By Audrey F. Baker
Yours is a garden requiring no tending, and one that is here solely for your enjoyment, enrichment and appreciation of nature.
It’s a place where the spirited flight of a first brood Sara Orangetip butterfly, making its way to nectar on mustards and filigree, intersects your steps. The journey of the “harbinger of spring” reminds you of the favorite plants you anticipate seeing.
A tapestry of color lays before you, sparkling in sunlight and displaying rich pigment in shade. The delicate, intricate form of Lace Fern catches your eye. Later, you exchange glances with a starry-eyed Audubon’s cottontail active among the thickets, and pause, wondering what other animals might be revealed by close observation.
Ahead, striking plutonic and volcanic rock escarpments crest the mountains, testifying to the magnificence and diversity crowning your garden, Mission Trails. Glimpses into nature are the special moments that reward every visit.
Our MTRP Trail Guide walks are an opportunity to learn more about natural Southern California, with its unique landscapes, habitats, local history, plant and animal life. The walks are free, interesting, fact-filled and geared to all ages and interests. Grab sturdy shoes, that comfortable hat, water bottle and sunscreen and hit the trail!
Morning walks are offered every Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday from 9:30 to 11 a.m. You’ll start from the park’s Visitor and Interpretive Center, 1 Father Junipero Serra Trail, San Carlos. The walk beginning from the Kumeyaay Lake Campground Entry Station, 2 Father Junipero Serra Trail, at the San Carlos-Santee border, gives a different perspective of the park and its diverse habitats. These walks are offered from 8:30 to 10 a.m. on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, and take in historic Old Mission Dam. We meet by the flagpoles.
Wildlife Tracking reveals the secret life of animals and brings insight into their survival techniques and habits. Tracking Team members assist in identifying and interpreting tracks, scat and habitats. Join us at 8:30 a.m., Saturday, March 7 in front of the Visitor Center for a two-hour tracking adventure.
Star Party Marvels is a sparkling evening of solar exploration with MTRP Resident Star Gazer George Varga. Under a late-rising, near-full moon, he’ll scan the skies identifying open clusters in Auriga, Gemini and Canis Major, the Orion Nebula, Little Bee Hive occupying high position near Jupiter and more! We observe from 6 – 9 p.m. on Saturday, March 7. (Rain/cloud cover cancel.) Meet us at the far end of the Kumeyaay Campground Day Use Parking Lot.
Discovery Table: Kumeyaay Games and Toys combines the fun of playing while learning the traditional games that amused generations of Native American children and prepared them for life in natural San Diego. Make your own Staves/Stick Dice game and try your skill at Ring and Pin, and more. See you Saturday, March 14 between 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. inside the Visitor Center.
La Mesa Walk ‘n Talk engages your senses while addressing your curiosity about nature. Walk picturesque environs with your MTRP trail guide and chat up today’s topic in nature, “What’s Blooming!” as you explore the luscious green spring brought by winter rains. On Tuesday, March 17 join us from 9 – 10:30 a.m. We start from the boat docks, Lake Murray, 5540 Kiowa Drive, La Mesa.
Bird Lake Murray with expert MTRP birders Jeanne Raimond and Millie Basden for avian adventure along scenic shores. Teaming with land and water species, both resident and migratory, the varied habitats provide a wealth of sightings. Bring binoculars and bird book if you’ve got ‘em. See you Saturday, March 21, 8 – 10 a.m. at the north side of the lake, Murray Park Drive and Belle Glade Ave., park in the dirt lot by baseball fields on the San Carlos side.
Family Discovery Walk, our essential “family time” experience, connects your little ones to nature. This interactive outing for parents and their children focuses on childhood enrichment and fun along the trail! Meet inside the Visitor Center on Sunday, March 22, 3 – 4:30 p.m.
Birding Basics, the 90-minute class conducted by Mission Trails Bird Guide Winona Sollock, teaches five simple techniques to identify birds “at a glance!” You’ll also pick up tips on bird field guide use (bringing one is optional). Class meets on Saturday, March 28 from 1 – 2:30 p.m. inside the Visitor Center.
Meanwhile, come on out and enjoy the park!
Visit mtrp.org for more information and our events calendar, or call 619-668-3281. Special walks can be arranged for any club, group, business or school by contacting Ranger Chris Axtmann at 619-668-2746 or at email@example.com.
—Audrey F. Baker is a trail guide at Mission Trails Regional Park.