A hike down to the grinding rocks at Mission Trails.

Visitors enjoying Explore Mission Trails Day head down Grinding Rock Trail.
Visitors enjoying Explore Mission Trails Day head down Grinding Rock Trail.

About 60 miles of hiking trails through a wilderness environment can be found just 8 miles from downtown San Diego. Seriously!

This morning I enjoyed a very short walk (about a mile) at Mission Trails Regional Park. I went on the occasion of Explore Mission Trails Day, an annual event that showcases this amazing, enormous urban park.

The relatively easy hike was from the Visitor and Interpretive Center to some grinding rocks on the banks of the San Diego River, then back. Led by our guide, Linda, a small group learned what life was like for the ancient Kumeyaay people, who’ve lived in this dry, rugged area of Southern California for thousands of years, long before Europeans arrived. The Kumeyaay lived off the land. The very land where we walked.

We gathered at the kiosk near the parking lot for an easy morning nature walk.
We gathered at the kiosk near the parking lot for an easy morning nature walk.
Hiking through common, aromatic Southern California sagebrush toward distinctive mountain, South Fortuna.
Hiking through common, aromatic Southern California sagebrush toward a distinctive mountain, South Fortuna.
We pause under a coast live oak, which produces acorns and shade valued by the native Kumeyaay.
We pause under a coast live oak, which produces acorns and shade valued by the native Kumeyaay.
Large nest created by a woodrat (also known as pack rat). The Kumeyaay would bang a nest with a stick and hope to capture a snake, to eat.
Large nest created by a woodrat (also known as pack rat). The Kumeyaay would bang a nest with a stick and hope to capture a snake, to eat.
We cross a small wooden footbridge and take in nature's sights and smells on a beautiful day.
We cross a small wooden footbridge and take in nature’s sights and smells on a beautiful day.
These tiny pinkish white flowers are flat-top buckwheat. Their tiny seeds are edible. The blooms attract butterflies.
These tiny pinkish white flowers are flat-top buckwheat. Their tiny seeds are edible. The blooms attract butterflies.
It's easy to forget you are in the San Diego city limits in this open wilderness.
It’s easy to forget you are in the San Diego city limits in this open wilderness.
Water erosion visible in the gradually descending dirt trail. As the morning was overcast and cool, no snakes were out sunning.
Water erosion visible in the gradually descending dirt trail. As the morning was overcast and cool, no snakes were out sunning.
Yucca fibers were used by the Kumeyaay to make nets, sandles, baskets and other useful things.
Yucca fibers were used by the Kumeyaay to make nets, sandles, baskets and other useful things.
Linda, our tour guide, talks about the ancient history of this region and its indigenous peoples. The Kumeyaay moved about depending on the season and availability of resources.
Linda, our tour guide, talks about the ancient history of this region and its indigenous peoples. The Kumeyaay moved about depending on the season and availability of resources.
Dodder is an orange colored parasitic plant. According to Kumeyaay legend, a woman who failed to guard a camp against invaders ran away, and some of her hair snagged in the bushes!
Dodder is an orange colored parasitic plant. According to Kumeyaay legend, a woman who failed to guard a camp against invaders ran away, and some of her hair snagged in the bushes!
A patch of poison oak! Leaves of three, let it be!
A patch of poison oak! Leaves of three, let it be!
We approach the San Diego River, but first pass beneath a large arching tree. If you see a native tree in San Diego, there's probably water nearby!
We approach the San Diego River, but first pass beneath a large arching tree. If you see a native tree in San Diego, there’s probably water nearby!
Smooth boulders on the bank of the San Diego River in Mission Trails Regional Park.
Smooth boulders on a bank of the San Diego River in Mission Trails Regional Park.
Family investigates the life-giving water. The Kumeyaay at times would follow the river all the way to the coast, where some witnessed the landing of explorer Cabrillo.
Family investigates the life-giving water. The Kumeyaay at times would follow the river all the way to the coast, where some witnessed the landing of explorer Cabrillo.
Many mortar-like holes in the nearby boulders are where Kumeyaay ground acorns, seeds, roots, herbs and other edible resources found in this arid environment.
Many mortar-like holes in the nearby boulders are where Kumeyaay ground acorns, seeds, roots, herbs and other edible resources found in this arid environment.
Walking stick leans up near some Yucca fiber creations brought by our guide. The basket on the right was made with willow branches. Natural salicylic acid found in willows kept out insects!
Walking stick leans up near some Yucca fiber creations brought by our guide. The basket on the right was made with willow branches. Natural salicylic acid found in willows kept out insects!
Starting back up toward the Visitor Center during a very cool hike in San Diego! If you go for a hike, bring water and sturdy shoes!
Starting back up toward the Visitor Center during a very cool hike in San Diego! If you go for a hike, bring water and sturdy shoes!

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Published by

Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

5 thoughts on “A hike down to the grinding rocks at Mission Trails.”

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