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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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|
|Dog Friendly?:||Leashed dogs allowed|
|Bike Friendly?:||Bikes not allowed|
|Facilities:||Water available outside Nature Center; bathroom inside Nature Center available during operating hours|
For more information, visit:
Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation
View route on Google Maps