Walking the Otay River Trail to Hollister Pond.

There’s a beautiful pond in San Diego’s South Bay that few seem to know about. It’s called Hollister Pond. It’s located near the west end of the large Otay Valley Regional Park.

I walked down a dirt trail to this hidden pond yesterday.

I started from Hollister Street, a short distance north of where it crosses the Otay River. The Otay River Trail heads west and soon reaches a small observation platform at the north edge of the pond.

I saw nobody else on the trail on a sunny Saturday morning. Profuse litter and graffiti seem to indicate the presence of homeless people and perhaps gang activity in the area. So if you choose to walk here, be advised. But the hike is very easy and you will be rewarded by seeing hundreds of ducks, herons and other birds out on the water.

According to an information sign at the observation platform, Hollister Pond, like many other ponds along the Otay River valley, is actually a water-filled abandoned quarry, where sand and gravel was commercially mined. Wildlife one can find on or around the pond include the Snowy Egret, Mallard Duck and Baja California Tree Frog.

After taking in the sparkling scenery, I continued west on the Otay River Trail, which passes through the darkness underneath Interstate 5, then passes a sign concerning preventable urban pollution. Unfortunately, hundreds of toxic spray paint cans are tossed along the river by those vandalizing the park with graffiti.

The trail then turns south and crosses over the Otay River bed. It’s a spot that likely becomes impassable after a good rain.

As I walked I took photographs of trees and native plants in the warm sunlight.

The trail eventually reaches a small parking lot behind a Home Depot at the north end of Saturn Boulevard in Imperial Beach. The area features a kiosk, picnic table, and several people who appeared to be using drugs, whom I avoided.

If you’d like to go on a small daytime adventure in the South Bay, consider a visit to Hollister Pond! Google Maps shows the “Walking Path” that leads to it.

But please be careful and safe.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

River birds, golden ripples, reflections.

Sometimes you’re just walking along when out of the blue lightning strikes. Your eyes open wide. You understand how essentially beautiful this world is.

I took these photographs on an ordinary autumn morning as I walked along the San Diego River in Mission Valley.

The golden ripples and reflections were everywhere. So were the birds.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

A walk by the beautiful river in Santee.

Marker beside the San Diego River Trail in Santee.
Marker beside the San Diego River Trail in Santee.

Yesterday I walked along a section of the beautiful San Diego River in Santee.

I started from Cuyamaca Street and headed west down the San Diego River Trail. When I reached the east edge of Mast Park, I turned south onto a dirt path, crossed the river via a footbridge, then turned back west once I reached a trail that follows the south side of the river. I continued west along a wooden fence until it came to an end, then turned back to Cuyamaca Street.

Here are my photos.

Starting west from Cuyamaca Street on the north side of the river.
Starting west from Cuyamaca Street on the north side of the river.

View toward the river broadens from the trail.
View toward the river broadens from the trail. (I continued to walk west and didn’t follow this particular dirt path.)

A bat box near the river.
A bat box near the river.

Sign at Mast Park describes habitat of the San Diego River Ecosystem. Snakes, lizards, turtles and ducks live here.
Sign at Mast Park describes habitat of the San Diego River Ecosystem. Snakes, lizards, turtles and ducks live here, plus many other birds.

Beginning south down a dirt path toward the river.
Beginning south down a dirt path toward the river.

Bright foliage.
Bright river foliage.

A wet, marshy area near the river's edge.
A wet, marshy area at the river’s edge.

Approaching a footbridge that spans the San Diego River.
Approaching a footbridge that spans the San Diego River.

Looking west from the bridge on a summer's day. It hasn't rained for a long time. The river here resembles a series of small lakes.
Looking west from the bridge on a summer’s day. It hasn’t rained for a long time. The river here resembles a series of small lakes.

Looking east from the bridge.
Looking east from the bridge.

Continuing south.
Continuing south.

Light in leaves.
Light in leaves.

Duckweed in pooled river water.
Duckweed in pooled river water.

Another sign south of the river. Except for the largemouth bass, all the creatures shown are native to California and the river.
Another sign south of the river. Except for the largemouth bass, all the creatures shown are native to California and the river.

Looking back north. I now turned west again and continued my walk.
Looking back north. I now turned west again and continued my walk.

A sign tells people to keep away from the endangered Least Bell's Vireo nesting area.
A sign tells people to keep away from the endangered Least Bell’s Vireo nesting area.

