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Appreciate a cross-section of San Diego’s diverse ethnic population

Discover East San Diego's Chollas Lake, a shady place for summer walking and jogging.

Right off the 94 Freeway in San Diego's Oak Park neighborhood, a dense grove of eucalyptus trees conceals one of the more pleasant oases of the inner city: Chollas Lake Park. On any warm, summer evening, as the sun's coppery rays and a cooling breeze sifts through the aromatic leaves, a hundred people or more are making their way on foot and bikes around the curving, unpaved trackway surrounding the lake.

People-watching along the lake's 0.8-mile looping path is always interesting, as you'll see a fairly representative cross-section of San Diego's diverse ethnic population. Most people circle this perimeter trail in the counterclockwise direction. If you travel clockwise, you'll soon have a nodding acquaintance with nearly every visitor.

Chollas refers to the native coastal cholla cactus that grows in sometimes-dense clusters on undisturbed hillsides from here through parts of east and southeast San Diego toward San Diego Bay. Cultivated specimens of this fearsome plant can be seen along the park's short nature trail, which rises north of the lake. Below (west of) the earthen dam lie more chollas in their native habitat, clinging to steep, dry slopes.

The below-the-dam section of the park, a broad canyon rimmed on its north side by a tall and obviously artificial berm of earth, is crisscrossed by dirt roads and single-track pathways -- all good for additional exercise. At one time this bowl-shaped depression was slated to receive municipal refuse, but that never panned out. Today, planners look forward to converting this somewhat raw-looking landscape into more civilized parkland -- and indeed the picnic ground on the canyon rim and a new ball field in the canyon bottom are partial realizations of this goal.

The entrance to Chollas Lake Park is located on College Grove Drive, 0.2 mile west of College Grove Way and west of the College Grove regional shopping center. The main parking lot often fills to capacity, but plenty of additional off-street parking is available in the picnic area farther west on College Grove Drive. The park is open from 6:30 a.m. to sunset. Call 619-527-7683 for more information.

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Right off the 94 Freeway in San Diego's Oak Park neighborhood, a dense grove of eucalyptus trees conceals one of the more pleasant oases of the inner city: Chollas Lake Park. On any warm, summer evening, as the sun's coppery rays and a cooling breeze sifts through the aromatic leaves, a hundred people or more are making their way on foot and bikes around the curving, unpaved trackway surrounding the lake.

People-watching along the lake's 0.8-mile looping path is always interesting, as you'll see a fairly representative cross-section of San Diego's diverse ethnic population. Most people circle this perimeter trail in the counterclockwise direction. If you travel clockwise, you'll soon have a nodding acquaintance with nearly every visitor.

Chollas refers to the native coastal cholla cactus that grows in sometimes-dense clusters on undisturbed hillsides from here through parts of east and southeast San Diego toward San Diego Bay. Cultivated specimens of this fearsome plant can be seen along the park's short nature trail, which rises north of the lake. Below (west of) the earthen dam lie more chollas in their native habitat, clinging to steep, dry slopes.

The below-the-dam section of the park, a broad canyon rimmed on its north side by a tall and obviously artificial berm of earth, is crisscrossed by dirt roads and single-track pathways -- all good for additional exercise. At one time this bowl-shaped depression was slated to receive municipal refuse, but that never panned out. Today, planners look forward to converting this somewhat raw-looking landscape into more civilized parkland -- and indeed the picnic ground on the canyon rim and a new ball field in the canyon bottom are partial realizations of this goal.

The entrance to Chollas Lake Park is located on College Grove Drive, 0.2 mile west of College Grove Way and west of the College Grove regional shopping center. The main parking lot often fills to capacity, but plenty of additional off-street parking is available in the picnic area farther west on College Grove Drive. The park is open from 6:30 a.m. to sunset. Call 619-527-7683 for more information.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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