A series of 80 hikes around the region led by Canyoneers from the San Diego Natural History Museum begins Sunday, the Balboa Park institution announced Tuesday.
Most are on weekends — with a few midday hikes on select dates — and cover diverse terrain, ranging from the coast to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and from the Tijuana Estuary to Palomar Mountain.
In addition to the public hikes, San Diego students grades 2-12 will be able to get outside the classroom through Canyoneer-led hikes offered to local schools at no cost.
“Kids are most inspired by nature when they get outside and experience it for themselves — seeing a Monarch butterfly or a coast live oak in person helps bring to life what they’re learning in the classroom,” said Judy Gradwohl, museum president and CEO.
The program is made possible with support from Subaru of America, underwriting the hiking program for the fourth year in a row.
“We’re continuing to support the Canyoneer hiking program and are delighted that our partnership also includes funding that gets local students out into nature,” said Eric Park, zone retail marketing manager at Subaru of America. “The Canyoneer program inspires people to get outside and explore, and that’s a cause we and our drivers are passionate about.”
The museum aims to serve about 550 students this year through the program. Space is limited on the hikes. For more information or to book a hike, visit sdnat.org/schoolnaturehikes or call 619.255.0349.
Public hike highlights include:
• New hikes in Cleveland National Forest, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and several other locations including Gremlin Way Trailhead in Dictionary Hill Open Space Preserve.
• Once a month, the Canyoneers will lead a midweek hike to locations often crowded on weekends due to limited access. Examples include Equestrian Trail in Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve (November 13) and Luelf Pond Preserve in Ramona (May 12).
• Desert hikes that are scheduled on consecutive days allow for camping opportunities, reducing the amount of driving necessary to get to both hikes.
• Some trails offer shorter hikes with little elevation change — good for younger hikers — and some very flat and paved hikes for strollers and anyone with a disability. One example is the Batiquitos Lagoon Gabbiano Trailhead (September 14).
• If the weather cooperates, there’s a chance to see waterfalls on Cibbets Flat to Kitchen Creek Falls hike (February 9) and the Green Valley Falls Loop (June 28).
• Hikes in some of the most interesting geological areas in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, including Fish Creek/Split Mountain (January 4) and Canyon Sin Nombre (February 8) — popular with slot canyon fans.
Canyoneers are citizen scientists and volunteers who have had comprehensive training by museum scientists and local experts on the natural history of the region. One of the few trail-guide groups nationwide affiliated with a natural history museum rather than a park or reserve, Canyoneers have provided free guided tours in San Diego County since 1973.
The hike schedule and interactive map are available online at sdnat.org/canyoneers, and printed brochures are available at local outdoor retailers such as REI and Adventure 16 as well as at local Subaru dealerships.