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Birding San Diego County

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Symbols used on these pages:

"Easy Birder" Driving Routes:

   = Suitable for standard passenger vehicles

  = 4WD recommended (preferably high clearance)

Hiking Trails:

   = Easy: flat as a pancake with no inclines

    = Moderate: mostly flat but with some minor inclines

    = Strenuous: enough incline to kick in the asthma...

A note about the species charts:  The species tables on each site page reflect only my personal records when I've visited these sites; they are NOT comprehensive!  There are many places (particularly in the more heavily birded areas, such as Point Loma) that have official checklists that should be referenced for a complete species list. 

"Easy Birder" Driving Routes: 

These routes are especially for those birders who can't (or don't necessarily want to ☺) get out and walk easily.  Keep in mind that the birds are much more easily heard than seen along these roads.  Many of these routes concentrate on some of the more scenic back roads of the county, and most are passable for a standard passenger vehicle, but some are suitable only for a higher-clearance 4WD vehicle (for the most part, my Subaru Outback did fine, although I probably took him places I shouldn't have...)

A note about traffic:  Whereas all my scouting has been done during the week, where the traffic on the back roads is almost non-existent (and the notes on the site pages reflect this), please keep in mind that during the weekend this could drastically change, especially in popular ORV areas such as Corral Canyon!  Conversely, when birding along some of the paved roads during the week, be aware that many people who live out in the boonies commute to San Diego, so be watchful of rush hour morning traffic!

A note about fees:  While most of these routes are obviously free of charge, some pass through state park lands which require a day use fee.  If you choose to park your car and hike any trails in the Cleveland National Forest, a Forest Adventure Pass or Golden Eagle Pass (with hologram) is required; click here for more information.

Please note:  Many of these sites may have been adversely affected by the 2007 firestorms.  Those marked with a double asterisk are areas known to have damage.  My move to Texas precludes continued monitoring of the sites, so continued feedback regarding access would be appreciated!

Directions to every site is from Interstate 8 in the city of San Diego.

Banner Grade (Anza Borrego Desert SP/SR 78)

Black Canyon Road/Mesa Grande (Cleveland NF)**

Blair Valley/Pinyon Mountain (Anza Borrego Desert SP)

Boulder Creek Road (Cleveland NF)**

Bow Willow  & Vicinity (Anza Borrego Desert SP)

Cameron Valley (Cleveland NF)

Clark Dry Lake (Anza Borrego Desert SP)

Corral Canyon Road (Cleveland NF)

Cow Canyon/Lost Valley Loop (BLM/Cleveland NF)

Cuyamaca State Park and vicinity

De Luz Road (Fallbrook)**

Highland Valley Road (Ramona - Rancho Bernardo; San Pasqual Valley)**

Japatul Loop (Cleveland NF; Alpine; Viejas Indian Reservation)

Kitchen Creek Road (Cleveland NF)

La Posta Truck Trail (Cleveland NF)

McCain Valley (BLM)

Mission Bay Park

Mission Gorge (Mission Trails RP)

Montezuma Grade (S22; Anza Borrego Desert State Park)

Otay Mountain Road (BLM)**

Palomar Mountain (Nate Harrison Grade to Lake Henshaw; Palomar State Park & Cleveland NF)**

Pamo Valley (Cleveland NF)**

Pine Creek Road (Laguna Mountains Rec Area)

Salton City (Imperial Co.)

San Felipe Grade (S2; Anza Borrego Desert SP)

Santee Lakes (City of Santee)

Sunrise Highway (Laguna Mountains Rec Area)

Sutherland Dam Road (Ramona)**

Tijuana River Valley (includes Tijuana Valley Regional Park and Border Field State Park)

"Yaqui Triangle" (Anza Borrego Desert SP)

Some other selected birding sites:

Please note: as I've birded all over the county over the years, these are the only sites that I've been able to gather enough data to make web pages for.  San Diego Audubon's Birding Pages has an interactive map of several birding locations around the county as an additional resource. 

Blue Sky Preserve**

Cleveland National Forest (Misc. spots)

    Inaja Trail

    PCT @ Boulder Oaks

Dixon Lake

"Felicita Pond" and County Park

Lake Hodges**

Lake Jennings

Lindo Lake

Otay Lakes**

Penasquitos Canyon Preserve (including Lopez Canyon)

Point Loma Area

Ramona Pond

San Elijo Lagoon (incl. Cardiff State Beach)

Silver Strand (South San Diego Bay)

Sweetwater River Area**

Tijuana Slough NWR

Wildcat Canyon

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