Batiquitos Lagoon
A view of Batiquitos Lagoon. Photo by Luis Monteagudo Jr.

If you’ve ever driven north on the I-5 freeway you’ve probably passed Batiquitos Lagoon, a coastal wetland between the cities of Carlsbad and Encinitas.

The 600-acre lagoon provides a beautiful view from the freeway, but many driving by may not know that it also offers a couple of easy, enjoyable hikes.

Take a Hike, San Diego ventured out to the lagoon on a recently cloudy day perfect for hiking and explore the trails and the lagoon.

The lagoon is a short distance from the Poinsettia Lane exit off I-5. Upon arriving at the front entrance, you will find a 6-space parking lot. Not a lot, but don’t fret. Parking is available on the street in a residential neighborhood. There are also other parking lots on Batiquitos Drive adjacent to the main trail.

We started by taking the short pathway on the right of the entrance. It leads to the bridge under the I-5. On the day we tried it, we didn’t get to the bridge because the shoreline was muddy and the path above it was too rocky for our liking.

But no fear. The real trail is to the left of the entrance. You will go past the Nature Center and continue along the lagoon. It’s a 3.25-mile out and back trail that will take you past the Aviara Golf Course. The trail is on a dirt path and there’s no incline so it’s a pleasant hike. Adding to the pleasantness are several benches that allow hikers to sit and enjoy the view.

One thing to note is the hike doesn’t take you too far away from the busy freeway so you will hear a constant hum of traffic. The sound does lessen the further you walk along the path, but it may not be the hike for you if you’re looking for tranquility.

Along the path you will find Prickly Pear Cactus, Eucalyptus trees, Mojave Yucca, Coyote Brush and Yellow Mustard that bloom in the Spring. Coastal honeysuckle and salt marsh fleabane add a pop of color in September.

More than 200 species of birds have been spotted at the lagoon, including California Least Tern, Belding’s Savannah Sparrow, California Brown Pelican, Snowy Plover and California Gnatcatcher, Great Egrets, Great Blue Heron and hawks and osprey.

Highlights: Keep your eyes on the water in the lagoon for a cool sight — that of mullet fish jumping several inches out of the water. The fish jump for a number of reasons, including to clean muck off their gills so they can breathe better.

Batiquitos means little watering hole, but it offers a lot to enjoy. For more information, visit

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