San Dieguito River Valley ConservancySan Dieguito
River Valley Conservancy

Watershed Explorers

Volcan Mountain


Led by the Volcan Mountain Foundation, students travel through mature conifer and oak forest to take a guided hike to the top of the Sky Island Trail where they observe the San Dieguito Watershed from a mile above sea level. They then head back down to VMF’s Volcan Mountain Nature Center stopping at the year-round spring that feeds the San Dieguito River. Along the way they explore the riparian habitat and its inhabitants and test the water for its ability to support life in the watershed. At the nature center, students participate in a hands-on demonstration of how watersheds function by creating a spray bottle “rainstorm” over a 3D relief map of the Volcan Mountain Range.


Students will:

  • understand they live in a watershed, what it is, how it works, and its relevance to their lives;
  • explore and experience the biodiversity of a watershed through observations;
  • conduct water quality tests to assess the health of the watershed; and
  • commit to watershed conservation and encourage others to do the same.


Made possible by a grant from The San Diego Foundation

Material compiled by:

The San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy

The San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority

The Volcan Mountain Foundation

San Diego Archaeological Center

Material generously contributed by:

The San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy

California Performance Expectations & Dimensions 

Note: This program can assist with meeting the following Performance  Expectations and Dimensions from California’s Next Generation Science  Standards (NGSS).  

Grade 5: 5-PS3-1; 5-LS1-1; 5-LS2-1; 5-ESS2-1; 5-ESS2-2; 5-ESS3-1. 

Grades 6-8: MS-LS1-4; MS-LS1-5; MS-LS1-6; MS-LS1-7; MS-LS1-8; MS-LS2-1; S-LS2-2;  MS-LS2-3; MS-LS2-4; MS-LS2-5; MS-ESS2-1; MS-ESS2-2; MS-ESS2-3; MS-ESS2-4; MS ESS2-5; MS-ESS2-6; MS-ESS3-1; MS-ESS3-2; MS-ESS3-3; MS-ESS3-4; MS-ESS3-5. 

Grades 9-12: HS-LS2-6; HS-LS2-8; HS-LS4-6; HS-ESS1-5; HS-ESS1-6; HS-ESS2-1; HS-ESS2- 4; HS-ESS2-5; HS-ESS3-1; HS-ESS3-4; HS-ESS3-5; HS-ESS3-6.

Free Course

Grade Level: 5, 6-8, 9-12

Subject Areas: Science, Watersheds

Setting: Field Trip