Trail Guide (cont. 2)

Self Guided Walks at Batiquitos Lagoon

Trail guides for self guided walks are available from the Nature Center. Read the trail guide below or download a copy here.

Lagoon Trail Guide

    1. Nesting Site

Across the lagoon is one of the five man-made sand nesting sites created for the endangered California Least Tern and Western Snowy Plover. For nesting, Least Terns require an open sandy area, with shells and pebbles to provide camouflage for their eggs. The fairly tall plant in front of you is Cordgrass, planted to make a habitat for endangered Clapper Rails.

    1. Geology

The rock in the cliffs along the trail is the Scripps Formation. This tan sandstone was deposited in a shallow ocean approximately 45 million years ago. The flat tops of the hills across the lagoon were cut by waves about 200,000 years ago, when the cliff tops were at sea level. The lagoon was created when the water that had been frozen in glaciers during the ice age melted, raising sea level by about 400 feet and flooding a deep canyon. From here, a fault is visible as offset layers in the road cut along La Costa Avenue.

If you would like to learn more about the geology of the lagoon area, see our geology pages.

    1. Shell Fragments

You will notice a large number of shell fragments on the ground; this identifies a midden: a spot used by local native Americans as a refuse dump for shellfish shells. Archaeologists have found nearly 200 prehistoric sites within a mile of the lagoon.

Remember this is an ecological preserve!


    1. Coyote Brush/Mustard

Areas like this were farmed to raise lima beans. This appears to be a place where native plants have re-established themselves, especially Coyote Brush. There are also non-native plants like the prolific Yellow Mustard, which blooms in spring.

    1. Riparian Habitat

This area is an often wet, low-lying drainage basin which produced many plants, such as natives Arroyo Willow and Coyote Brush, non-natives Watercress, Sweet Fennel, invasive Arundo reeds, Castor Bean and Wild Radish. The palm trees were planted. The low elevation may be the result of the fault crossing the lagoon here.

    1. Eucalyptus

These Eucalyptus trees are native to Australia and have naturalized in California, invading native plant habitats. The leaves and seed pods that fall beneath the trees contain pungent oils that prevent other plants, including native coastal sage scrub, from growing underneath. Many trees here have lost their leaves because of an insect pest, the Red Gum Lerp Psyllid.

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