Mission Trails Regional Park is the bee’s knees

By Audrey F. Baker

The 1920s catchphrase, “it’s the bee’s knees,” expressing the height of excellence, sums up a day that includes time spent under the umbrella of nature at Mission Trails Park.

Honey bees pack and carry the richest pollen in tiny baskets located at the mid-segment of their legs. Your emersion into nature is an equally enriching experience.

This summer, make a bee line to Mission Trails. Take a hint from the bees – stop and smell the wild roses. Catch the graceful movement of a leaping lizard. “It’s the snake’s hips!” You’ll have a roaring good time as you examine the scope and beauty of your surroundings and the endless variety of its content. The landscapes are truly “the caterpillar’s kimono!”

CalWildRose (Rosa Californica) AFBaker

California Wild Rose (Rose Californica) (Photo by Audrey F. Baker)

Fill your summer with the rhyme and rhythm of life in wild San Diego and all that jazz!

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.

Wildlife Tracking with MTRP Tracking Team members presents the world of tracks, scat, bedlays and other critter evidence that indicate the presence of lesser-seen animals inhabiting the park. It’s two hours of dirt-time fun, so wear long pants for close-up observation. See you at 8:30 a.m., Saturday, June 4 in front of the Visitor Center.

Discovery Table: Plant Parts is an opportunity to engage in hands-on science as MTRP Trail Guides introduce you to basic plant structure. Drop by the Visitor Center Saturday, June 11 between 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and play our match game connecting each plant part to its function and discover what is inside seeds.

Star Party Luminaries are revealed with Mars and Saturn rising in the southeast and Jupiter to the west on an evening one day short of a quarter phased moon. Join MTRP resident star gazer George Varga as he scopes the Double Star Alcor/Mizar in Ursa Major and M13 (Hercules), M92 and M5 globular clusters, and more. Rain cancels. We gather between 7:30 and 10 p.m. Saturday, June 11 at the far end of the Kumeyaay Campground Day Use Parking Lot.

Bird the Loop with MTRP Birders Jeanne Raimond and Millie Basden for avian adventures on the Visitor Center Loop Trail. Explore multiple habitats seeking typical species that make MTRP their home. Recommend binoculars and bird book. Join us from 8 to 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 18. We meet in front of the Visitor Center.

La Mesa Walk and Talk combines a stroll along Lake Murray’s scenic shores with your MTRP Trail Guide and topics in nature. This month, we chat up “Coyotes: Our Wiley Native Canines,” and enjoy a morning at scenic Lake Murray. See you Tuesday, June 21 from 9 to 10:30 a.m., meeting at Ball Fields by entering Lake Murray Community Park at Murray Park Drive and Belle Glade Avenue.

Birding Basics enhances your nature experience by identifying birds “at a glance!” MTRP Bird Guide Winona Sollock’s class explains five simple techniques and gives tips on field guide use. (Bringing one is optional.) Class meets in Room A, inside the Visitor Center on Saturday, June 25 from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

Family Discovery Walk is an invitation to share nature’s summer magic as a family experience and see the seasonal changes it brings. Learn about plant and animal adaptations by examining those that transition into summer inactivity and those that flourish under sunny days. Our Trail Guide-hosted interactive outing focuses fun, childhood enrichment, and memorable moments in nature! See you inside the Visitor Center on Sunday, June 26 at 3 p.m. for 90 minutes of outdoor fun.

Meanwhile, come on out and enjoy the park!

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

—Audrey F. Baker is a trail guide at Mission Trails Regional Park. Reach her at

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