Following a wooden fence.
Following a wooden fence.

More light in leaves.
More light in leaves.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Santee street art shows kids by the river.

This afternoon I went for a walk by the beautiful San Diego River in Santee.

As I headed up Cuyamaca Street approaching the river and a sign indicating Mission Creek Trail, I noticed a large electrical box painted with faded street art. Its sides depict kids by the river playing, fishing or skipping stones.

Part of the image on the box’s street side is blotted out; another side was jammed against some bushes, making photography without scratched arms problematic.

I hope you enjoy these two photos that I was able to capture!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Walking east along the Sweetwater River.

A couple weekends ago I walked a very short segment of the Sweetwater River Bikeway, from Hoover Avenue west to the Pier 32 Marina. You can revisit those photos here.

Today I returned to the Sweetwater River and walked east along the bikeway from Hoover Avenue all the way to Plaza Bonita.

I was struck by the contrasts.

The rocky-sided river channel, as seen looking down from Interstate 5, appears almost barren, but when you walk along the bike path you notice many plants among the broken rocks, and the ones that are deep-rooted were very green in the summer sunlight.

During the day bicyclists and runners passed me by as I slowly walked, and the nearby busy westbound lanes of U.S. Route 54 sometimes came into view. But late at night, the scene is obviously very different. There was graffiti which increased as I progressed east to Interstate 805. There was trash and frequent evidence of homelessness. As I came into the vicinity of Interstate 805, I passed several active homeless encampments. And the graffiti spoke of gang activity, with references to drugs and death.

But as I headed east, the river also became more alive. A marshy wetland appeared with discarded shopping carts and happily paddling ducks. Trees began to flourish along the banks, and eventually grew so thick they concealed a river full of reeds and lush greenery.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Walking part of the Sweetwater River Bikeway.

View of Interstate 5 over the Sweetwater River from the Gordy Shields Bayshore Bikeway Bridge.
View of Interstate 5 over the Sweetwater River from the Gordy Shields Bayshore Bikeway Bridge.

In my last blog post, I shared some photos that I took during yesterday’s walk along part of the Sweetwater River Bikeway. Those surprisingly artistic images were from the path beneath Interstate 5.

Now I’ll share additional photographs from my walk.

I began at the trailhead at the south end of Hoover Avenue. Once I reached the Sweetwater Bikeway, I headed west along the river, with a short detour to check out the Gordy Shields Bayshore Bikeway Bridge.

If you recognize Paradise Marsh and those overgrown old railroad tracks, that might be because a couple years ago I posted photos of them a little farther north here.

I walked onto the Sweetwater Bikeway from the trailhead at Hoover Avenue and W. 33rd Street in National City.
I walked onto the Sweetwater Bikeway from the trailhead at Hoover Avenue and W. 33rd Street in National City.

Turning a corner, about to go under a ramp from I-5 to U.S. Route 54.
Turning a corner, about to go under a ramp from I-5 to U.S. Route 54.

Here comes a Blue Line San Diego trolley!
Here comes a Blue Line San Diego trolley!

About to find myself on the Sweetwater River Bikeway.
About to find myself on the Sweetwater River Bikeway.

I begin walking west toward various bridges.
I begin walking west toward various bridges.

This guy and his bike found some summer shade by the water.
This guy and his bike found some summer shade by the water.

If you continue west, you eventually reach Pepper Park.
If you continue west, you eventually reach Pepper Park.

Bicyclists on Sweetwater Bikeway about to go under Interstate 5.
Bicyclists on Sweetwater Bikeway about to go under Interstate 5.

I took a bunch of cool photos under the freeway and shared them on my previous blog post!
I took a bunch of cool photos under the freeway and shared them on my previous blog post!

The head of a bicyclist is visible coming down the Gordy Shields Bayshore Bikeway Bridge.
The head of a bicyclist is visible coming down the Gordy Shields Bayshore Bikeway Bridge.

I turn for a moment to look back east.
I turn for a moment to look back east.

The Gordy Shields Bridge is dedicated to a civic leader who advocated for bicycling.
The Gordy Shields Bridge is dedicated to a civic leader who advocated for bicycling.

Now I'm walking south on the bike bridge, heading over the Sweetwater River channel.
Now I’m walking south on the bike bridge, heading over the Sweetwater River channel.

Looking east at traffic on Interstate 5.
Looking east at traffic on Interstate 5.

A guy on a skateboard passed me.
A guy on a skateboard passed me.

