Dust Devil Nature Trail

It was another hot weekend, and we were looking for a shorter coastal trail that we could bring one of the dogs on – The Dust Devil Nature Trail was a perfect choice. Located on the eastern side of the San Dieguito Lagoon, the trail is named in honor of the Dust Devils – a volunteer group started in the 1990’s who were instrumental in building and improving trails in the San Dieguito River Park. The trail consists of three interconnecting loops, which can seem a tad confusing if you’re just looking at the map, but is easy enough to navigate if you just turn right at every junction.

We set off from the northern edge of the parking lot. While the weather inland had been hot and muggy, here by the coast a cool breeze was blowing.

We passed a picnic table – an excellent spot to just sit and enjoy the view if you aren’t inclined to wander far from the parking lot.

Of course we were very much inclined to wander as far as we could, so we continued on as the trail bent westward.

In the distance, we could see traffic moving along I-5.

This stretch of trail didn’t get particularly close to the water, but in the distance, we could see a group of egrets perched on some branches in the river.

Around .3 mile, we reached a wide utility road. To the right, the road was blocked by a closed gate, so we turned left.

We got some nice views of one of the lagoon pools in the southwest.

Around .5 mile, we found a turn-off on the right, marked by a sign reading “Wildlife Viewing.” We turned, and headed slightly downhill.

At .6 mile we came to the start of a loop and took the right fork.

From here, we had a good view of the pool below, full of egrets and ducks.

Around .8 miles, as we reached the far end of the loop and began curving around, we found a short spur trail leading off towards the water on our right. We set off along the spur to investigate the view.

The trail led to a viewpoint with a bench overlooking another pool where more white egrets dotted the edge of the water.

We retraced our steps back to the loop and turned right to continue around the loop.

Around 1.05 miles we reached the end of the loop and retraced our path back to the utility road.

Once back at the road, we turned right, heading back towards the parking lot.

Around 1.25 miles we reached a 4-way junction. To the left was the parking lot, and the street lay straight ahead. We turned to the right, to explore the third and final loop in the hike.

At the start of the loop, we took the fork to the right heading west. A local resident walking his dogs warned us that there had been several rattlesnakes sighted on this section of trail recently, so we were extra vigilant as we hiked.

This loop was quite short and before we knew it we were back at the start, having seen no rattlesnakes.

From the end of the loop we headed north the short distance to the parking lot.

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From I-5 take the Via De La Valle exit and head east on Via De La Valle. Continue for approximately 1.3 miles, then turn right onto El Camino Real. Follow El Camino Real for approximately 1.2 miles to find the San Dieguito River Park staging area on the right side of the road. map

Total Distance: 1.75 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Total Ascent: 85 feet
Dog Friendly?: Leashed dogs allowed
Bike Friendly?: Bikes not allowed
Facilities: Port-a-potty in parking lot; No water
Fees/Permits: None

For more information, visit:
San Dieguito River Park
Trail Map
View route or download GPX from CalTopo

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