Mission Trails launches new photography program

By Jennifer Morrissey | Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation

Even before Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP) was officially designated in 1980, its stunning landscapes, flora, and wildlife had been popular subjects among both amateur and professional photographers. This fall, the MTRP Foundation will launch a new program that celebrates contemporary images captured at Mission Trails, but which also gives photography enthusiasts the opportunity to learn from some of the most skilled photographers in the MTRP community.

Award-winning photographers David Cooksy and Rick Wiley have traversed the park countless times in their endeavor to capture its essence, and have graciously offered to share their expertise in two separate evening lectures, each followed by one session of optional in-field instruction. “In Focus: Perspectives on Photography at Mission Trails” was conceived by the two photographers, and Cooksy will present the inaugural lecture on Thursday, Oct. 18.

“Dream Catch,” by Rick Wiley is an example of landscape photography. (Courtesy Rick Wiley)

An MTRP volunteer trail guide, Cooksy has also served as a volunteer photographer for the park for eight years. His images have been used in various regional publications and utilized by the park for promotional and educational purposes, including the MTRP Foundation-published book “The Geology of Mission Trails” by Patrick Abbott, Ph.D.

Wildlife photos like this one of a dragonfly will be discussed by David Cooksy (Photo by David Cooksy)

Wiley has photographed the Mission Trails landscape for decades. The park became his photographic laboratory where he developed his skills through innovation and experimentation. In the years since, many of his photos have been used in park promotions and publications.

At their lectures, Cooksy and Wiley will share their work and present key concepts and techniques used in pursuit of remarkable wildlife and landscape photography. Attendees will have the opportunity to sign up for the complimentary 90-minute field class organized in conjunction with the lecture.

On both lecture dates, doors open at 6:30 p.m. for refreshments and socializing, with the presentations beginning at 7 p.m.

Both photographers have generously waived honoraria for the engagements, choosing to have the proceeds from the program benefit the initiatives of the MTRP Foundation. Ticket price includes attendance at the selected lecture and the photographer’s field class.

For tickets and more information, visit

In Focus: Perspectives on Photography at Mission Trails
David Cooksy: Wildlife Photography
Lecture: Thursday, Oct. 18, 7–8:30 p.m.
Available field class dates: 1 p.m., Oct. 20, 27, and Nov. 1

Rick Wiley: Landscape Photography
Lecture: Thursday, Nov. 1, 7–8:30 p.m.
Field class: 9 a.m., Nov. 18

Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor Center
1 Junipero Serra Trail
San Diego, CA 92119

Individual Lecture + field class: $10
Field class sign-up at the lectures.
Tickets and more information at

—Jennifer Morrissey is director of the Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation. Reach her at


Mission Trails Regional Park calendar of events*

Wildlife Tracking Walks – 8:30 a.m., first Saturday each month – Visitor Center

Guided Nature Walks – 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday each week – Visitor Center

Guided Nature Walks Kumeyaay Lake Campground – 8:30 a.m., second and fourth Saturday each month – KLC Campground

Birding Basics Class – 1 p.m., last Saturday each month – Visitor Center

Bird Walks – 8 a.m., third Saturday each month – check website calendar for meeting locations

Family Discovery Walks – 3 p.m., fourth Sunday each month – Visitor Center

Discovery Table Activity – 10 a.m.–1 p.m., second Saturday each month – Visitor Center

Live Hawk Talk Activity – 9 a.m.–noon, first Sunday each month – Visitor Center

Native American Flute Circle – 1–3 p.m., second Sunday each month – Visitor Center Outdoor Amphitheater

Free Concert Series – 3 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 7, Fred Benedetti, guitar – Visitor Center Theater

Free Concert Series – 3 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 21, N. Scott Robinson, world music – Visitor Center Theater

Star Gazer/Telescope Parties – Sept. 22 at 7 p.m., Oct. 13 at 6:30 p.m. and Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. – Meet at KLC Campground Day-Use Parking Lot. Cloudy skies/rain cancels.

*Partial listing of Monthly Events at Mission Trails Park. View our website for full calendar of free activities and programs, visit, or call the Visitor Center at 619-668-3281.

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