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July 18, 2013 (San Diego)--“San Diego Family Magazine” readers voted Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP) “Best of Family Fun” for 2013 in four categories: Best Place to Connect with Nature, Best Lake, Best Guided Nature Walk, Best Lake, and Best Horseback Riding Trails (bring your own horse). MTRP was the only entry to win in four categories.   

MTRP is 12 miles from downtown San Diego and five miles northeast of Qualcomm Stadium off Mission Gorge Road. The park encompasses about 5,800 acres, and offers 40 miles of trails for hiking, bicycling – including mountain biking, rock climbing, horseback riding, and a 14,750-square-foot Visitor Center located at One Father Junipero Serra Trail, San Diego 92119.  It is the largest urban open space park west of the Mississippi and everything is free--including many special summertime activities.  Scroll down for details.

Each Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 9:30 a.m., the park offers a free, 90-minute guided nature walk that begins in the MTRP Visitor Center.  And on the second and fourth Saturday of each month (weather permitting), a second guided nature walk is offered that meets at the Kumeyaay Lake Campground at 8:30 a.m.   On the second Friday of each month, from sunset until 10:00 p.m., visitors can join the San Diego Astronomy Association members for a “Star Party” at the Kumeyaay Lake Campground Day Use Parking Lot.  Telescopes will be available for viewing the stars and planets.  On Sunday, July 28 at 3:00 p.m. visitors can join Trail Guides Jen Douglas and Marcia Stone at the Visitor Center for a 90-minute Family Discovery Walk.  This is an opportunity for parents and children to get outdoors and spend some quality time together in nature.

The Visitor Center includes a two-story Exhibit Hall, a 93-seat theater offering four “short” movies about the history and extent of MTRP, and the Native American Kumeyaay people who once lived in what is now the park.  Today, the Kumeyaay Nation comprises 17 Bands living in San Diego County and Baja California.  The Visitor Center also includes a gift shop, a library with a spectacular view of Mission Gorge, and an art gallery featuring award-winning artists and photographers depicting a wide variety of nature-related paintings and photographs.  The art exhibition changes monthly. Go to short video for a preview of our current art exhibition “In and Around Mission Trails” showing through July 26. 

Lake Murray covers approximately 160 acres and is a popular venue for bicycling, jogging, walking, rollerblading, and picnicking. Visitors can walk on a paved road only as far as a dam gate (approximately 3.2 miles) and then must return, making a 6.4-mile round trip. There are barbecue pits and picnic tables located around the lake. Visitors must bring their own barbecues for use only in designated areas.  Boats may be rented and fishing is allowed; those 16 years of age and above will need a fishing license.  A concession stand also sells fishing licenses and bait.   

We also have two programs specifically designed for children: (1) Linda Hawley’s “Nature Adventures” for children 3 and up is offered at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Sundays through the summer.  Each week is a different topic.  (2) Nora’s Children’s Art Classes for children 4-12 are offered on most Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. Nora is offering a special week-long art camp for children 5-12 during the week of July 15.  Click on the links above for more information including weekly topics, cost for east session, and registration forms for both programs.  

MTRP is owned by the City of San Diego and operated by the city’s Open Space Division of the Park and Recreation Department.  The MTRP Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public benefit nonprofit corporation. In partnership with the City of San Diego, the MTRP Foundation preserves and protects the natural environment of MTRP and provides and promotes educational and recreational opportunities.

Go to summer fun  for a listing of all the activities in the park, sign up for our free e-newsletters on the left hand side of our homepage, and “like us” on facebook.

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