Border Birds

Walk the Tijuana River Estuary

Head wayyy south—to the Tijuana River Estuary in Border Field State Park, a sprawling, primarily wetland habitat that’s home to some of San Diego’s rarest wildlife. Several miles of trails offer great hiking, biking, and horseback riding routes through riparian habitat. For the best experience, bring binoculars and go for a 1.6-mile (one-way) shoreline stroll that packs in some beautifully wild scenery. From the parking lot, follow the paved road for 0.5 mile (keep an eye out for the California king snake that frequents the area during warm days). The asphalt transitions to a dirt trail lined with a variety of salt-marsh plants like shoregrass, salt grass, and salt marsh bird beak—an endangered plant that thrives here (among only ten other places worldwide!). The trail tapers to a long stretch of white-sand beach where you’re likely to spot two important birds: the lesser tern and snowy plover, both of whom lay eggs in the soft sands along the shore. Several shorebirds roam the water’s edge. Sea glass adds extra sparkle to the setting. Although border patrol is on high alert here, you can stroll as far as the fenced boundary between San Diego and Tijuana, at the southwesternmost point of the contiguous United States.

Directions: From San Diego, head south on I-5. Take exit 2, Dairy Mart Rd. Turn right onto Dairy Mart Rd. After 1.2 miles, continue straight as the name changes to Monument Rd. After 2.7 miles, park outside of the Border Field State Park gate. No dogs. 

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