Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Irvine Ranch Conservancy Celebrates National Public Lands Day September 24

Below is a press release from the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, that we thought our readers might be interested in. Over the years we have had emails from hikers that are interested in volunteer opportunities, so below are some great opportunities.

(Photograph Courtesy Of The Irvine Ranch Conservancy)

Irvine Ranch Conservancy Celebrates National Public Lands Day September 24

Volunteer for Stewardship Programs on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks during September in honor of National Public Lands Day 

ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. (August 29, 2016) – Irvine Ranch Conservancy is celebrating the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks and its stewardship programs during the month of September, in honor of National Public Lands Day – traditionally held one day on Saturday, Sept. 24. This national movement is being repurposed into a monthlong campaign to encourage environmental stewardship, education, and recreation on the Landmarks. Outdoor enthusiasts can join the celebration by registering for stewardship programs that offer an opportunity to explore the land while giving back to the environment.
 “National Public Lands Day is an important chance for the community to care for our local wildlands, but there are opportunities every single day to steward the Landmarks,” said Michael O’Connell, Irvine Ranch Conservancy Executive Director. “There is nothing more rewarding than knowing you’ve had a personal impact on protecting rare and endangered plants and animals, and we’re excited to connect more people to the National and State Landmark in their own backyard.” 
Stewardship programs on the Landmarks are offered by landowners such as OC Parks, the City of Irvine, and the City of Newport Beach, and are managed by partner organizations including the Conservancy. Staff and volunteers help protect and restore the natural resources of the Landmarks by removing invasive weeds, planting native seedlings, harvesting seeds from wildflowers, and more. Stewardship programs also combat the adverse effects of off-trail use, and foster a love of the land by giving the public a direct, personal connection to the open space. Stewardship programs on the Landmarks encompass a wide variety of interests, locations, and difficulty levels. Examples include:
 Adopt A Canyon – Agua Chinon is a longer-term program in OC Parks’ Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve that connects the community to a local canyon across four seasons. Volunteers engage in plant identification, invasive weed removal, and help plant native seedlings throughout the year, allowing stewards to watch their efforts come full circle. 
 Native Seed Farm activities give volunteers hands-on interaction with native plant species. Volunteers plant native seedlings, weed, and harvest seeds from native wildflowers, all of which directly benefit habitat restoration sites throughout the Landmarks.
 Santiago Oaks Stewardship programs in Santiago Oaks Regional Park offer those who enjoy the outdoors an opportunity to leave their local parks better than they found them. Volunteers work closely with Park Rangers to combat the effects hiking, biking and riding off-trail have on native flora and fauna. 
A complete list of all stewardship programs offered on the Landmarks can be found here. 
Irvine Ranch Conservancy will celebrate National Public Lands Day further with a social media photo-sharing contest. Nature lovers are invited to like Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks on Facebook, and then share a photo of themselves caring for or giving back to the open space in the comment section of the specified contest post. One winner will be chosen at random to win a canvas portrait of The Sinks in Limestone Canyon. 
Stewardship programs on the Landmarks offer the community an opportunity to protect and enhance the natural resources of the open space, and ensure the local wildlands are around for future generations to enjoy. All docent-led stewardship programs on the Landmarks are free and open to the public with required pre-registration. No experience is necessary, and all tools and training are provided. Volunteers should bring water, sunscreen, and a light snack. For more information on the Landmarks and stewardship programs, visit LetsGoOutside.org/activities.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

OC Parks September 2016 Calendar of Events

Here are some highlights from the OC Parks September Calendar of events, if you are looking for hiking ideas or other outdoor events this month, make sure to check out some of these great events!

OC Parks September 2016 calendar of events

September 1 – Fitness Hike at Canyon View
8 – 10 a.m.
Raise your heart rate and your spirits on this strenuous, moderately paced, 6-mile hike over steep and uneven terrain (400-ft elevation gain) with Laguna Canyon Foundation volunteers.
Location: Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. 28373 Alicia Parkway
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
Website: www.ocparks.com/aliso
Cost: Free   
Parking: Free
Contact: (949) 497-8324
Special Instructions: For ages 15 and up. Registration is required, sign-up online: www.eventbrite.com/fitnesshike. Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, Canyon View Staging Area (from southbound Aliso Creek Road, turn right on Glenwood [turns into Pacific Park] and right on Canyon Vistas. Meet at the entrance to Canyon View Park).

