Have a September to remember at Mission Trails Regional Park

By Audrey F. Baker

Inspiration and its partner imagination are key components of the human spirit. What better place to exercise these attributes than at Mission Trails Regional Park, where time spent in nature stimulates, motivates and improves your sense of well-being.

Surround yourself in the green world and benefit from interaction with the natural environment. Fresh air, breath-taking views, and the sensory experience of observing nature bring an enlarged appreciation for world around us. Under delights large and small, stress and tension melt away.

It’s a simple truth and a universal prescription for the young and the not so young: Nature enriches and exhilarates. Fill your September with its innumerable offerings.

Young Hikers Contemplate Pacific Tree Frogweb

Young hikers learn about the Pacific Tree frog in Mission Trails Park. (Photo by Audrey F. Baker)

Our MTRP Trail Guide walks are an opportunity to learn more about natural Southern California, with its unique landscapes, habitats, local history, and diverse plant and animal life. The walks are free, interesting, fact-filled, and geared to all ages and interests. Grab sturdy shoes, 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.

Wildlife Tracking reveals the secret lives of lesser-seen park animals and brings insight into their survival techniques and habits. Mission Trails Tracking Team members assist in identifying and interpreting tracks, scat, bedlays and habitats. Join in for two hours of dirt-time fun — wear long pants for close-up observation. 8:30 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 3 in front of the Visitor Center.

Discovery Table: Bird Beaks investigates a wide variety of beak shapes and sizes, their specialized features, and how a bird’s beak defines its wearer’s lifestyle. Test your skill matching beak to bird. Inside the Visitor Center, Saturday, Sept. 10 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Star Party illuminates under a moon one day past first quarter with Mars and Saturn setting in the southwest. See real star power as MTRP Resident Star Gazer George Varga scopes the Double Star Albireo, Lyra’s Ring Nebula (M57), Globular Cluster M22 and Pegasus’ M15, and more. See you Saturday, Sept. 10, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the far end of the Kumeyaay Campground Day Use Parking Lot. (Clouding/rain cancels.)

Birding Old Mission Dam with MTRP Resident Birders Jeanne Raimond and Millie Basden explores bird populations found at this national historic site. Area waters are a bird magnet during the dry season. We’ll look for resident and migratory species. Recommend binoculars and bird book. Saturday, Sept. 17, from 8 to 10 a.m. Meet at Old Mission Dam parking lot, 2 Father Junipero Serra Trail.

Summer Twilight Walk focuses on the nocturnal world of MTRP as dusk sets in and transitions into night. Join us for an enchanting Trail Guide-led evening walk in the park. Bring jacket and flashlight. From 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17. Meet at Bushy Hill parking lot, across from Kumeyaay Campground Entry Station.

La Mesa Walk ‘n Talk features scenic lakeshore environs as a backdrop for chatting up topics in nature with your MTRP Trail Guide. September’s theme is “Trees: Beautiful and Complex.” After touching on the many roles trees play in maintaining healthy environments, we’re off for a morning stroll. Tuesday, Sept. 20, from 9 to 10:30 a.m. We meet at the boat docks, Lake Murray, 5540 Kiowa Drive, La Mesa.

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 guide book optional.) Class meets on Saturday, Sept. 24, from 1 to 2:30 p.m., inside the Visitor Center.

Family Discovery Walk shares nature’s fall magic as a family experience. Our Trail Guide-hosted interactive walk focuses on fun, childhood enrichment, and memorable moments in nature. We’ll examine how deciduous trees lose leaves while stately oaks remain green, producing acorns, and view seasonal flowers that debut as migrant birds arrive. Sunday, Sept. 25, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. We meet inside the Visitor Center.

Visit 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 Meanwhile, come on out and enjoy the park!

—Audrey F. Baker is trail guide at Mission Trails Regional Park Reacher at

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