By JENNIFER MORRISSEY
Have family and friends coming to town this holiday season? We have outing ideas for you!
Explore the stunning, 14,000-square-foot Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP) Visitor & Interpretive Center, which includes educational exhibits, films, a library, gift shop and an expansive terrace with a stunning view of Mission Gorge.
Each Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m., you can take a free, guided nature walk with Mission Trails’ volunteer trail guides. Learn about the park’s history, fauna, geology and wildlife on these 90-minute walks. Meet for the walks in the Visitor Center lobby.
Families with children of all ages can go on one of our monthly Family Discovery Walks— this month’s takes place on Sunday, Dec. 22 at 3 p.m. These walks help children and youth discover the wonder and beauty of nature. The trails used are easy, but have uneven surfaces so be sure to wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes and bring along water. A hat and sunscreen are also recommended. The walks are free and open to the public, with no reservations required, but cancelled if raining.
Earlier in the afternoon on Sunday, Dec. 22 from 1-3 p.m., hear a free “Ladies of the Flute” San Diego Native American Flute Players performance in the Visitor Center Theater.
Also on Sunday, Dec. 22, MTRP Ranger Andrew Miller will lead a 90-minute nature walk at the park’s northernmost property, West Sycamore. This area encompasses 1,128 acres and includes seven miles of trails to be explored by hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding. Learn about the native plants and wildlife commonly found in this area of the park. Meet at 8 a.m. at the West Sycamore Staging Area, at the very east end of Stonebridge Parkway in Scripps Ranch.
Please note that the MTRP Visitor Center will be closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day, but its parking lot and restrooms will be open, both closing at 5 p.m. Learn about all of the events being offered around the holidays at mtrp.org/events, and we wish you a safe and enjoyable holiday and wonderful New Year.
Art for the Park
On view at the Visitor Center through Jan. 3 is “Art for the Park,” an exhibition of artworks by some of the MTRP Art Program’s most popular artists. The works will be priced for gift giving, with half of the artwork sales supporting the park through the MTRP Foundation.
Park visitors of all ages are encouraged to discover the connection between the great outdoors and the creative spirit of our regional artists, which includes a wealth of talented painters, photographers, illustrators, and artisans who celebrate the natural environment.
Art for the Park will showcase works by nine artists at the MTRP Visitor Center in a variety of mediums from acrylics, pastels, and watercolors to photography and printmaking. Each month, this art gallery at the stunning Visitor Center displays artworks that remind the public of how nature can feed the imagination and connect people to their creativity.
The opening reception for Art for the Park on Sunday, Dec. 8 is free and open to the public. The artists included in the exhibition are Kathyrn Gail Ackley, Kenda Francis, Margaret Larlham, Julianne Ricksecker, Vanessa Ruscyzk, Blake Shaw, Denise Strahm, Gerry Tietje, Susan Weinberg-Harter.
The Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation greatly appreciates the generosity of the participating artists in this and all of the Art Program exhibitions.
Become a trail guide
Volunteer Trail Guides are wanted to lead nature walks for the public at Mission Trails Regional Park. Join us for an 11-week training course beginning Jan. 11. No experience required. Please note there is a $25 materials fee due at orientation. For more information, e-mail Ranger Chris Axtmann at email@example.com or call 619-668-3277.
Art for the Park
Opening Reception Sunday, Dec. 8, 2-4 p.m.
Exhibition on view through Jan. 3, 2020
Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor Center
Open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
— Jennifer Morrissey is executive director of the Mission Trails regional Park Foundation.