Mission Trails Regional Park
Mission Trails Regional Park is the largest municipal park in California. Located about 10 miles east of downtown San Diego, Mission Trails Regional Park is well known to locals as the place to go for hiking. The Mission Trails Park has a large, modern building which is used as the information center. The information center has a gift shop, nature exhibits, and offers a fantastic view of the park. The hiking trails range from relaxing to intense and should be able to meet the expectations and requirements of any level hiker.
Mission Trails Regional Park is also home to the historic Old Mission Dam. From the information center, you can choose to hike to the Old Mission Dam in about an hour or you can choose to drive and park at the Old Mission Dam. Benches, picnic tables, and bathrooms are provided.
Old Mission Dam
Old Mission Dam was the first major irrigation project undertaken on the Pacific Coast. Made of stone and cement, the Old Mission Dam is 220 feet long, 13 feet wide and 12 feet high. Built to control the water from the San Diego River so it could be released to a sawmill and to irrigate the Mission San Diego de Alcala which is about five miles away. Also known as the Padre Dam, the Old Mission Dam was built over 200 years ago by the Kumeyaay Indians under the direction of the Mission San Diego de Alcala. The Spanish Crown sent Mexican engineers to California to initiate these types of projects while training the locals to become skilled craftsmen.
The Old Mission Dam is now part of the largest municipal park in California known as the Mission Trails Regional Park. The Old Mission Dam is very peaceful and the view is gorgeous.
From Interstate 8 take the I-8 to the Mission Gorge/Fairmount exit. Turn north onto Mission Gorge Road, then east at the Friars Road junction to continue on Mission Gorge Road. Follow Mission Gorge Road for 4.2 miles. Turn left onto Father Junipero Serra Trail. Continue driving on the Father Junipero Serra Trail for 1.8 miles passing by the pipe gate. You will see the Old Mission Dam parking lot on the left right after you pass the second pipe gate.