With things like the “Bombogenesis” looming over the airwaves from the east coast, February is one of the months that makes SoCal residents appreciate the temperate weather even more than usual. February is often one the first winter months that can trigger heat waves that make it hard to believe that it is the middle of winter. That, paired with periods of cool nights and a thick marine layer make February one of the most ideal times to get outside and enjoy the weather. Whether you’re a snowbird who is visiting to escape the winter weather or a resident, Carlsbad is home to over 50+ miles of scenic trails that provide the perfect opportunity to take advantage or the coastline and lush landscape surrounding the city. Here are a few of Carlsbad’s top trails that will take you off the beaten path this month.
For beginners, the two 1.8 mile loops with low elevation gain are a trek with a historic backdrop. The Leo Carillo Ranch is now partially owned by the City of Carlsbad and it has been deemed as a National Historic Landmark. The trail itself is paved and offers variations in standard Southern California vegetation such as the Burbank’s Spineless Cactus. Shortly into the hike there is a bridge extending over a creek with the chance to see a variety of small wildlife. Hikers can take advantage of the historic adobe buildings throughout the Leo Carillo Ranch Park before or after their hike. The trail extends around the outskirts of the ranch and provides a fun and relaxing walk perfect for families with dogs, children, and bikes.
The lagoon itself is one of Carlsbad’s finest natural landmarks. The coastal salt marsh is home to some of the best views around and is just a stone’s throw from the famed Aviara golf course. As one of the few remaining tidal wetlands on the California coast, the trail offers chances to see over 100 different species of birds. Migratory waterfowl make their homes near the lagoon and the trail is ranked easy-to-moderate in difficulty with 3.2 paved miles from start to finish.
In addition to the lagoon trail, there are four other trails around Aviara that offer some of the most diverse views available in North County. The Black Sage trail is home to the native sage that fills the surrounding canyons and walkways contained within. Views from the Black Sage trail allow spectacular views from San Marcos to Black Mountain. The Eucalyptus trail is an exciting pathway littered with eucalyptus trees from start to finish. This particular trail has a slightly greater elevation than the other surrounding trails and, at its highest points, offers views of the lagoon and ocean. The Salt Marsh trail and Golf View trail are two trails backing right up the lagoon. The first is located at a low elevation adjacent to the marsh that offers native vegetation to the marsh and surrounding wetland. The Golf View trail is an easy path that lets hikers take in the most spectacular views that the golf course has to offer. Altogether, the lagoon and surrounding trails make up a solid 6 miles of trails. Choose to tackle them one by one or altogether to get a diverse view of Carlsbad’s lucious landscape and scenic views.
For hikers looking for a slightly more moderate level of difficulty, the Calavera Hills Trails are 3.4 miles of increasing elevation and wildlife. The hike up Mount Calavera is nestled next to Lake Calavera and hikers can take in the city of Carlsbad and the Pacific Ocean as well as Mount Palomar from the top. Birds are known to circle the shoreline of the lake. The surrounding open space preserve that is home to the trail offers opportunities for relaxation and picnicking in addition to the hike.
Another moderately difficult set of trails can be found in Hosp Grove Park. Accessible all year round, the trails at Hosp Grove are good for hikers of all skill levels and offer combined elevations of over 100 feet. There are a number of trails available with ocean vistas. The surrounding park is split into two sections (West and East Grove) and is host to one of the most extensive grids of trails in North County. The eucalyptus trees located throughout were originally planted to provide wood for a rail line but now provide shade and scenic views. For experienced hikers, these unpaved trails are some of the best workouts in North County and result in spectacular views of the lagoon and Pacific Ocean.
As the name implies, the Sea Wall trail takes hikers straight to the coast to enjoy everything the ocean has to offer. The one-mile paved trek along the coastline is a popular spot to either walk, run, or sightsee. With the sea wall backing up to the shoreline, the paved path starts at the south end of Tamarack beach and can be a prime spot for dolphin sightings.
San Diego is home to hundreds and hundreds of hiking options for outdoor lovers. Carlsbad’s location and proximity to both the water and the mountains make it a prime spot for unique trails. Be sure to take advantage of this month’s beautiful weather and hit the trails before the summer months kick in.