Mission Trails Regional Park (27) (619-668-3281) http://mtrp.org is truly one of the ten wonders of the world. It is in fact, larger than Mission Bay and Balboa Park combined. And at 5,800 acres, it is the largest open space urban park west of the Mississippi River. And the spectacular, panoramic view from their 4,000 sq. ft. Visitor Center Terrace is nothing less than breathtaking.
This unique offering includes two lakes, a scenic stretch of the San Diego River and Old Mission Dam; a day-use campground for picnics; and Cowles Mountain, which is the tallest mountain in the city and from the summit offers panoramic views of the city clear to the Pacific Ocean. Plus, there are over 40 miles of trails, which easily accommodate hikers, mountain bikers, rock climbers, birders, and equestrians. There are also 600 different types of plants within the park, including over 300 varieties of wildflowers. Plus, they offer daily interpretive walks, and have a Park Ranger on staff.
The hub of activities takes place at the nearly 15,000 sq. ft. Visitor and Interpretive Center, which is open from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily except New Years, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The park itself is open every day of the year. The Center features a fascinating display of exhibits of animals and foliage in their natural habitat as well as rotating exhibitions of works by local award-winning artists. Don’t miss this unique glimpse of nature, which is only five minutes away from the hustle and bustle of Mission Valley.
The first Saturday morning of each month from 8:30 – 10:30, join a Mission Trails Regional Park Trail Guide and Tracking Team member for an adventure in wildlife tracking!
Learn the art of discovering signs left behind by resident creatures during two fun-filled hours of “dirt time.” These FREE tracking walks meet out in front of the Visitor Center and are suitable for the whole family! Don’t forget to wear long pants, for kneeling down on your knees. Rain cancels the walk.
Mission Trails Regional Park is at One Father Junipero Serra Trail in San Diego. For more information, call (619) 668-3281.