Spring Sightseeing Activities in Southern California

Kyle Heye, News Editor

   Living in a city where one can surf and ski in the same day, San Diegans are lucky to share a myriad of natural spaces. As we near both the spring season and the International Day of Forests on March 21, it is a perfect time to highlight some of these worthwhile places we can enjoy.

After a long winter which saw record- breaking weather events throughout large parts of California, devastating many coastal cities with floods and landslides, spring will hopefully be a time for rejuvenation. It seems likely that Southern California will see massive blooms of wildflowers which have been lying dormant underground, similar to the super bloom of 2019, according to a website for backpackers (backpacker.com).

One of the best and most accessible ways for a San Diegan to view this phenomenon is to visit Mission Trails. The wooded river banks that wind through its rolling hills make this an ideal hiking location, and its grassland habitats foster the growth of wildflowers in the spring. According to the Mission Trails Regional Park website, the trails are open to everyone, and expert- guided events with regular schedules such as birdwatching or wildlife tracking are also hosted (mtrp.org).

   Although often discounted, the vast system of canyons running through the greater San Diego area are worth a visit. These are rarely more than a half-hour’s walk away, and provide a unique and accessible opportunity to experience the astonishing nature of San Diego.

Rose Canyon, which runs directly adjacent to UC High, hosts a great diversity of plants, animals, and fungi. It is a mosaic that combines a riparian system with oak woodlands and a chaparral that is characteristic of San Diego’s Mediterranean climate. Not only that, the canyon is also a stage that hosts a natural drama cast with coyotes, deer, raccoons, snakes, hawks, and other wild animals, according to San Diego’s government website (sandiego. gov).

   Arguably the pinnacle of locations for outdoor recreation around San Diego is Cleveland National Forest located in the East County. It is a vast expanse of wilderness, and is a favorite location of many Southern Californians. It offers dozens of trails and camping sites that allow hikers to immerse themselves in the high peaks, flowing rivers, and oak woodlands offered by the area.

One such trail is Secret Canyon, which, according to the Forest Service, is a scenic pathway that runs along a stream and culminates at a large swimming hole (fs.usda.gov). A UC High Senior, who made a trip over to Cleveland National Forest in February, described it as awe-inspiring and incredibly refreshing. “The trailbuilders did a fantastic job making the hike feel natural,” they said.

   San Diego offers a plethora of natural spaces that are waiting to be explored. Pristine rivers, untouched oak woodlands, and blooming grasslands are right in the backyard of UC High, and the upcoming spring season provides a great opportunity to experience these environments. After a record-breaking winter that kept most people inside from the rain, it is time to reappear as Southern California blooms.