Batiquitos Lagoon in north San Diego County is one of the few remaining tidal wetlands on the southern coast of the United States. Located between Carlsbad and Encinitas, the lagoon is managed as a wildlife preserve by the California Department of Fish and Game. This lagoon is home to several protected nesting areas and water sports (even kayaking) are not allowed, keeping the waterway exceptionally natural.
Time: ~1 hour
Elevation gain: 250 ft
When to go: Year-round
Joan and I stopped by here last Saturday. She was feeling a cold coming on, and so we were looking for an easy hike. The Batiquitos Lagoon trail fit the bill perfectly. As an out-and-back hike, you can tailor the distance to suit your time and energy. We hiked the entire length and back — a modest 3.25 miles with only one gentle hill along the way.
There are several access points to the Batiquitos Lagoon trail, but I recommend starting at the beginning. Drive to the end of Gabbiano Lane in Carlsbad, and you’ll see a sign marking the start of the trail.
About 30 yards down the trail is the Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation Nature Center, with information on guided walks, special events and a free trail map and nature guide.
This wide, gentle trail meanders along the north side of the lagoon. There are a few stands of eucalyptus and palm trees along the way.
In spite of being so close to well-developed Carlsbad, the trail along the lagoon has retained much of it’s natural beauty.
If you follow the trail to the end, you’ll see a gravel road on a berm with a locked gate to a protected bird nesting area, including the Least Tern. If you are watchful, you may see them from May to August when they migrate here to nest.
Take a moment to take in the views of the lagoon. It’s not hard to imagine what this area looked a hundred years ago — at least, until you turn around toward the hills developed with homes.
This is the turnaround point. Retrace your steps back to the trailhead.
Trail Map and Elevation Profile
Click a thumbnail to view the larger images.