Guest blog by our fabulous local campaign partner, Annette Saul, certified arborist and Parks and Landscape Supervisor for the City of Santee. She has had a lead role in maintaining Santee’s status as a “Tree City USA,” creating and developing the annual SanTree Fest and creating the city’s Urban Forest Management Plan. Annette also maintains all of the parks and landscape within the City of Santee.
After recognizing its great potential for growth, a San Diego Union-Tribune editorial once declared that “All Roads Lead to Santee.” This suburban city, only 18 miles from the Pacific with a population of just over 50,000, is a hidden gem in the east of San Diego County. Santee is blessed to have the San Diego River run through it, creating a linear greenbelt that includes parks, trails and more than 1,100 acres of natural habitat.
If you hop on one of the many roads that lead to Santee, what can you expect to experience once you get here? A whole lot of beautiful parks and green spaces! Here are 5 local favorites:
1. San Diego River
The San Diego River bisects the City and is accessible from many different locations. There are trails along the river where you can go fishing or just enjoy the native landscape, birds and various wildlife species. The San Diego River Park Foundation is actively working to keep the river clean and healthy with volunteers and partnerships within the community.
Mast Park is located along the San Diego River at 9125 Carlton Hills Blvd in Santee. Its open space areas offer ample walking and biking trails. It’s also a great place to bird watch and to observe our many native trees and plants. The City actually recently created an educational Native Plant Garden along the Mast Park West Trail to help you put names to the natural species growing in the park.
Big Rock Park is located at 8125 Arlette St. in Santee next to the Mission Trails Regional Park’s Cowles Mountain Trailhead. Here you can begin a stunning several-mile hike to the top of Cowles Mountain. The park’s west side also has a large grove of native sycamore trees.
Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve is a beautiful 190-acre park surrounding seven scenic lakes all filled with recycled water. The park provides a safe and tranquil setting for camping, fishing, picnics, fitness, bird watching, boating and events. It also boasts six playgrounds, including a spray ground, mega tower and a boulder adventure course. It truly has something for everyone!
The easiest way to enjoy nature is to simply step right out the door of any home in Santee, which has an actively growing urban forest. In fact, the city has been named a Tree City USA for 10 years now, thanks to a robust inventory of 8,500 trees. For more information on the city’s tree species and locations, you can check out the San Diego County Tree Map.
It’s amazing what grows when a city invests from the ground up in its trees, parks and green spaces. From tourists to trees and birds to bicyclists, Santee’s worked hard to make sure everyone can enjoy the benefits of these wonderful natural resources. Whether you visit one of these five destinations or the many others around this great city, I hope you’ll visit soon and soak up the sun in our great urban outdoors!