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Happy Trails II
Devils in the Dust

Ann Gardner | Via Latina


Boardwalk and Lagoon Trails.
Courtesy San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy. Click to enlarge.


Looking south from the San Dieguito River Park Lagoon Trail at San Andres, you can sometimes see the outline of a trail looping around a distant hillside and small figures nearby. The figures are part of a Friday morning cadre of volunteers who plant, weed and mulch new plants at the Western end of the Park, and the trail, the Dust Devil Trail, is named in their honor.

“I’ve seen the lagoon go from an almost-bare-dirt look to the plants we have there today. Each time I walk by a healthy and prospering plant that I remember planting there myself, I do a silent cheer! I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing ‘my’ plant thriving,” volunteer Carol Carr exclaimed. She doesn’t remember where the name came from but thinks it might be because the work often consists of “moving from here to there, trimming, carrying buckets of mulch and pots of plants, pulling weeds and kicking up dust like a small whirlwind as we work!”


Park Ranger directs Friday morning volunteer
Dust Devils. Photo Ann Gardner


The Trail has three loops, all within an easy about two mile flat walk that works for kids as well as older folks with limited mobility. Easy parking is available at the trailhead off of El Camino Real, across from Stallions Crossing intersection. No bicycles or horses are allowed but dogs on leash are o.k. The surrounding landscape is covered mostly with coastal salt bush now. But a Dust Devil we encountered mulching around a spindly, staked plant, was confident the new natives “will take eventually” creating a diversity that will include golden bush, Cleveland sage, bush sunflower and bladder pod. The River Park brings in a water truck as needed in the summer, hooking up to the temporary irrigation system.
For hikers, birders and volunteers, the Trail boasts ocean breezes, birds of prey diving for rodents, and otherwise out-of-sight views of seasonal (some are dry now) ponds. Birders online exclaim: “Late this afternoon I saw three Wilson’s phalaropes in the southernmost ponds on the West Loop trail!” and “As of this morning the main pond looks good and held 9 Wilson’s Phalaropes, singles of Western and Least Sandpipers, four Short-billed Dowitchers, a family of Black-neck Stilts and an American Avocet!”

If you are looking for a new way to enjoy the Lagoon Trails, the Dust Devil Trail would be a perfect place to start either as a walker, birder or as a volunteer. Go to www.sdrp.org for more information. You won’t regret it, and you may spot a swarm of swallows circling one of the ponds if you take one of the loops on a break.



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