September 1 – 2016 Summer Concert Series – JR JR with Big Monsta
6 – 8 p.m.
The County of Orange and OC Parks welcome back the annual outdoor summer concert series. Food trucks will be serving on-site at each location. Friends and families are invited to come out, bring a blanket and a beach chair and enjoy JR JR with Big Monsta under the stars at OC Parks this summer season.
Location: Salt Creek Beach. 33333 S. Pacific Coast Hwy. Dana Point, CA 92629
Website: www.ocparks.com/saltcreek
Cost: Free     
Parking: Free
Contact: (949) 923-2280
Special Instructions: All ages welcome. Guests may bring their own food, and alcohol consumption by those 21 and over is permitted for the concerts.

September 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 – Wild Tales
10:30 – 11:15 a.m.
Join Newport Bay Conservancy Volunteers for a fun filled parent and child experience that may include arts and crafts, storytime, hands-on activities and outdoor nature walks.
September 3 – Wilderness Access Day: Black Star Canyon
8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians can enjoy self-guided access to designated trails in Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park.
Location: Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park
Website: www.ocparks.com/irvineranch
Cost: Free
Parking: Free
Special Instructions: Ages 12 and up. Registration is required, sign-up online: www.letsgooutside.org/wildernessaccessday Directions will be provided after registration.

September 3 – First Saturday of the Month Morning Hike To The Redwood Grove
8:30 – 10 a.m.
Join OC Parks' trained staff on the first Saturday of the month for an easy 1.1-mile early morning interpretive hike to the park's Coastal Redwood grove. You will use your 5 senses to engage with nature as you stroll to the Redwoods. You will also have an opportunity to learn about our native plants along the trail. The hike begins at 8:30 a.m. from the park's Nature Center.
Location: Carbon Canyon Regional Park. 4442 Carbon Canyon Road
Brea, CA 92823
Website: www.ocparks.com/carboncanyon
Cost: Free     
Parking: $5 per vehicle
Contact: (714) 973-3160
Special Instructions: Meet at Nature Center located at east end of park. To register, call (714) 973-3160 or email carboncanyon@ocparks.com. Participants should remember water, sunscreen, hat and hiking shoes. Rain will cancel hike.

September 3, 10, 17, 24 – Walk with a Naturalist   
9 – 10:30 a.m.
Join O’Neill Regional Park naturalists and learn about the animals and nature of Trabuco Canyon. This will be a light to moderate walk on mostly paved roads.
Location:  O’Neill Regional Park. 30892 Trabuco Canyon Road
Trabuco Canyon, CA 92678 
Website: www.ocparks.com/oneill
Cost: Free    
Parking: $5 per vehicle
Contact: (949) 923-2260
Special Instructions: All ages welcome. Meet at the Nature Center just inside the main entrance of O’Neill Regional Park. Event is conditional on weather.

September 3 – Monthly Habitat Restoration  
9 –11:30 a.m.
Join OC Parks staff, the Institute for Conservation, Research and Education (ICRE) and other volunteers the first Saturday of every month to help enhance Talbert Regional Park’s habitat for local wildlife. Activities may include: non-native plant removal, planting natives, watering and trash removal.
Location: Talbert Nature Preserve. 1298 Victoria Avenue
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Website: www.ocparks.com/talbert
Cost: Free     
Parking: Parking for the event will be at Fairview Park in the city of Costa Mesa, a short 10-minute walk to Talbert.
Contact: (949) 923-2293
Special Instructions: No experience is necessary. Water and tools are provided. Minors aged 16 and younger must have legal guardian present at all times. Rain or heat advisories cancels event. Please wear long pants, close toed shoes and a hat. Please bring sunscreen, work gloves, reusable water bottle and snack.

September 3 -- Explore the Bay Family Hike
10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
An easy hike for families of all ages to learn more about Upper Newport Bay and enjoy its trails. Hike will be on paved and dirt trails. Bring sun protection and water. Meet on the patio of the Muth Interpretive Center. Event is free, registration is not required.
Location: Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve. 2301 University Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660 
Website: www.ocparks.com/newport
Cost: Free
Parking: Free
Contact: (949) 923-2290

September 3 Open House  
11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
The Ramon Peralta Adobe will be open to the public from 11am to 12pm. Join docents as they interpret the history of this early structure and canyon history.
Location: Ramon Peralta Adobe. 6398 E. Santa Ana Canyon Road
Anaheim, CA 92807
Website: www.ocparks.com/ramon
Cost: Free    
Parking: You may park in the shopping center's parking lot.
Contact: (714) 973-3190
Special Instructions: The Peralta Adobe is surrounded on three sides by the Tarbell offices at the corner of Fairmont Blvd. and Santa Ana Canyon Road.

