South Lake Park
The new South Lake Park in San Marcos. Photo by Luis Monteagudo Jr.

Looking for a hike this long, holiday weekend? Here’s something new, and something familiar.

South Lake Park

Opened in April, South Lake Park is a 10-acre park in San Marcos that offers an easy 1-mile trail that loops around the lake. The park is at 975 Sunstone Drive, near Cal State San Marcos and easily accessible off State Route 78.

Planning for the park began in 2005. The lake used to be a local water supply, but now it’s been turned into the focal point of the park. The trail’s difficulty is not designated but it’s a dirt path with a some small and gradual inclines.

There is a small parking lot at the entrance to the lake. But take note that there are only two benches for sitting and no restroom facilities. Dogs are allowed on leashes.

Fishing is allowed at the lake with a valid license. Local wildlife include freshwater fish in the lake, including bass and bluegill, along with Western Pond Turtles and various species of ducks. The area is also visited by deer, rabbits, racoons, bobcats and coyotes.

Highlight: The trail goes around the upper edge of the lake so you are always rewarded with a water view. And if you want to get closer, there are paths leading down to the lake’s edge.

Battle trail
Battle Trail in Tecolote Canyon Natural Park. Photo by Luis Monteagudo Jr.

Battle Trail, Tecolote Canyon Natural Park

Tecolote is a hidden gem in the City of San Diego that offers 6.5 miles of trails. If you want to start out slow, Battle Trail is the first one you’ll encounter as you enter the park near the nature center at 5180 Tecolote Road.

It’s an easy, 1-mile trail on a dirt path with minimal inclines. But please be aware that while the trail is wide, it is a multi-use trail popular with mountain bikers, so stay alert.

There are views of a hillside bursting with colorful wildflowers. There’s a diversity to the trail, including clearings filled with flowers, yucca trees and red bush monkeyflowers and a small area with an old-growth trees that provides needed shade. There are also several little wooden bridges that become helpful during rainy season.

Highlight: The nature center is at the beginning of the trail and provides informative exhibits on local animal and plant life. It’s a good way to prepare yourself for the trail. There’s also a Kumeyaay Village and native plant garden. Plus, there are restrooms and plenty of parking. All in all, this is a fun, fairly easy trail to check out.

As always, happy hiking!

Although he was raised in the urban jungles of New York, Luis loves to hike and enjoy the outdoors. He has hiked in the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Zion National Park and the Oregon Coast among many other locations. If you have any hikes you’d like to recommend, let us know at