A wide variety of community programs are offered at Chollas Lake Park in San Diego’s Oak Park neighborhood. There are ranger-led wildlife “Meet the Neighbors” hikes around the small lake, Kumeyaay ethnobotany walks, youth fishing, fitness classes, crafts, an oral history project, archery and even a book club with its own scenic hangout!
Yesterday I went on a nature hike where I and a good number of visitors circled the shallow artificial lake while ranger Cary Goldstein identified and talked about the many birds and other animals we saw, some of which are feral.
The walk was level, about a mile long, easy, and very educational. We saw Chinese and African geese and learned how to tell them apart. We saw a turkey vulture circling high above the treetops. We saw blooming marsh fleabane at the water’s edge and California bulrushes where birds nest. We saw turtles swimming underwater and sunning on rocks. We saw mallards and coots and banded pigeons and Canada geese and curious California ground squirrels and a strange-looking Muscovy duck.
We learned so much I couldn’t begin to relate it all. Some very young walkers had hands raised and asked lots of good questions.
I was fascinated to learn Chollas Lake was created in 1901 as a source for drinking water when San Diego was rather small. Later it was used to cool United States Navy radio equipment back when the three largest structures in the city, at 600 feet tall, stood atop a hill above the lake. Those radio transmitter antennas were the first to receive a signal from Hawaii that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. (A blog concerning this will be coming up later.)
Today Chollas Lake Park is a place where nature thrives. It is also a place where people can recreate, relax and learn about this beautiful and interesting world we call home.
Visit the Chollas Lake Park website here.