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)

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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.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 Year in Review for Brian & Ashley's Hiking Blog

2015 has been a good year for Ashley and I on a personal note. Ashley and I moved from Mission Viejo to Monrovia toward the end of 2015, Ashley started a new job teaching at Gladstone High School, and we have been house shopping as of late. The end of 2015 has been exceptionally busy, which has taken a toll on our post here in the last several months. Regardless of this temporary busy season towards the end of 2015, readership on our blog has continued to grow. This year we added 4 new hikes as well as updated many previous hikes from years past, including Mt. Whitney and multiple associated training hikes up Mt. Baldy and Mt. San Gorgonio.  We have over 144 different hiking trails (Specifically 68 trails in the Orange County Area, 36 in the greater Southern California Area, and 45 outside of the greater Southern California Area) that are detailed on Brian and Ashley's Hiking Blog. The number of fans who like our Facebook page has steadily continued to grow, with now over 990 likes and we now have over 212 twitter followers.

Ashley and I always enjoy all the comments/feedback that we get from our readers about the hikes that they have done. Your comments, stories, and feedback continue to make this blog better and is always welcome! Ashley and I want to say a special thanks to ALL our readers and we hope that 2016 is a great hiking year for you and that you have a Happy New Year! Our goal for the next year is to continue hiking new and exciting trails as well as re-visit many of our favorite hiking locations. Ashley and I want to wish you and your family a happy and prosperous 2016! Happy Trails!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Golden Boots Award Brian & Ashley's Hiking Blog

Ashley and I were honored to be a Golden Boots Blogger Award winner for October, 2015.  We would like to say thank you to Adam Nutting and the folks over at Hiking the Trail for the award! Thank you to those that nominated us. We would also like to say congratulations to one of our other local bloggers Nobody Hikes in LA for being a co-winner! Happy hiking everyone!