Nature Spaces


Photo: Lisa Field 

San Diego has a mediterranean climate and is located in the California Floristic Province. There are eleven watersheds, and twenty unique vegetation communities.3 Within those communities, there are 29 plants and animals that are either threatened or endangered.4 In addition to these local concerns, San Diego is located within a biodiversity hotspot. A biodiversity hotspot is an area of land that has an exceptional concentration of plant endemism and only has 30% or less of its original vegetation.2 Though much of this loss is due to climate change, the largest threat to biodiversity is habitat destruction.1 The major issues contributing to habitat loss are urbanization, invasive species introduction and climate change. There are amazing organizations working to preserve, protect and restore our unique ecosystems. 

It is with utmost respect that I would like to recognize that the nature spaces below exist on Kumeyaay, 'Iipay (Diegueño) and Luiseño ancestral homeland. From these original stewards of the land, we are able to learn from their example of how to protect and preserve the unique biodiversity that exists here. 

Where Can I Find Nature Spaces?

There are so many amazing places to visit in San Diego County. Take a tour of some popular spaces by using the interactive map below or reading more about the different locations listed. We hope to see you out there!

Interactive map Check out this Google Earth tour of nature spaces around San Diego or click through the links below to learn more.

Mission Trails Regional Park

Mission Trails Regional Park has more than 8,000 acres providing recreational opportunities including walking, hiking, mountain biking, and bird watching, as well as educational programs for nature lovers of all ages.

San Diego River Trail

The San Diego River Trail is a network of paths that lead along the San Diego River channel and mud flats and provide access to Mission/Fashion Valley shopping areas. You can walk or ride on either side of the river via the Sunset Cliffs bridge, or the bridge closer to the New SDSU Stadium.

Sweetwater Marsh

The Sweetwater Marsh unit of the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge is located on the east side of the bay in the Chula Vista area of San Diego, CA. This vast undeveloped property is surrounded by densly-packed cities, but is a haven for protected birds and other animals.

Agua Hedionda Lagoon

In Carlsbad, three lagoons cover more than 1,000 acres and include nature preserves, hiking trails and water recreation areas. Lagoons provide valuable open space, allowing the public to enjoy nature, exercise, relax and take in some of the most beautiful views in the world.

Batiquitos Lagoon

Batiquitos Lagoon is a coastal wetland north of San Diego between the cities of Carlsbad and Encinitas, adjacent to the Park Hyatt Aviara and it’s world-class golf course. It is one of the few remaining tidal wetlands on the southern California coast of the United States.

Lake Murray

Lake Murray Reservoir is located within the boundary of Mission Trails Regional Park, which lies between the city of San Diego and the neighboring communities of La Mesa and Santee. The lake is open for shore fishing and private boats (when water level allows) sunrise to sunset, seven days a week.

Bayshore Bikeway

Coastal rail-trail experiences don't get much better than this—a long, smooth, palm-tree-lined trail with stunning views of the Pacific, San Diego Bay and the downtown skyline, plus easy access to parks, tot play areas and chic cafes.

Otay Valley Regional Park

The Otay Valley Regional Park represents one of the major open space areas within southern San Diego County, linking South Bay with lower Otay Lake Reservoir. From playing fields and picnic areas to hiking, biking, and horse trails, the park will provide local residents and visitors with a variety of recreational opportunities. 

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

The beautiful park offers camping and hiking in an oak woodland forest, with a sprinkling of pines and lovely meadows with creeks.  There are over 100 miles of trails which accommodate hikers, bikers, and equestrians. 

Blue Sky Ecological Reserve

Blue Sky Ecological Reserve is a 700-acre canyon. Fully trained Docents offer hands-on experiences to identify and observe plants and animals, resource preservation activities, and programs.

Lake Poway

Nestled in the hills of Poway, the Lake Poway Recreation Area not only serves as the water supply for residents, but also has provided exceptional outdoor recreational opportunities since 1972.

Kumeyaay-Diegueño Nation Flag

Thank You For Helping Nature!


Photo Credits: 

From left-right, top-bottom: 

Image #1: Lisa Field. (2021). Torrey Pines Beach looking South. San Diego, California:

Image #2:  San Diego Tourism Authority. (2021). Seven Best Inland Hikes in San Diego County. San Diego, California: San Diego Tourism Marketing District Corporation.