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Mt. Helix Park COMPLETE Guide 🌟 [2022] | Plan Your Day at Mt. Helix

If you live anywhere near San Diego or are traveling in the area, you need to add Mt. Helix Park in La Mesa, California to your list of things to see and places to go. In this guide, you will learn where Mt. Helix Park is located, why you should visit, what you can do at the park, directions, parking, and favorite nearby attractions to maximize your day at the park.

What is Mt. Helix Park?

Mt. Helix is a historic amphitheater and nature preserve with a steep summit providing scenic views built in 1925. The views of the valley from the top make the park one of the most photographed locations in the San Diego area, as well as one of the top tourist attractions. Nicknamed “The Crown Jewel of East County”, the popular park is also used as a venue for weddings, lectures, non-profit organizations, fishing, and hiking.

Where is Mt. Helix Park? Mt. Helix Park is about 16 miles east of San Diego, located at 4901 Mt. Helix Drive, La Mesa, CA 91941 in the census-designated area of Casa de Oro-Mount Helix in East County. If you’re driving from San Diego to Mt. Helix it will take under half an hour.

Mt. Helix Park is open daily from 5:30am to 5:00pm unless it is rented for a private event.

There are many things to see and do within Mt. Helix Park. Here are the top reasons why it’s worth the trip to this California nature preserve.

What to Do at Mt. Helix Park

You can easily spend an entire day at the nature preserve and not run out of things to do. It’s fun to visit by yourself, with your partner, your entire family, and even Fido. Leashed dogs are welcome in Mt. Helix Park, and Doggie Doo bags are provided along with a pet drinking fountain at the picnic area next to the amphitheater.

Before you head out, grab your camera or phone to take photos and pack a small cooler with a lunch and beverages. You’ll want to pack ready-to-eat items as barbeques and fires are not permitted in the park and there are no places to purchase food in the park. (The exception to this is when the amphitheater is operating or the park is hosting a large event – sometimes there are food vendors at these events).

When you arrive at the park, you can park at one of the two parking lots at the intersection of Mt. Helix Drive and Vivera Drive (next to the San Miguel Fire Station), or at the upper parking lot next to the amphitheater. We recommend parking near the fire station and then walking to the top to take in the views!

Yawkey Trail

Before it gets hot in the late afternoon, hike or take a walk around the Yawkey Trail, jog, or ride your bike. The trail is a quarter-mile long and forms a semi-circle around the park. Yawkey Trail is named after Mary Yawkey, who enjoyed visiting the top of Mt. Helix for the scenic views long before the area became a public park.

Along the trail you can stop and take in the views at the three kiosk areas with benches and view maps that let you know what plants and animals you might see in the park, along with lists of the nearby hills and mountains you see.


The ampitheater is a must-see destination even when there are no plays or events scheduled. Fitness buffs often visit the theater to run up and down the amphitheater steps, or challenge themselves with a routine that takes them up and down the steeper steps to the stadium-style seats at the top.

Plan your visit during a performance and you can enjoy the outdoor stage in the scenic setting while taking in a fun play or presentation.

Enjoy the Scenery

Probably the main reason people visit Mt. Helix Park is to take in the view of the amazing neighborhoods and valleys below the peak. From the top of the park, you can visit the Mount Helix Cross, and check out the view where you can see for miles. From the prime viewing position, you can look down at developed neighborhoods, the civic center, and shopping centers.

But the beauty doesn’t stop there. As you walk around the park and enjoy your afternoon in nature, you’ll be surrounded by a wide variety of California’s native habitats including wildlife ranging from insects, reptiles, birds and mammals, along with century-old plants. The plants you see in bloom depend on the time of year you visit, but plant identification signs are located throughout the park so you can learn about the names, flowering season, and watering needs of each plant living in Mt. Helix Park. There is even a QR code on each sign in case you want to pull up detailed information about the plants on your phone.

Commonly spotted plants include:

  • Black sage
  • California live oak
  • California Polypody
  • Caterpillar scorpionweed
  • Coastal Agave
  • Wild Sand Diego Sweetpea

Programs in the Park

The nature preserve hosts many events and programs for all ages, including a kid’s art camp, a family-friendly nature and sustainability lecture series, habitat restoration group, and instructor-lead and donation-based drop-in Yoga classes.

Events in the Park

In addition to the regularly running programs at Mt. Helix, the park hosts regular events open to the public. Previous events have included astronomy night, Easter sunrise service, and Halloween Harvest family festival.

The annual heART of Mt. Helix is among the most popular events at the park with more than 500 people attending. The event features local musicians, artists, and restaurants, fine wines, craft beer, and dancing under the stars all to raise money to cover the Park’s annual operating expenses. The annual event provides more than 50% of the necessary funds each year.

Volunteer at Mt. Helix Park

If you’re local, you might consider making new friends and participating in some of the many opportunities available for helping out at the park.


Join the Adopt-a-Habitat program to learn how to restore a piece of California’s valuable native habitat.

Gardener Volunteers

Participate in the Habitat Restoration Workday program on the first Saturday of every month from 8:00am to 12:00pm. Experienced restoration team leaders provide instruction and guidance to all gardening enthusiasts looking to spend a morning maintaining the gardens in the park.

Annual Work Days

Several days each year, Mt. Helix Park holds “work days” to maintain the park. Tasks may include painting, erosion control, trail maintenance, and construction. All individuals, church groups, community groups, and military groups are welcome.

Organize and Run Events

All Mt. Helix Park events for the community are organized and run by volunteers.

Reserve Mt. Helix Park for Your Private Event

The nature preserve is a unique destination for weddings, memorials, or non-profit organizations.

Weddings at Mt. Helix Park

Are you looking for a breathtaking setting near San Diego for your wedding? You can rent the entire Mt. Helix Park for your event, the awe-inspiring views and natural beauty are included!

Memorials at Mt. Helix Park


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While you can always visit to worship or for quiet contemplation whenever Mt. Helix Park is open, you can also reserve the park to honor a loved one who has passed at the unique memorial.

Non-Profit Events at Mt. Helix Park

Churches and other non-profit organizations can use the nature preserve for organized activities, provided there are no sales taking place.

Restaurants Near Mt. Helix Park

Spending the day outdoors at the park can really build up an appetite. When you leave the park, consider visiting one of the many restaurants in the La Mesa area for seafood, mexican, or barbeque.

Best Times to Visit the Park

California is known for having amazing weather all year round, but the best months to visit the San Diego area, including Mt. Helix Park, is in March and April, and September and October. The summer months can be extremely crowded as many people vacation near San Diego for the amazing beach opportunities and other attractions, like the San Diego Zoo or Disneyland (within day-trip distance of about 95 miles from San Diego to Anaheim).

If you’re checking out Mt. Helix Park and the surrounding La Mesa area because you’re planning to move to a neighborhood in San Diego, our professional La Mesa, CA movers can help. Give us a call at 619-000-0000 for a no-obligation quote today.


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