I had the pleasure to spend a Saturday with my family at a park many San Diegans have probably driven by on the way to La Jolla or Claiermont and not even have known it was there. Marian Bear Memorial Park is located in San Clemente Canyon stretching from Interstate 5 to Interstate 805. The park provides a natural setting in the midst of a bustling urban area. The 467 acres of dedicated natural parkland include finger canyons and mesas on the south side with a rich and diverse history.
There are two main parking lots to access the park and they are both on the South side of the 52 freeway. The Genesee Ave Parking lot is more or less in the middle of the park and that is the one we parked at. The Regents Road parking lot is closer to the 5 freeway and that one has a public bathroom & picnic tables.
The public can enjoy over three miles of mostly flat trails along the length of the canyon. More challenging hiking is available on the trails in several of the finger canyons leading up to the mesa tops. Biking is permitted on the maintenance roads in the canyon; no equestrian use is permitted.
I have posted some pictures from our hike in March 2020 and have more information from the San Diego City website below with more information and videos about the park its history.
When visiting the park, please observe the following rules:
- Keep dogs on a leash throughout the park.
- No fires or overnight camping.
- No firearms, air rifles, slingshots, or projectile devices.
- No glass containers.
- No alcoholic beverages.
- No off-road vehicle activity.
To report suspected illegal activity including transient encampments, encroachment onto City property or other maintenance needs, please call (858) 581-9961. In an emergency please call 9-1-1.
Marian Bear Memorial Park History
Marian Bear Memorial Park – Rededicated by the City Council of the City of San Diego on behalf of this City who are indebted to Marian Bear for her energetic and unselfish efforts as a planner, naturalist and conservationist and her lasting contributions toward the preservation of open space for future generations. July 31, 1979.
History of the Park
Native Americans have inhabited the area of San Diego County for 10,000 years. Evidence of their presence still remains in San Clemente Canyon. They camped around waterholes and streams, hunted game, and gathered wild foods from the area. While harvesting the abundant resources, Native Americans were aware of the balance between people and the environment.
In the late 19th century, this area was named Clemente Canyon for a Native American rancher. During the 1970s nature’s balance was threatened by plans to place state Route 52 along the canyon floor.
Marian Bear, an active community leader and environmentalist, worked tirelessly to preserve the canyons in their natural state. She was the driving force behind realigning the highway from the canyon floor to the north hillsides. In the 1980s another community campaign resulted in an additional 72 acres in the southeast section for the present total of 467 acres.
San Clemente Canyon
Over 40 million years ago an ocean covered San Clemente Canyon. Fossilized mollusks, such as snails and clams from that period are still found in the canyon walls. Horizontal lines of round rocks at many levels, separated by clay and sand, represent the various levels of the ocean washing sand away and leaving rocks at surf level. Wind and water erosion have also contributed to the depth of San Clemente Canyon. The creek now meanders down the floor of the canyon, which it continues to deepen and widen.
The main canyon and its tributaries continue to support a population of resident wildlife, including raccoons, skunks, rabbits, amphibians, reptiles and birds, and serve as a pathway for coyote, fox and other mammals. Along the length of the canyon are oak, sycamore and willow trees with their ever attendant undergrowth of native and other plant species. The native plant communities are closely related to the natural climatic zone in which they are found and the underlying soil in which they must grow.
The canyon has an intermingling of native plant communities, some of whose range is restricted to Southern California and northern Baja California. There is a riparian woodland along the creek beds and side canyons where water flows. The hillsides contain coastal sage scrub and chaparral, two plant communities characterized by their adaptation to survive prolonged drought and periodic brush fires.
You can find out more about the surrounding Rose Creek Watershed at: www.RoseCreekWaterShed.org
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