By Audrey F. Baker
Summer sun, fun and the great outdoors await you. ‘Tis the season for simple pleasures found only under the ambience of nature. Vacation days bring a relaxed attitude, opportunities to make new discoveries, and adventures to be gained by experiencing life outside of those four walls. At Mission Trails, we celebrate summer and embrace this special time of year with unique and inspiring activities, and we don’t forget those summer nights under sapphire skies. We invite you to experience the wealth of nature, and indulge in its wonders.
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, a 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.
Wildlife Tracking reveals the secret lives 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, Aug. 1 in front of the Visitor Center for a two-hour tracking adventure.
Discovery Table: Creatures in Camouflage explores the many forms of camouflage animals depend upon to thrive in nature. Our MTRP Trail Guides will introduce you to local “masters of disguise.” Come test your powers of observation. Drop by the Visitor Center Saturday, Aug. 8 between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and try your skill at matching an animal to its track.
Evening Bird Walk is your invitation to enjoy our special nighttime birding event led by MTRP Resident Birders Jeanne Raimond and Millie Basden. We’ll look for bird activity under transitioning skies and possibly view night-time species toward the end of the walk. Bring a bird book and binoculars if you have them. Sign up at 619-668-3281; there is a limit of 40 participants. On Saturday, Aug. 8 at 7 p.m., meet at the kiosk in the parking lot at Bushy Hill Drive and 2 Father Junipero Serra Trail, across from the Kumeyaay Campground Entry Station, for a two-hour excursion.
Summer Twilight Walk delves into the nocturnal world of MTRP as dusk sets in and converts into night. You’ll learn about the changes that occur under nighttime skies on a Trail Guide-led stroll in nature. Bring a jacket and flashlight. See you Saturday, Aug. 15 from 6:45 to 8:15 p.m. Meet at the kiosk in the parking lot at Bushy Hill Drive and 2 Father Junipero Serra Trail, across from the Kumeyaay Campground Entry Station.
La Mesa Walk and Talk combines scenic lakeshore environs with topics in nature. This month, join your Trail Guides as we chat up the topic “Snakes of San Diego County.” Sssssee you there on Tuesday, Aug. 18 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. We start from the boat docks at Lake Murray, 5540 Kiowa Drive, La Mesa.
Star Party shines on under a waxing first quarter moon as MTRP Star Gazer George Varga scopes in the Ring Nebula (M57) in Lyra, the Hercules Cluster (M13), Globular Cluster (M22) and the Lagoon Nebula (M8) in Sagittarius. Clouding or rain will cancel the event. See you Saturday, Aug. 22 from 7:30 to 10 p.m. at the far end of the Kumeyaay Campground Day Use Parking Lot, Mission Trails Regional Park, 2 Father Junipero Serra Trail.
Family Discovery Walk connects your little ones to nature and introduces its wonder, joy and beauty as a family experience. Our interactive outing focuses on childhood enrichment and fun! We depart from inside the Visitor Center at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 23 for 90 minutes in nature.
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 Saturday, Aug. 29 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. inside the Visitor Center.
Meanwhile, come on out and enjoy the park!
—Audrey F. Baker is a trail guide at Mission Trails Regional 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.