Hello everyone! This is a friendly reminder that any of these fun places we may visit, we are a guest at. Please treat both businesses and trails with the utmost respect. We here at Hidden San Diego follow the 'Leave no Trace' mantra, meaning whatever you bring with you comes back with you. If you see trash on a trail, please do your part to help remove it. Remember, we are not picking up trash from another person but instead cleaning up for Mother Nature. Happy adventures!

1 Father Junipero Serra Trail
San Diego , CA 92119

Phone: (619) 668-3281
Parking Lot: 32.838885, -117.033874   Dam:32.839523, -117.043192

Hike: .6 miles 1 way from parking lot   Level: Easy

Dog-Friendly: Yes    Kid-Friendly: Yes


Father Junipero Serra Trail and the Old Mission Dam parking lot are open 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from November 1 through March 31, and 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. from April 1 through October 31.

The mission was founded in 1769 by Father Junipero Serra and its original settlement was actually at the location now known as Presidio Park, just above Old Town. But five years later, the mission was moved to its present location in Mission Valley, in part to have better access to dependable water (the San Diego River was actually a useful river back then).

Indigenous labor was used to build the dam and flume. As in other Spanish colonies, the Californian missionaries’ goals were to convert American Indians to Catholicism, control the culture, and administer Spanish law.

According to archaeologist Ruth Alter, the dam was built across the head of Mission Gorge, the 244-foot long, 13-foot thick, 13-foot wide dam was constructed of stone and cement on exposed bedrock, creating a permanent reservoir behind it. Water was released through gates and spillways into a six-mile long gravity fed tile lined flume, down the gorge and Mission Valley, ending in a settling basin near the Mission. Construction was completed by 1815 and the padres had the water they needed.

The usefulness of the dam to the mission would not last very long: the missions were secularized in 1833 and by 1867, the dam was in disrepair and mostly in ruins. The remains of the dam are still in place, but the flume system is long gone. Today, you can still visit the Old Mission Dam as part of the Mission Trails Regional Park. In fact, there is still a pool of water that is held back by the now historic structure.

The Old Mission Dam is a nationally registered historic landmark and a starting point for hikes into Oak Canyon, the East Fortuna Mountain region, or along Father Junipero Serra Trail and the San Diego River. This is an excellent area for bird watching and just relaxing. The pathway to the San Diego River is wheelchair accessible.

Unless you want to walk for a loooong time, I recommend driving through the gate to where the dam is. There are plenty of hiking grounds around the dam.

Old Mission DamOld Mission Dam

There's a nice viewpoint above the dam:

Locations Nearby:

None found

Subscribe to our E-mail Newsletter


6 Reviews

Rating 0
Overall Rating 0
Difficulty Finding 0

6 Reviews


  • Admin
    Rating Overall Rating Difficulty Finding

    Thank you for all your tips anon!!

    December 9, 2013

  • Anonymous
    Rating Overall Rating Difficulty Finding

    This is what one of the former security people had to say about Sycamore canyon Green farm (rail gun facility)—-

    Dennis says:

    May 26, 2013 at 9:28 am

    I was a (fairly) young Marine stationed at then NAS Miramar when Green Farm was still active. I sometimes patrolled that area and always found it interesting because I had no clue as to what was being worked on, until myself and two of my fellow Marines got drunk and went on a “recon” patrol. We were only able to access the machine shop area due to some dumb love leaving a window cracked for there plant. We did however find some blueprints (marked Classified) yet left out in the open and were able to look at the layout of the gun. We slipped out the same way we entered and left no trace of being there with the exception of removing one of many frozen rattle snakes tucked away in a freezer. If you head closer to the base access gate (may have changed over the last 25 years) there are (or were) both abandoned and active ordnance bunkers and a place called “check point 13″ which is a one room maintenance house for workers. Very cool places in and around East Miramar.

    January 8, 2014

  • Admin
    Rating Overall Rating Difficulty Finding

    I’ve been to the Goodan Ranch. Pretty ‘eh’ but I was still going to put it on my website. Unfortunately my memory card wiped out and erased all photos on it!

    January 10, 2014

  • Admin
    Rating Overall Rating Difficulty Finding

    Checked out the Radar facility ruins. Not much out there though thank you for the tip! Do you still go out to Sycamore? Would you ever take me and maybe 1 or 2 other ppl out there if so? I’ve held off on this one because I was waiting for a seasoned person to come with.

    January 10, 2014

  • Anonymous
    Rating Overall Rating Difficulty Finding

    No, I dont know either of them, but they spent much time writing those articles. They are probably experts on the area.. i already emailed Hesh one, no response from his AOL email.

    January 12, 2014

  • Admin
    Rating Overall Rating Difficulty Finding

    Are you friends with Heshone or the Slyworking? I am the admin for the Flikr community I think you’re talking about (Hidden San Diego). If you’re able to round up a few people I would love to tag along. I’ll ask around if any of my friends have gone there.

    January 12, 2014

Write a Review

In order for the map functionality to be enabled please input the Google Map API key in the General section of the UrbanGo Options

Contact info

Mission Trails Regional Park, 1 Father Junipero Serra Trail, San Diego, CA 92119, USA


Have an account?