Native San Elijo Lagoon: Sunset over San Elijo Lagoon, by Daniel DiPinto Summer Walks: Mule Deer, by Janine Free

Summer events at San Elijo Lagoon

ENCINITAS — The summer season at San Elijo Lagoon, 2710 Manchester Ave. in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, offers more than fanciful butterflies and long, winding trails. Free, public programs will occur in the serene environment of San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve. One of San Diego’s largest coastal wetlands, this county and state regional park protects nearly 1,000 acres of habitat that hosts more than 700 species of plants and animals. All programs are free. 

First up is the Native San Elijo Lagoon Family Discovery Days from 1 to 4 p.m. June 30 and July 1. Revisit a time when Native Americans relied upon wetlands for many needs. Learn how local plants were used for medicines, food, tools, and clothing. Children can try acorn grinding, play Kumeyaay games, make authentic crafts, and unearth “finds” at a mock dig site. Enjoy traditional Native American storytelling at 2 p.m. each day.

Family Discovery Days take place quarterly at San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center. Family Discovery Days is made possible through the partnership of San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, San Diego County Parks and Recreation, and San Diego County Parks Society. The city of Encinitas and the Mizel Family Foundation Community Grant provide additional funding.

For more information on Family Discovery Days at San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center contact the Nature Center at (760) 634-3026 or visit

The newest attraction is Summer Evening Walks 5:30 to 7 p.m. on third Wednesdays July 18, Aug. 15 and Sept. 19. As the sun begins to descend over the ocean, some animals that live in San Elijo Lagoon emerge from daytime slumber. Explore the estuary as day becomes dusk with San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy docents. Enjoy the fragrance of sage-scrub on a warm evening. Search for mule deer emerging from naps and scan for night herons fishing for breakfast.

Summer Evening Walks occur on Santa Carina Trail. The trail has moderate inclines in some areas. It is helpful to have water and to dress comfortably. More information is online at

Enjoy a Docent Open House from 3 to 5 p.m. Sept. 8: at San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center. For those interested in sharing their passion for nature, this Open House will acquaint participants with the joys of volunteering to lead hikes for school children and the general public. Current and prospective docents will hear an overview of the 2012 Docent-Naturalist program, see photos and tools of interpretation, and have an opportunity to meet others. Light refreshments will be served.

As a naturalist with the Conservancy, docents help support the mission to protect and enhance San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve, by fostering stewardship and appreciation of the protected wetland environment. The application deadline is Sept. 21. The eight-week training course is held Tuesday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon (and two Saturday mornings) at San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center, beginning Oct. 2. For reservations, call (760) 436-3944, ext. 701.

About San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy

San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy (SELC) is a community-spirited nonprofit land trust dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve.

This year is the Conservancy’s 25th anniversary.

SELC recently acquired the Gateway property, a 3.44-acre coastal parcel at the southern end of the lagoon. This latest land acquisition conserves irreplaceable view corridors for future generations and provides a buffer for wildlife in San Elijo Lagoon. A capital campaign is under way to raise funds to repay lenders and secure Gateway Park indefinitely.

For more information, visit the Conservancy’s website at, or call

(760) 436-3944.