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San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve

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2710 Manchester Avenue
Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007
ThomBros: 1167-E4

Hours: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily except Christmas Day.
Phone number: 760-634-3026

For up to date park closures please visit our News Page.

Directions: From I-5 take Manchester Avenue west. The entrance to the Nature Center is on the south side of the road. From Solana Beach, access to the trails on the south side is at the north end of North Rios Avenue, reached from Lomas Santa Fe Drive. Other trail access points are available throughout the Reserve.

Location Map  (find park name in the left column)


  • Self-guided nature trail
  • 300 species of plants, 300 bird species, six plant communities

Not only is San Elijo Lagoon one of the few remaining coastal wetlands in San Diego County, it is home to an exceptional number of plants and animals. A walk along the five miles of trails will take you through various plant communities, where you’ll encounter many of the 300 species of plants, 16 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 26 species of mammals. The lagoon is especially known for its bird life. At least 300 species have been seen here, 76 of which are classified as sensitive.

A new “green” nature center, on the north side of the lagoon offers exhibits that detail the lagoon’s plant and animal communities, its fascinating history, and the various natural and human influences that affect this sensitive ecosystem. Please note that as an ecological reserve, San Elijo Lagoon has no developed facilities on the southern trails. However, restrooms and water are available at the nature center.

For a printable brochure of the reserve, including a trails map, go to this page.  For information on the nature center, go to this page.

The nature center is also available for meetings and birthday parties.  For additional information and reservations call, 858.565.3600 (toll free 1.877.565.3600). Room capacity is 41 people with tables and chairs, and 87 people seated theatre-style.


San Elijo Lagoon   Self-guided nature trail   Hiking on nature trail

Click images to enlarge