Trails

Santa Carina Loop Trail

  • DIFFICULTY: Easy

  • DISTANCE (ROUND-TRIP): 0.6 miles

  • TIME: 20 minutes (at a slow pace)

  • HOURS: Sunrise to sunset

  • RESTROOMS: No

  • PETS/ANIMALS: Horses + leashed dogs welcome

  • ENTRANCE: Santa Carina Trailhead (Solana Beach, CA)   See map

  • CLOSEST PUBLIC TRANSIT: Lomas Santa Fe + Solana Hills Dr (Solana Beach, CA) See map

  • PARKING: On-street

  • TERRAIN: Fairly even path. Note a section of rustic, erosion-control stairs.

Stroll by a freshwater marsh on San Elijo Lagoon’s southeast end.

The broken seashells on the trail remind you that the Pacific Ocean is nearby – these middens (shell bits) also remind us of the Kumeyaay who lived here long ago and ate lots of shellfish. Take time to relax on a bench, try birdwatching from your perch, and imagine the history of this land.

Soak up views of marshland grasses on the hills. Currently, one of our restoration efforts is to remove all invasive grasses – these were planted for agriculture years ago. Along the trail, native habitat restoration is also underway – note the cones and flags.

Keep an eye out for:

No. 1

A variety of birds,

as well as deer. The Santa Carina Trail is perfect for animal- and bird-watching!

Man crouched over planting native plants at San Elijo LagoonMan crouched over planting native plants at San Elijo Lagoon
No. 2

Upland habitat restoration

work from Nature Collective.

No. 3

The scent of black sage,

due to the leaves’ strong essential oils. More info

What to Expect

  1. At the start, you pass by a kiosk with more info about the trail, as well as trash and recycling cans.
  2. For the beginning of the trail, you walk down a slight decline with large, erosion-preventing stairs.
  3. Continue until you reach a fork in the road. Keep left and walk the Santa Carina Loop. Take in views of the East Basin, plus the current restoration work.
  1. Ready to rest during your trek? Sit on a bench along the trail – choose from a few along your path.
  2. Continue to follow the loop, and head back to the trailhead.

On your hike, you might see . . .

White sage

leaves were traditionally carried in the mouth or under the arms to disguise the human scent when hunting More info.

Southern Mule Deer

Every spring, male mule deer grow a brand new set of antlers, each one larger than the last. More info

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