a gem for hikers in North County.