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Tecolote Canyon trail: A hidden gem in Clairemont Mesa

Wildflowers along the trail

Living in the vast expanse of San Diego County provides a unique degree of sun, sea, and splendor for its residents. Nature’s playground exemplifies itself through the innumerable hiking trails that pepper the landscape of San Diego. From Torrey Pines to El Cajon, countless hikes can be discovered for any and all skill levels and ages if one only has the time to explore. But as all good things are, some take a little more of a search to find the treasure within — the Tecolote Canyon trail is a short but sweet excursion, providing a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, while remaining comfortably close to suburban San Diego.

The Tecolote Canyon area was originally used by the Kumeyaay Indians, before being settled and farmed in the late 19th century. The land was acquired by the City of San Diego in 1978, who turned it into a public walking trail. Loose cattle still roamed the canyon by the early 1950s, and this untamed spirit remains on the trail to this day.

Starting on the corner of Chateau Dr. and Genesee, this 1.3-mile trail winds its way through the oak-populated canyon, finally spilling out onto Balboa Ave. Its modest length and generally flat landscape make it an easy and leisurely hike for all ages, with different routes providing a more challenging experience for those who desire it. An alternative, much shorter route ends at the Mt. Etna community park/baseball field. Mostly shielded from the sun by the heavy canopy of broad-leaved trees, it is an airy and pleasant journey on even the hottest summer day.

Walking along the trail, one can expect to see a number of small creeks and fallen trees along with a variety of unique plants and wildlife. As well as being home to several endangered species of birds, it houses the coastal barrel cactus, Nuttall’s scrub oak, and a plethora of striking wildflowers. California poppies and Mexican sunflowers make a beautiful backdrop for photography, quiet meditation, or even student films (as recently witnessed). 

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When arriving at the end of the trail, visitors might be surprised to come across a large tunnel forming somewhat of an underpass beneath Balboa Ave. The graffiti-covered tunnel is known by Clairemont locals as an urban art exhibition, ever-changing with time and outdoor conditions. The acoustics also make it perfect for speeches, songs, or any other oratorical expressions… as long as one doesn’t mind getting their feet wet!

Out of the many natural experiences in San Diego, the Tecolote Canyon trail holds a unique degree of remoteness while remaining within the suburbs. Just across the street from a residential neighborhood, anybody can have the opportunity to escape into nature for an hour out of the day without leaving civilization behind.

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About the Contributors
Frankie Mann
Frankie Mann, News/Opinions Editor
Frankie Mann, is the News and Opinions Editor of The Mesa Press. She is a second year student at Mesa, and plans on transferring to SDSU at the end of the 2023-2024 year under a journalism major. While not in class, she is most likely at work as a barista at S3 Coffee Bar (the one struggling behind the bar to make some decent latte art). In her free time, she enjoys ballet, surfing, skateboarding, and spending time in nature and with friends. Frankie hopes to use her journalistic skills to further peaceful relations amongst the people of the world, and bring about positive change and social justice for all.
Cameron San Agustin
Cameron San Agustin, Staff Writer
Cameron San Agustin is journalism major for his second year at San Diego Mesa College. His goal is to transfer to San Diego State University after this semester to obtain his bachelor degree in journalism. On his free time he is a musician and works at Salt and Straw in Little Italy.  He plays drums for a few bands and will be seen playing some small gigs around San Diego.
Donate to The Mesa Press
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