Parks and Rec

Go Green on Black Friday – Enjoy County Parks

Save green and enjoy the upside of outside with County Parks’ Green Friday events this weekend. The County Parks and Recreation Department has come up with a variety of fun activities starting Friday, Nov. 25 and stretching into Saturday, Nov. 26. Parking, or day-use fees, will be waived on Green Friday so visitors can picnic and play at dozens of parks, and explore 350 miles of trails for free!

Friday, Nov. 25: 

Hike at Santa Ysabel East Preserve

Get outside and enjoy the crisp Julian air among the area’s oaks and sycamores. You can bring the youngsters for the guided 3-mile hike or if you’re part of an older crowd, you can walk off that Thanksgiving feast with a 5 or 9-mile hike.

Meet our Animal Ambassadors

Real, live animals actually live at some of our County Parks. All ages are welcome to come find out about the feathered, reptilian kind at two separate parks. Rangers will be on site to talk about the habits of these critters, like what they eat, where they hunt, where they sleep and why they are important to San Diego’s ecosystems.

Sycamore Canyon/Goodan Ranch

  • 9 – 11 a.m.
  • Goodan Ranch Staging Area, 16281 Sycamore Canyon Road, Poway, CA 92064
  • (858) 513-4737

Meet chickens Sammie and Ruthie, with “special guests” in the form of a red-tailed hawk, Harris hawk, American kestrel falcon and great horned owl.

San Elijo Lagoon and Ecological Reserve

  • 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • 2710 Manchester Avenue, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92024
  • (760) 634-3026

Meet Franklin the tortoise!

Sunset Hike and Picnic

Pack a picnic and then check out the historic Flume Trail. As the sun sets over the mountains, get out the picnic goodies and enjoy the view! All ages are welcome.

  • 3 – 5 p.m.
  • El Monte County Park
  • 15805 El Monte Road, Lakeside, CA 92040
  • (619) 443-1474
  • Wear layered clothing and sturdy shoes

Volunteer Ventures

Here’s a chance to get a workout, enjoy the outdoors and do good at the same time. County Parks and Recreation needs volunteer help with two projects.

San Dieguito County Park bridges need a fresh coat of sealant. Teenagers and older are welcome. They should wear painting clothes, sturdy shoes, hats and sunscreen and bring water and snacks.

  • 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  • 1628 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Del Mar, CA, 92014
  • (858) 565-3600
  • Registration

Felicita County Park needs vegetation volunteers to help spruce up Cactus Trail by pulling weeds and setting new plants along this popular trail. All age are welcome. Volunteers should wear comfortable clothes and sturdy shoes. Bring along some water and snacks, too.

  • 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
  • 742 Clarence Lane, Escondido, CA 92029
  • (760) 745-4379
  • Registration

Saturday, Nov. 26:

Junior Park Rangers

Do your kids love science and nature? Park staff will be hosting a kid-friendly event at Stelzer County Park where they’ll talk about birds, plants, geology and even local history. They’ll also lead a short hike so make sure your youngsters are wearing sturdy shoes and sun protection. Bring along some water, too. A $3 day-use fee per vehicle applies.

  • 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • Stelzer County Park
  • 11470 Wildcat Canyon Road, Lakeside, CA 92040
  • (619) 561-0580

Juggling and Circus Acts

Learn how to juggle or walk the slackline or both at the same time! Wear closed-toe shoes and bring your own juggling props – or use the provided clubs, balls, poi and batons. Ranger Alex will give beginner/intermediate lessons for this kid-friendly event. A $3 day-use fee per vehicle applies.

 Turtle and Tortoise Show

Meet some tortoises and learn all about them from guest speakers with the San Diego Turtle and Tortoise Society. You can get a hands-on experience with the California desert tortoise, African Sulcata tortoise and other tortoises. All ages are welcome. A $3 day-use fee per vehicle applies.

  • 2 – 3 p.m.
  • Agua Caliente County Park
  • 39555 Great Southern Overland Stage Route of 1849, in the desert below Julian, CA 92036
  • (760) 765-1188

These are just a few of the many activities available at County Parks. Try the hike at Annie’s Canyon at San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve or Martha’s Grove Trail at Sycamore Canyon Preserve. County Parks covers more than 50,000 acres of land and offers any number of opportunities to hike, picnic, stroll, play games or just nap under a shady tree. For more information about County Parks, visit


Tracy DeFore is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact