By Jennifer Morrissey
The weather has cooled, and the recent rain brought much-needed water to Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP). As you consider your visits to the park in the coming months, please note that, depending on the severity of the storm, trails may be muddy and impassable.
Trails closed by the park rangers will be marked. Also, Mission Trails’ rangers will close parking lots if they are muddy and there’s too much puddling. The Visitor Center parking lot often remains open, but it, and all of our lots, close at 5 p.m. this time of year. 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.
Visitor Center Gift Shop
Gifts that give twice! Take care of your holiday shopping and support Mission Trails at the Visitor Center Gift Shop. You can find books for adults and children, walking sticks, MTRP-branded items including our new 5-Peak Challenge T-shirt, toys, puppets, jewelry, stocking stuffers, and pottery and baskets made by indigenous peoples in Baja. Your purchase supports the park through the Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation. The Gift Shop is open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily.
Mission Trails holidays Itinerary
If you have friends and family visiting this holiday season or simply want to have new experiences at MTRP during the holiday break, we have outing ideas for you.
At the MTRP Visitor & Interpretive Center, explore our stunning 14,000-square-foot facility that includes educational exhibits, films, a library, gift shop, and an expansive terrace with a stunning view of Mission Gorge. On view at the Visitor Center is “Wilderness Views,” an art exhibit featuring artworks by students from the Grossmont Union High School District, including the following schools: El Cajon Valley, El Capitan, Grossmont, IDEA Center, Monte Vista, Steele Canyon, Valhalla, and West Hills. The students’ works will be on view through Jan. 4, 2019. Admission to the Visitor Center is free and it is open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily.
Take one of our frequent and free Guided Nature Walks with Mission Trails’ volunteer Trail Guides. Learn about Mission Trails’ history, flora and fauna, geology, and wildlife on these 90-minute walks. See our calendar for dates and times.
Families with children of all ages can go on one of our monthly Family Discovery Walks, this month taking place on Sunday, Dec. 23 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.
Also on Dec. 23, 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.
The West Sycamore Staging Area will also be the site of one of our regular nighttime Star Parties. From 5–10 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 21, join members from the San Diego Astronomy Association for viewings of the night sky through telescopes. If you come, please avoid the use of flashlights and white light in the area of the events. Cloudy skies and/or rain cancels the event, which is free, and no registration is necessary. See the West Sycamore webpage at mtrp.org for more information.
Finally, among our monthly volunteer work crew opportunities is our Park Beautification Crew. From 8 a.m.–noon on Saturday, Dec. 22, you can help maintain and beautify Mission Trails doing projects that include pruning brush, hauling and spreading mulch, doing litter abatement, riverbed clean-up, and fence repairs. To RSVP, please e-mail Ranger Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a great way to give back to the park, get some exercise, and enjoy the outdoors with fellow park enthusiasts.
—Jennifer Morrissey is the executive director of the Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation.
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., Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays each week – Visitor Center
Guided Nature Walks Kumeyaay Lake Campground: 8:30 a.m., second and fourth Saturday each month – KLC Campground
West Sycamore Nature Walk: 8a.m., third Sunday each month – Stonebridge Parkway in Scripps Ranch
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., forth 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
West Sycamore Volunteer Crew: 8 a.m., first Sunday each month – check website calendar for meeting locations
Habitat Restoration Volunteer Crew: 8 a.m., second Saturday each month – check website calendar for meeting locations
Trail Improvement Volunteer Crew: 8 a.m., third Sunday each month – check website calendar for meeting locations
Park Beautification Volunteer Crew: 8 a.m., fourth Saturday each month – check website calendar for meeting locations
Kids Nature Story & Craft with a Ranger: 10 a.m., every third Saturday – meet at KLC Campground Kumeyaay Lake Picnic Structure, RSVP to 619-668-3279
Native American Flute Circle: 1 p.m.–3 p.m., second Sunday each month – Visitor Center Outdoor Amphitheater
Free Concert Series: 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 16, Santee Chorus – Visitor Center Theater
*Partial listing of monthly events at Mission Trails Park. Visit mtrp.org for full calendar of free activities, programs, and updates, or call 619-668-3281.