Sweet Sounds of Sweetwater

Hike San Diego National Wildlife Refuge

The San Diego National Wildlife Refuge is just twenty minutes east of San Diego's busy downtown, yet the sheer tranquility of this place makes you feel a world away. See spectacular birdlife on an 8-mile (round-trip) hike to the refuge's Sweetwater Reservoir. The Sweetwater River Trail begins on its namesake historic bridge (pictured). Be on the lookout for the variety of birds in the brush. The endangered California gnatcatcher and the southwestern willow flycatcher are common residents. Stay on the main trail after crossing the bridge and spend a few minutes walking under the forested canopy, enjoying the cool reprieve. The next few miles are exposed and can be hot as you trace the grassy foothills of looming San Miguel Mountain. Sweetwater Reservoir is large and surrounded by stalky reeds. Spend some time exploring the marshier areas of this oasis, keeping your eyes peeled for the cute pied-billed grebes that frequent this habitat, noticeable for their black-and-white-striped beaks.

Directions: From San Diego, take CA-94E to Jamacha, then turn right onto Campo Rd. (staying on CA-94). In 0.3 mile turn right again onto Singer Ln. The trail is situated across the street. Park in the dirt lot and start your hike at the historic Sweetwater River Bridge. Dog-friendly! NOTE: Bring lots of water for you and your four-legged pal. This hike can be hot.

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