Looking west down the Sweetwater River channel toward San Diego Bay. That's Pier 32 Marina on the right.
Looking west down the Sweetwater River channel toward San Diego Bay. That’s an old train bridge. That’s the Pier 32 Marina beyond it on the right.

Someone made this cool peace sign out of some artificial wreath material.
Someone made this cool peace sign out of some artificial wreath material.

Another look east. That peak in the distance is San Miguel Mountain.
Another look east. That peak in the distance is San Miguel Mountain.

Freeway ramp swings south over part of San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
Freeway ramp swings south over part of San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Sign at intersection of Bayshore Bikeway and Sweetwater River Bikeway.
I’m back by the water’s edge. A sign at the intersection of the Bayshore Bikeway and Sweetwater River Bikeway.

Biking west along the river channel.
Biking west along the river channel.

Continuing west. Lots of bikes out today!
Continuing west. Lots of bikes out for the weekend!

Looking north at Paradise Marsh, part of San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
Looking north at Paradise Marsh, part of San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Part of Paradise Creek, which winds its way through the protected marshland.
Part of Paradise Creek, which winds its way through the protected marshland.

Paradise Marsh is a refuge for many local and migratory birds.
Paradise Marsh is a refuge for many local and migratory birds.

These old train tracks pass south over the Sweetwater River on a bridge that is no longer in use.
These old train tracks pass south over the Sweetwater River on a bridge that is no longer in use.

At this point the Sweetwater Bikeway turns away from the river and starts around the Pier 32 Marina.

That’s all for now!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Cool photos under I-5, over Sweetwater River!

Check out these very cool photos!

Yesterday I walked a little around National City. When I found myself under Interstate 5, where it passes over the Sweetwater River, my camera got really busy!

You might not think a freeway bridge over a channel of water would make for such interesting photographs. But I was stunned!

Some of those curving ramps you see overhead lead to U.S. Route 54, which runs parallel here to the Sweetwater River.

If you wonder about the bicycles, this is where the Sweetwater Bikeway intersects the Bayshore Bikeway. I saw lots of people out cycling in the sunshine–and through the dark shadows…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Wildlife arrives at San Diego River Discovery Center!

Native birds and wildlife arrived today at the San Diego River Discovery Center! Or, to be more precise, banners featuring images of river critters were hung today on a construction fence that surrounds the future nature center!

Did you know something cool is being built next to the San Diego River in Mission Valley?

The San Diego River Discovery Center at Grant Park is going to be where people of all ages gather to experience and learn about the natural environment along the San Diego River!

I blogged about this project in the past here. They’ve made progress since then, as you can see in one upcoming photo.

If you want to learn about the future nature center and how you might help make this dream a reality, visit the San Diego River Discovery Center website here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Morning walk by the San Diego River estuary.

Early this morning, light and life were both rising along the San Diego River estuary.

I didn’t walk far along the water–perhaps a quarter mile west from the Interstate 5 bridge.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Help build the San Diego River Discovery Center!

Look what I discovered today!

While driving down Qualcomm Way, I noticed a couple of new signs by the San Diego River indicating that “The San Diego River Discovery Center at Grant Park” is coming to Mission Valley!

The San Diego River Discovery Center at Grant Park is a project of the San Diego River Park Foundation. The following is an overview taken from their website:

“Imagine a place that provides hands-on science based nature education and experiences to 25,000 kids each year! For many of these kids, it will be their very first experience!

Imagine a place which celebrates the San Diego River as an important ecological resource and inspires the next generation of River and nature stewards.

In May 2009, this vision of a new place where people could enjoy and connect with the San Diego River took a major step forward when the San Diego River Park Foundation signed a donation agreement with a remarkable family, the Grants. This longstanding San Diegan family decided to donate their 17-acre river-fronting property to benefit the community of Mission Valley and San Diego in general.

With this inspiring action, the San Diego River Discovery Center at Grant Park was born.

This 17-acre site is in the heart of Mission Valley. Prominently located at the northeast corner of Qualcomm Way and Camino del Rio North, the site is easily accessible by foot, bicycle, trolley, bus and automobile.

Grant Park is being designed to serve as a nature-based park, learning center and a gateway to exploring our San Diego River.”

All the legal hurdles to begin grading have been cleared–now the San Diego River Park Foundation just needs to raise some additional funds.

After work I walked around the general area where the park and nature center will be built and took photos.

To learn how you can make a donation, click here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!