October 22, 2022

Using Mission Trails Regional Park for Your Family or Maternity Photo Location – Everything You Need to Know

As a San Diego lifestyle family, maternity, and newborn photographer, I’ve visited and used dozens for locations for sessions, some very popular and others a little more hidden (sshhhh….).

Choosing the right location for your precious photographs is an essential ingredient of their final look & feel, so I’d love to use my expertise to help you decide.

In that spirit, here’s part I in my new blog series, “Everything you Need to Know about Having Your Photo Session at [fill in location here].

I do hope you find it helpful!

Location #1: Mission Trails Regional Park

Mom and Dad holding hands with kids in a field during a family photography session in Mission Trails Regional Park
Mission Trails Regional Park is a hugely popular location for family & maternity photography sessions, and for good reason.


1) Look and Feel

Mission Trails is best for those wanting a rustic look to their photographs. Other words that come to mind are prairie, open, windswept, big fields, meadow.

It’s a location best complimented by more bohemian/casual styling. Think long prairie dresses, boots, lace, flowers, and hair free to blow in the wind.

Little girl running in a field during a lifestyle family photography session at Mission Trails Regional Park


2) Mission Trails: What’s Good

  • Mission Trails has a variety of settings to use, from rustic wooden fences and sage bushes to open fields ringed by hills. This means your photographs will have lots of variety, too (see the the photos below to sample some of the loveliness).
  • There’s A LOT of room to spread out, even on a busy weekend when the park is crawling with hikers and photographers.
  • If you’d like some beautiful fall foliage in your photographs, come here in November or December.
  • Unlike some of the other locations I use (Coronado, I’m looking in your direction), there are quickly accessible and clean bathrooms here.
  • Though I wouldn’t call it centrally located, Mission Trails is super easy to get to, with quick access from several major freeways.
  • Parking – plentiful and free!

Couple embracing while holding their children in a field during a lifestyle photography session in Mission Trails Regional Park



3) Mission Trails: What’s Not so Good

  • There can be a lot of walking over uneven terrain to reach the different settings, up to 15 minutes each way. This isn’t usually a problem for most people, just a something to consider when choosing footwear.
  • Certain gates close right at sunset. Since sunset is when photo sessions tend to wrap up, this can be a problem. Ask me about the time my new client and I got locked in one evening. I learned from that experience and now direct my clients only to gates that close later.
  • There can be… how do I say this? Critters. It’s nature, after all.
  • The rangers can get a little territorial when it comes to using certain spots. I’ve found workarounds that keep us just this side of the law.


Little girl climbing a wooden fence during a lifestyle family photography session at Mission Trails Regional Park

3) Mission Trails: Best Time of Year to Use

Anytime! Spring will give you a nice green meadow look, while November and December brings fall foliage. Yes, it’s terribly hot in the summer, but evenings typically see a cool down just in time for those golden hour sessions.

A family walking down a gravel road during a lifestyle family photography session in Mission Trails Regional Park




If you’re considering choosing Mission Trails as your photography session location but still have questions, feel free to email me at michelle@lovemichellephotography.com. And if you’re loving the warmth & connection coming through my images and would like to know more about booking one of my easy going sessions, inquire here.

I’ll leave you with this sweet image of daddy and daughter, photographed at (where else?) Mission Trails.


Dad and little girl hugging on a field during a lifestyle family photo session at Mission Trails Regional Park



  1. […] See Part 1, covering everything you need to know about having your photo session at Mission Trails Regional Park, here. […]

  2. […] can see Parts 1 & 2 here and here. They cover popular San Diego family and maternity photo locations Mission Trails Regional […]

  3. […] got a full post with details on using Mission Trails for your photo session location here, but here’s a quick summary on why it’s a great […]