San Elijo Lagoon
Ecological Reserve

  • HOURS: Sunrise to sunset

  • PETS/animals: Horses (east of I-5 + leashed dogs welcome

  • ENTRANCE: Select “More” below

  • CLOSEST PUBLIC TRANSIT: Solana Beach Transit Center.

  • PARKING: Depends on entrance – see list below.

  • TERRAIN: Varies from trail to trail – see list below.

Our nearly 1,000-acre reserve is a hiker’s dream.

Bordered by North County San Diego gems – Solana Beach, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, and Rancho Santa Fe – the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve offers 9+ miles of hiking trails via 10 trailheads.

Over 1,000 plant and animal species pass through – or make their home in – San Elijo. Many are rare or endangered. As you journey our trails connecting wetland habitats of coastal strand, salt marsh, freshwater/brackish marsh, riparian woodland, coastal sage scrub, and mixed chaparral, you’re sure to sight many species along the way.

Every day of the year, the trails are open from sunrise to sunset. For the community’s safety, trail closures occur for repairs, restoration projects, and weather hazards.

Restoration Spotlight

Our $120-million restoration project is nearly complete. By the end of 2021, additional trails that connect East/West and North/South under the I-5 bridge will link the rest of the reserve’s trails. 

People love The San Elijo
Ecological Reserve

  • @kobusingye__

    Would not hesitate to come back to San Elijo in the future. Nice easy cardio workout with good views and fresh air.
    Read more

    Patrick T

    Bakersfield, CA

  • @themerrickan

    I love San Elijo Lagoon. I haven’t wandered all the trails in this area, but the parts I have explored are pretty awesome.
    Read more

    Doris W

    Seattle, WA

  • @dantheman77777777

    Nice hidden gem. There is a complex of trails, but the real trail here is a small nature walk inside the lagoon that is a Figure-8 in shape.
    Read more

    GT W

    Oceanside, CA

  • @pixelonwood

    Beautiful place to hike and explore the outdoors. The trails around the lagoon are well paved and are surrounded by lots of brush and…
    Read more

    Noel M.

    Rancho Santa Fe, CA

Restoring our local ecology,

At Nature Collective, we work with our community and supporters to
conserve and preserve San Diego’s natural habitats. You can even
volunteer – everyone is welcome!

What’s New at Nature Collective?

Join us for community events!
Discovery Tour | July 2


Discovery Tour | July 2

1 Hour

Discover the beauty of San Elijo Lagoon: where fresh water and saltwater meet and mix, where migratory and resident birds…

Learn More
MAD-Week Volunteer Restoration Event | June 11


MAD-Week Volunteer Restoration Event | June 11

3 hours

Join us in our habitat restoration project in the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve. Your help is needed as we…

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Wildlife Tour | June 11


Wildlife Tour | June 11

2 Hours

Experience San Diego wildlife in a fresh way. San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve is constantly changing: day to night, spring…

Learn More