SD - Hike - Mission Trails Ethnobotany Nature Walk (& Brunch)

  • Mon, May 30, 2022
  • 8:30 AM - 1:30 PM
  • Mission Trail Regional Park Visitor Center Outdoor Amphitheater


Great Outdoors - San Diego

Back by Popular Demand - Nature Walk:

Native Plants and Native Peoples of Mission Trails

(plus Optional Outdoor Meditation and Brunch)

Memorial Day, Monday May 30, 2022

  • 8:30 gather, morning meditation

  • 9:00 am ethnobotany overview and Q&A

  • 9:15 am 2-hour ethnobotany hike (limit 25 participants)

    • OR For those who cannot hike, tour the award-winning, highly accessible visitor center with exhibits and videos in their theatre

  • 12:00 pm Brunch - the Trails Eatery (or similar)

Join us for a fascinating walk and talk through the heart of Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP) and learn from Professor Michael Wilken-Robertson, Anthropologist, Naturalist, author of Kumeyaay Ethnobotany: Shared Heritage of the Californias, and esteemed SDGO member.

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This event is designed to be accessible and inclusive of all members of our LGBTQIA+ community and their allies. Those who enjoy silence and shared spiritual experience in nature, please come to the outdoor amphitheater (follow the concrete walkway to the right of the visitor center) for an inclusive, outdoor meditation led by Rev. Caedmon Grace (he/him) of MCC San Diego beginning at 8:30 a.m. The amphitheater is a short distance from the handicapped parking spaces at the top of the visitor center parking lot, and the entire facility is highly accessible.

At 9:00 a.m., Mike will provide an ethnobotanical overview and answer our questions. We’ll wrap up by 9:30 am and participants can either:

  • Join Mike on an easy, 2-mile roundtrip, relatively flat walk (175 ft. elevation gain overall) to the grinding rocks alongside the San Diego River that flows through the gorge, and along the way he will share about how indigenous peoples have long used many of the familiar native plants of the area for food, medicine, construction materials, tools, and ceremony. 

  • OR you can explore the award-winning visitor center, exhibits, and theater with films about the geography and history of the park and the native plant garden along the walkway to the amphitheater, with many plants in bloom at this time, all are easily accessible for those who rely on a walker or wheelchair for support.

We invite all LGBTQIA+ people and their allies to join us for this special holiday experience! Please be sure to mask-up when appropriate and social distance as needed, which is very easy. 

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Walk Details: We will meet at the MTRP Visitor Center Outdoor Amphitheater where we will see examples of the many animals and other critters that inhabit the area and also learn about how Kumeyaay territory extends from the coasts to the mountains and deserts. From there we will walk down the Riverside Grinding Site Trail, with stops all along the way to talk about native vegetation. The trail leads to one of the archaeological sites in the park: bedrock mortars and grinding slicks used by the Kumeyaay Indians for food preparation. 

From there we will head to the Visitor Center Loop Trail, which will take us through coastal sage scrub, chaparral, and riparian woodland habitats, where we will learn more about how the plants in these areas have been used in daily life as well as in stories and other aspects of native cosmology. Our guide, GO member Mike Wilken, is an anthropologist, naturalist, and author of the book Kumeyaay Ethnobotany: Shared Heritage of the Californias. 

Hosts: Mike Wilken and Steve Fitzgerald

Trails: Meet at Visitor Center amphitheater. From there walk to Riverside Grinding Site Trail and Visitor Center Loop Trail.

Length: ~2 miles 

Difficulty: EASY

Elevation Gain: ~175 feet 

RSVP: RSVP required.

Meeting Location: bv Google Map:

Directions to the Visitor and Interpretive Center: 

Address: 1 Father Junipero Serra Trail, San Diego, CA 92119

Meeting Date & TimeMemorial Day, Monday May 30, Gather and meditation @ 8:30am, Ethnobotany Introduction @ 9:00am, Hike @9:15 am, Brunch @12 pm.

ParkingLimited parking is available at the parking area by the MTRP Visitor Center. Numerous spaces are reserved for those with handicapped card at top of the lot. See the google pin meeting spot. Ample parking is also available at overflow parking area at Mission Gorge and Jackson, however it is about a 20 minute walk to the Visitor Center, and should not be needed at that hour of the morning.

Cost: There is no fee for parking or entry to the park. 

Time CommitmentPlan for as little as 2 (hike only) or up to 5 hours (including meditation and brunch)

Dogs: Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash. Lots of foxtails and bees right now.

Trail Details: The first part of the trail goes gently down from the Visitor Center to the grinding rock area by the creek. From there we return to the Visitor Center loop; here is more detailed info:

Note: These do not depict the exact route we will be taking, but they provide valuable information.

What to Bring:

  • Ten Essentials

  • Phone/camera 

  • Warm/cool weather clothing

  • Any prescription or other needed medications

  • Sun protection (hat, sunglasses, sunblock, lip block)

Cell Phone Service: No reception issues anticipated.

Health Problems/Allergies: It is the responsibility of participants to carry on their person a record of significant allergies, medications and medical history in the event of a medical emergency. Discuss any medical concerns with a trip leader if you wish. Bees have been reported in the area. 

Contact/Question: If you have any questions not addressed by the information above or on our registration page, please feel free to contact the trip leaders: Steve Fitzgerald ( and Mike Wilken (

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