San Diego Canyonlands

Canyon Enhancement Planning


There are over 150 canyons throughout urban San Diego.

They provide urban dwellers with valuable open space that provides a range of benefits. They harbor incredible biodiversity. Their "green infrastructure" provides valuable ecosystem services, including work to clean and filter our urban runoff, as well as mitigating the urban heat island effect to cool our city. They also provide an escape to nature from an otherwise completely paved and urbanized environment. Development around these areas has left a legacy of neglect and degradation. These precious open spaces are in dire need of enhancements, including safe and enjoyable access (physical and/or visual), wetland and upland habitat restoration, and taking advantage of the opportunities to integrate this natural space into the fabric of our urban environment. That's the aim of Canyon Enhancement Planning.

After the adoption of the City of San Diego General Plan in 2008 (Applicable General Plan Objectives call for the protection and enhancement of San Diego's canyons, including linking them together into an open space system that is integrated into the fabric of our built environment), San Diego Canyonlands (SDCL) established the Canyon Enhancement Planning Committee of urban design visionaries, professional landscape architects, and others to create a Canyon Enhancement Planning Program for community stakeholders, to help implement this vision. The CEP Program and the associated CEP Guide is helping to facilitate a systems approach for implementing a regional vision that weaves our natural open spaces with the fabric of the urban environment, to gain progress towards opportunities like visual and physical canyon access, restoration, preservation, environment-based education and ecologically sensitive recreation. 

Canyon Enhancement Planning Graphic.jpg
Map City Heights Canyons Enhancement & Trails Project  Download Map

Map City Heights Canyons Enhancement & Trails Project Download Map

Pilot Project Area (Began 2009): City Heights Canyons Loop Trail

In 2009, SDCL began implementing CEP in City Heights, an underserved and park-deficient community in central San Diego. SDCL began with Manzanita Canyon as its pilot canyon, and - using a set of Existing Conditions Maps (see below) - held a series of five stakeholder planning workshops. In 2011 the stakeholders finalized their Manzanita Canyon Enhancement Plan (see below). Progress was quickly made on several of the Enhancement Plan's projects, including USFWS funding for wetland restoration and a refurbished connector trail between Azalea Park and the south end of the canyon (formerly a dead end), completed with the help from Urban Corps volunteers and KTU&A Landscape Architect John Holloway.

CEP in City Heights continued through 2012 as SDCL completed Enhancement Plans for nearby Hollywood, Swan and 47th Street Canyons (see below). This successful community planning helped SDCL obtain a nearly $1 million in funding to implement the loop trail and other enhancement projects identified during the CEP process. The larger goal for City Heights Canyons was the creation of the loop trail that connects four City Heights Canyons.


Canyons and creeks are organized alphabetically. CAUTION: Maps are for planning purposes only. Any work to improve or create trails without appropriate permits/permissions from land owner/manager is illegal.

Auburn Creek Enhancement Planning Documents | City Heights Google map

CEP STATUS: Plan completed (2014), trail built, restoration implemented, routine events being held.

For background on the San Diego Canyonlands Creek Enhancement Planning (CEP) process and more information on Auburn Creek CEP, click: CEP Orientation Info

Auburn Creek Socio-Infrastructure Map

Vegetation Communities Map

Near Term Draft Concept Plan

Aug. 20, 2014 Stakeholder Meeting Notes

Aug. 20, 2014 Stakeholder Draft 

Long-Term and Near-Term Plan Notes

Sept. 24, 2014 Stakeholder Meeting Notes

Manzanita Canyon | City Heights Google map

CEP STATUS: Plan completed (2011), trails built, restoration implemented and being maintained, routine monthly events being held.

Enhancement Action Plan - Manzanita Canyon

Early Enhancement Plan (2009/2010)

Map Set - Manzanita (Lexington) Canyon Existing Conditions

Navajo Canyon | Navajo (Allied Gardens) Google map

CEP STATUS: Stakeholder planning process in progress.

Map - Current City Trail Map

Map - Socio-Infrastructural Conditions

Map - Vegetation Conditions

Map - Vegetation Communities-Holland

Map - Vegetation Communities-VMC

Map - Geotopographic & Viewshed Conditions

Rueda Canyon | Tierrasanta Google map

CEP STATUS: Plan completed.

Map - Socio-Infrastructural Conditions

Map- Vegetation Communities

Swan Canyon | City Heights Google map

CEP STATUS: Plan completed (2012), trails built, restoration implemented and being maintained, routine monthly events being held.

Enhancement Action Plan - Swan Canyon

Map - Socio-Infrastructural Conditions

Map - Geotopographic & Viewshed Conditions

Map - Vegetation Conditions

Map - Trail User Counts Results (Sept. 2011)

Tecolote Canyon (Kelly Park Area) | Linda Vista Google map

CEP STATUS: Partial mapping completed.

Map - Canyon Area Targeted for CEP

Map - Current City Trail Map