September 3 – Family Hike  
3 – 5 p.m.
Come and enjoy an easy, 2.5-mile family hike over moderate but uneven terrain (45-ft. elevation gain). Starting at the James Dilley Preserve we will hike one of the most diverse areas of the park to Barbara’s Lake and back. Hike is led by Laguna Canyon Foundation naturalist volunteers.
Location: Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. 18751 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Website: www.ocparks.com/lagunacoast
Cost: Free     
Parking: $3 per vehicle
Contact: (949) 923-2235
Special Instructions: Registration is required, sign-up online: www.eventbrite.com/familyhike. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, James Dilley Preserve (I-5 or 405 south to 133 south to stoplight at 73 toll road; make a U-turn, go 1 block. Dilley is on the right).

September 4, 11, 18, 25 – Guided Nature Hike
8 – 9:15 a.m.
Join the Park Ranger for a 1-mile nature hike in the beautiful Bell Canyon area of Caspers Wilderness Park. 
Location: Caspers Wilderness Park. 33401 Ortega Highway, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Website: www.ocparks.com/caspers
Cost: Free    
Parking: $5 per vehicle (day use free)
Contact: (949) 923-2210
Specil Instructions: Hike lasts approximately one hour and is suitable for all ages. Meet at the Old Corral Day Use Area. Contact park office for hike updates.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Summer Nights on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks (Hiking Ideas)

We thought that some of our readers might enjoy these outdoor recreation opportunities. The picture is provided by the Irvine Ranch Conservancy's press release and was taken at Orchard Hills.

Summer Nights on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks

Explore Orchard Hills and Black Star Canyon during a series of evening and night hikes
 ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. (June 27, 2016) – Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks invites the public to explore the City of Irvine’s Orchard Hills and OC Parks’ Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park during evening, twilight, and nighttime guided hikes. The programs are free with registration and welcome nature lovers to enjoy the Landmarks during summer nights.  
Orchard Hills Evening Hikes at Orchard Hills is a reoccurring program that offers nature lovers multiple opportunities per week to avoid the heat and enjoy sweeping views of Irvine and the Pacific coastline. Orchard Hills is home to a three-mile trail that features a double loop. The evening hikes travel along the outer loop and include areas with substantial elevation gain. Evenings are the perfect time to embark on this moderately paced guided hike, which skirts a working avocado orchard and leads to a panoramic vista from Loma Ridge. The program is suitable for hikers ages 12 and over. All minors must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. Water and sturdy shoes advised. Click here for a list of all programs.  
Twilight Hikes in Orchard Hills welcome trekkers to enjoy the trail before and after sunset. The leisurely paced hike follows the same route as the Evening Hike, offering visitors expansive views of the Irvine Open Space and an opportunity to connect with the land. The hike begins at the Orchard Hills Staging Area on various Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m., and circles back at roughly 8:30 p.m. Sturdy shoes and water are advised.  
Black Star Canyon Twilight Trek on The Mesa takes place in scenic Black Star Canyon Friday evenings, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. This 2.5-mile loop trail will reveal the sights, sounds, and smells of the canyon as dusk turns to nightfall. This mild hike also offers time to enjoy scenic views of the lands and the endless evening sky. Ideal for hikers age ten and over; comfortable shoes and water advised. On Sunday, July 31, explore Black Star Canyon under the stars during  
Starry, Starry Night. Spaces are filling up quickly for this popular program, which averages 2.5 miles roundtrip and travels at a mild pace. Nature lovers 6 years of age and older are welcome to enjoy this easy outing that includes lots of stops to name constellations visible in the sky. For more information on all public programs available, visit www.letsgooutside.org.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Santa Margarita Trails Possible Public Access Closure (Guest Post)

Displaying santa margarita stream hike.jpg
One of our readers brought to our attention an issue of possible public access closure to the Santa Margarita Hiking Trails in Northern San Diego County.  Ashley and I recognize there is a balance between preservation of lands and public access to lands.  But I would argue that public access helps preserve natural lands for future generations because, in my experience, when people interact with nature and what it offers, they tend to want to preserve it.  We would encourage our readers in the area to educate themselves on this issue and to get involved if they so desire.  Thank you to reader, Allison Gower, for taking the time to write the following post:

Popular Trails in San Diego Under Threat Of Closure To The Public

The Santa Margarita River Valley trail system is an awe-inspiring 221 acre preserve that has been maintained for over 20 years, with public access to the hiking trails. However, the preserve is currently scheduled to be sold by the Fallbrook Trails Council. Local residents saw a potential threat to public use of these trails and decided to take action to preserve public access, especially considering the Santa Margarita Trails were voted the #1 best trails in all of San Diego County last

A Little History on the Area: The preserve was acquired in 1992, as part of the County of San Diego's Multiple Species Conservation Program, to preserve the area’s natural habitat and scenery. After the 2002 Gavilan Fire, the preserve was quickly restored for public access and use. Currently, the public has access to the beautiful trails in the preserve (from 8 a.m. to 30 minutes before sunset each day, when the park is open) for all sorts of outdoor activities, such as horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, and walking. You can stroll by the rushing river in the preserve, watch the birds and even spot larger animals, like deer, drinking from the river.

