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Enjoy salt-laden breezes and abundant bird life along the shore of Batiquitos Lagoon.

Just beyond the placid north shore of North County's Batiquitos Lagoon, white flecks of shell glint in the sunlight where the land begins to rise. Prior to around two centuries ago, and back as far as 8000 years before present, Native Americans gathered and consumed shellfish here. As generations of Indians discarded the shell remains, their middens (refuse piles) grew in size. They remain in evidence today, right alongside the lagoon's shoreline trail.

The Batiquitos Lagoon of prehistoric and early historic times lived up to its "lagoon" moniker. Seawater surged in and out on the tides, alternately bathing and uncovering the low-lying, salt-tolerant vegetation. For most of the past century, however, vast loads of soil loosened by agricultural activity and urban development on the lagoon's watersheds were flushed downstream during winter floods. Much of that silt dropped out of suspension near the lagoon's mouth, forming a plug that turned the lagoon into a stagnating freshwater lake.

In a giant leap backward, or forward as the case may be, a massive dredging and lagoon restoration project -- billed as one of the most significant efforts of its kind in the nation -- restored the lagoon to its prehistoric status in the past decade. Dredged sand and silt was piled up near the south shoreline to provide nesting sites for least terns and western snow plovers. Jetties were built at the lagoon's entrance to facilitate and maintain tidal flows.

Hikers and runners (horses and bicycles are not allowed) can explore the wide path along the lagoon's north shoreline anytime during daylight hours. You can start from the Batiquitos Lagoon nature center at the end of Gabbiano Lane in Carlsbad, or gain access to the middle sections of the trail from four parking lots along Batiquitos Drive. The wide, nearly level public trail curls along the lagoon's north shoreline to a point about two miles east of the nature center. From there, an informal trail continues another mile to El Camino Real.

The lagoon's nature center is open for visitation Wednesday through Friday, noon to 4 p.m., and Saturday/Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 760-931-0800 for more information.

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Just beyond the placid north shore of North County's Batiquitos Lagoon, white flecks of shell glint in the sunlight where the land begins to rise. Prior to around two centuries ago, and back as far as 8000 years before present, Native Americans gathered and consumed shellfish here. As generations of Indians discarded the shell remains, their middens (refuse piles) grew in size. They remain in evidence today, right alongside the lagoon's shoreline trail.

The Batiquitos Lagoon of prehistoric and early historic times lived up to its "lagoon" moniker. Seawater surged in and out on the tides, alternately bathing and uncovering the low-lying, salt-tolerant vegetation. For most of the past century, however, vast loads of soil loosened by agricultural activity and urban development on the lagoon's watersheds were flushed downstream during winter floods. Much of that silt dropped out of suspension near the lagoon's mouth, forming a plug that turned the lagoon into a stagnating freshwater lake.

In a giant leap backward, or forward as the case may be, a massive dredging and lagoon restoration project -- billed as one of the most significant efforts of its kind in the nation -- restored the lagoon to its prehistoric status in the past decade. Dredged sand and silt was piled up near the south shoreline to provide nesting sites for least terns and western snow plovers. Jetties were built at the lagoon's entrance to facilitate and maintain tidal flows.

Hikers and runners (horses and bicycles are not allowed) can explore the wide path along the lagoon's north shoreline anytime during daylight hours. You can start from the Batiquitos Lagoon nature center at the end of Gabbiano Lane in Carlsbad, or gain access to the middle sections of the trail from four parking lots along Batiquitos Drive. The wide, nearly level public trail curls along the lagoon's north shoreline to a point about two miles east of the nature center. From there, an informal trail continues another mile to El Camino Real.

The lagoon's nature center is open for visitation Wednesday through Friday, noon to 4 p.m., and Saturday/Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 760-931-0800 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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