Batiquitos Lagoon

Batiquitos Lagoon is one of the few remaining tidal wetlands in southern California. Located between Carlsbad and Encinitas, the Lagoon was chosen as a mitigation site in the 1980’s to offset development in San Pedro Harbor by the Port of Los Angeles. As a result, Batiquitos was dredged to remove accumulating silt and restore tidal flow to the Lagoon. Today Batiquitos Lagoon has been restored to a beautiful 610 acre preserve that is home to numerous fish, birds, plants, and mammals, and serves as a popular recreation spot for San Diegans looking for an easy, coastal stroll.

We headed out to Batiquitos on a warm, muggy, Sunday morning that was just too hot for inland hiking. There are several different parking areas and access points where one can get to the trail, but we chose to start at the main trailhead at the end of Gabbiano Lane in Carlsbad. There were only a couple of dedicated parking spots for the trail and they were all full, so we had to park on the street (being careful not to annoy the neighbors).

From the end of the cul-de-sac we started down the path, which was paved for a short section. A spur trail ran off to the west towards the noise of Interstate 5, but we continued southeast on the main trail.20150628_DSC1613-EditBatiquitos

We passed the Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation Nature Center, which has an outdoor spigot with water available for humans and dogs, and also houses a bathroom available to visitors during operating hours (9am – 3pm daily).20150628_DSC1616-EditBatiquitos

We were there somewhat early, so the Nature Center wasn’t open yet. The pavement quickly disappeared and the trail consisted of wide, hard-packed dirt. We noticed a number of visitors pushing children in sports strollers.20150628_DSC1620-EditBatiquitos

There were benches placed regularly along the trail, providing nice spots to sit and enjoy the scenery or watch the many shorebirds along the water’s edge.20150628_DSC1621-EditBatiquitos20150628_DSC1640-EditBatiquitos

To our left was a tall hillside, covered in eucalyptus trees which mostly hid the large houses located there.20150628_DSC1634-EditBatiquitos

And of course, to the right was a wide band of coastal sage scrub and then the cool blue of the lagoon.20150628_DSC1630-EditBatiquitos

Around the .5 mile mark, there was a woodrat (packrat) den built up under the bushes along the side of the trail, and an accompanying interpretive sign. We didn’t see any sign of the rats themselves though, not surprising since they’re nocturnal.20150628_DSC1643Batiquitos

We continued on the trail, enjoying the cool coastal breeze and the shade of the trees which partially made up for the oppressive humidity of the day.20150628_DSC1647-EditBatiquitos

Dense, tropical clouds collected in the eastern sky.20150628_DSC1650-EditBatiquitos

As we walked, we scanned the water’s edge for bird activity. We were pretty far from the water here, so it was a little difficult to spot and distinguish the various shorebirds that were out, but we’re pretty sure we saw Snowy egrets, Great blue herons, sandpipers and/or curlews. The birds seemed to appreciate the distance between the multitude of people enjoying the trail and their hunting grounds.20150628_DSC1671-EditBatiquitos20150628DSC_1527BatiquitosLagoon

The trail bent inland briefly as we approached one of the several neighborhood access points to the trail. As the trail bent back south toward the water we were enveloped by towering eucalyptus trees on both sides. While eucalyptus aren’t a native species, we still appreciated the cool shade they provided on a warm summer day.20150628_DSC1665-EditBatiquitos

Through the brush on our left, we could see the wide green expanse of the greens at the Aviara Golf Course, and the occasional sound of chatter from golfers floated towards us on the humid breeze. Just past the 1 mile point, there was a path leading off to the left through a small metal gate to the golf course. 20150628_DSC1684Batiquitos

The shady eucalyptus trees disappeared for a while, and thick stands of reeds stood between us and the lagoon.20150628_DSC1688-EditBatiquitos

At 1.3 miles we came to a fork in the trail is it briefly split. We took the right fork that traveled a bit closer to the water’s edge, although both branches meet up again shortly so you can take either route.20150628DSC_1504BatiquitosLagoon

We spied another Snowy egret on the water’s edge.20150628DSC_1506BatiquitosLagoon

We rejoined the other trail segment again and continued on.20150628_DSC1704-EditBatiquitos

Down near the water, we saw a large sandy patch. This was one of several man made nesting sites for the endangered Least tern and Snowy plover. Both species require large sandy areas to build their nests and camouflage their eggs.20150628_DSC1717-EditBatiquitos

Coastal goldenbrush and fennel plants provided bright patches of yellow along the edge of the trail.20150628_DSC1719-EditBatiquitos20150628_DSC1722-EditBatiquitos

Before long we came to another shaded bench and kiosk, and a trail leading up to another access point on the left. The trail continued a few hundred feet beyond where it met the fence of some private property. This was our turnaround point, so we headed back the way we had come.20150628DSC_1521BatiquitosLagoon

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From I-5 take exit 45 for Poinsettia Lane toward Aviara Parkway. Head east on Poinsettia Lane. Turn right onto Batiquitos Dr, then right onto Gabbiano Lane. Follow Gabbiano to the end of the cul-de-sac where the trail begins. map

Total Distance: 3.2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Total Ascent: Negligible
Dog Friendly?: Leashed dogs allowed
Bike Friendly?: Bikes not allowed
Facilities: Water available outside Nature Center; bathroom inside Nature Center available during operating hours
Fees/Permits: None

For more information, visit:
Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation

View route on Google Maps

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