About The Controversy: This land is currently owned by the Fallbrook Public Utilities District (FPUD) and is in the process of being sold. General manager Brian Brady of the FPUD announced that FPUD was selling the property to the Western Rivers Conservancy, in an effort to preserve the land for the long-term. This Conservancy would contribute $5.5 million along with a $5 million contribution by Marine Base Camp Pendleton to make the preserve into a permanent conservation easement.

This deal is still in the process of going through. However, as of yet, there’s no specific legal easement on the deed that ensures non-motorized public trail use, such as hiking or horseback riding, throughout the river valley property. Local citizens want to show their support for the preservation of the trails and for having this floating easement to allow continued public access to the preserve. The picture below is a trail map of the preserve.

Easy Way To Help: Local residents started a petition on iPetitions.com, to allow individuals to voice their support for continued public access to the preserve. The petition already has 1,400+ signatures and can be found at:

To show support for the continued public use and maintenance of this long-standing San Diego trail, it takes 30 seconds to sign the petition. You can also show support by reaching out to the FPUD. They have a board meeting each month, where members of the public are invited to come and voice their opinions. The next FPUD (water district) board meeting is on March 22nd at 4 PM at their headquarters: 990 E Mission Rd Fallbrook CA 92028, where they’ll be making more decisions on this topic.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Monrovia Falls Hike (Waterfall Hike)

Monrovia Falls is a beautiful 30 foot waterfall located in the San Gabriel Mountain foothills right above Monrovia, California. A hike to Monrovia Falls is a fun short hike that is easy for the entire family. This hike offers amazing scenery and the chance to see local wildlife. The hiking trail to Monrovia Falls is very popular with locations, so expect to see others enjoying this beautiful 30 foot waterfall.

Directions to Trailhead: To get to the trailhead to hike to Monrovia Falls, from the 210 freeway, exit Myrtle Avenue in Monrovia and head towards the mountains. Travel through old town Monrovia and then make a right onto Foothill Boulevard. In 4 short blocks, turn left onto Canyon Boulevard. Once you're heading north on Canyon Boulevard, in 0.7 miles, take a right to continue on Canyon Boulevard. Take the second right to stay on Canyon Boulevard and enter Monrovia Canyon Park. Currently, there is a $5 per vehicle fee to park inside Monrovia Canyon Park ($6 on Holidays and weekends) and all cars must be gone by 5PM, which is when they lock the gates. You can also park outside the park but you'll have to hike an additional 1.1 miles on a paved road. Note that the park is closed on Tuesdays.

Description of Hike: This is an out and back hike to the 30 foot Monrovia Falls, situated in the Foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. The majority of this hike hike is on a dirt hiking trail that travels through some amazing riparian areas. You have a couple of different hiking trail options to chose to hike to Monrovia Falls. Three trailhead options give a range of distances from 1.5 miles round trip to 3.4 miles round trip. The shortest is from the visitor center. We hiked from the middle parking area before the visitor center.  The longest hiking option is right by the entrance to Monrovia Canyon Park. The majority of the hike has plenty of shade from the oaks and sycamores in this location. The hike a a gradual uphill the entire way to the falls and then a gradual downhill on the way back to the trailhead.

Further Thoughts: Ashley and I enjoyed our hike to Monrovia Falls that we did in the late fall of 2015.  We saw a couple of small snakes while on our hike and got great pictures!!  You will run into other hikers when hiking to Monrovia Falls. We saw several groups of people while on our hike, but by no means was it overly crowded. Even in the late fall Monrovia Falls had a steady stream of water cascading down its face. The hiking trails were relatively easy to follow. The one downside about this hiking spot is that the park closes at 5PM, where as most wilderness parks close at sunset.

Rating: Elevation Gain: 400 to 800 (Easy), Distance: 1.5 miles to 3.4 Miles Roundtrip depending on trail (Easy).

Time to Complete Hike: 1 hour.