Magazine article Sunset

Holiday Hikes, Programs, and Bird-Watching at Rodeo Lagoon

Magazine article Sunset

Holiday Hikes, Programs, and Bird-Watching at Rodeo Lagoon

Article excerpt

Holiday hikes, programs, and bird-watching at Rodeo Lagoon

During the holidays, an outdoor jaunt that offers both dramatic scenery and brisk coastal air can make an invigorating break from seasonal indoor activity. Rodeo Lagoon, in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, offers a quiet, drift-wood-strewn ocean beach and a broad, bird-lively lagoon. It's just 11 miles from downtown department stores via the Golden Gate Bridge.

Once home to a cattle operation, Rodeo Lagoon may have earned its name in the 1800s, when--according to one story-- thousands of market-bound longhorns were loaded onto barges from this area. This time of year, the lagoon swells with winter rains, and its surrounding vegetation provides safe haven for hundreds of wintering birds. In December, the visitor center offers a number of free bird-watching outings, guided hikes, and holiday programs. Trips all start at the center. For most, no reservation is needed.

Bundled-up Birding runs from 9 to 11 the first and third Saturdays and second and fourth Sundays of the month. Dress warmly and bring binoculars for a 2-mile walk to see some of the wintering canvasback, pintail, and ruddy ducks, as well as resident egrets and herons.

Nature's Ornaments is offered from 1:30 to 3 on December 6 (reservations are required; 415/331-1540). You'll make tree ornaments with natural materials--from eucalyptus angels to teasel tassels. Fee is $1.50.

In Stories Around the Stove, from 2 to 3 on December 13, you'll hear seasonal tales told near the wood-burning stove in the visitor center. …

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