Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Into the Wild 5K Rockin' Summer Runs Return to Irvine Regional Park



(Orange, Calif.) – OC Parks and Into the Wild OC Trail Run are pleased to present the annual 5k Rockin’ Summer Runs in conjunction with the OC Parks Summer Concert Series at Irvine Regional Park in Orange on Thursday, July 24 and Thursday, July 31. The OC Zoo will remain open after regular business hours and offer free admission from 3:30 – 6 p.m. on both dates.

Two high-energy 5k races will introduce outdoor enthusiasts of all ages to the exciting world of short-distance trail racing with single-loop courses designed for the beginning trail runner or advanced street racer. Check in for each race begins at 4:45 p.m. and the races kick off at 5:45 p.m.

After each race, participants will be treated to a free outdoor concert in the park as part of the annual OC Parks Summer Concert Series. July 24 presents Suburban Legends with Papafish and July 31welcomes GOGO13 with The Hawkline Monster. The concerts take place from 6 - 8 p.m.

Runners, concertgoers and park attendees have the opportunity to visit the OC Zoo after regular business hours for free on July 24 and July 31 from 3:30 – 6 p.m.

Into the Wild OC Trail Run provides the community with numerous outdoor runs throughout OC Parks public and private properties spanning Orange County. For more information and to register for the 5k Rockin’ Summer Runs visit

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Recently Ashley and I had the chance to visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park with a couple of good friends of ours, Jon & Heather Kaplan. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park was a fun place to visit and is only a short drive away from most in Southern California. There are a large number of exhibits and an included safari with general admission to the San Diego Zoo Safari park. There are more than enough activities to keep all members of the family more than entertained and this is a great day trip for the whole family.

Directions to Trailhead: The San Diego Zoo Safari Park (aka the San Diego Wild Animal Park) is located at 15500 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido, California 92027-7017. Directions from the NORTH (southbound): From Interstate 5 (Orange County, Los Angeles), take the State Route 78 East exit at Oceanside, proceed east to Interstate 15 South, exit at Via Rancho Parkway (Exit 27) and follow the signs to the Park. From Interstate 15 (Riverside), exit at Via Rancho Parkway (Exit 27) and follow the signs east to the Park. Directions from the SOUTH (northbound): From State Route 163 (downtown San Diego, Mission Valley) proceed to Interstate 15 North to the Via Rancho Parkway exit (Exit 27). Go east and follow signs to the Park. From Interstate 5 or 805 (Mexico), proceed to State Route 163, then to Interstate 15 North, and then exit at Via Rancho Parkway (Exit 27). For general information about the wild animal park, call 760-747-8702.  If you are driving from the San Diego Zoo, distance between the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park is 35 miles. Please allow 45 minutes to 1 hour travel time if you are traveling from the San Diego Zoo to the Safari Park.

Description of Trail: This is obviously not a typical trail write-up for our hiking blog, but is a little modified to highlight this fun family adventure in Southern California. The Safari Park is broken into different geographic areas indicating animal types.  When we visited, the areas are as follows: African Plains, African Outpost, Lion Camp, African Woods, Gorilla Forrest, Nairobi Village, Safari Base Camp, the Grove, Elephant Valley, Tiger Territory, Asiana Savanna, Condor Ridge, and World Gardens. The Safari Park is open every day of the year, including all holidays. For current hours of operation please click Here. Parking costs $11 per vehicle, $16 for RV parking. Diamond Club membership and up receives free parking: all other members receive a $3 discount with valid ID. Preferred parking is available on weekends and holidays for an additional $15. For a map of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, click Here. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park was well maintained when we went. It is extremely easy to get from one location within the park to another location in the park. The walking trails/paths are usually well marked and if you have any questions you can always ask a helpful employee at the park.

Further Thoughts: Ashley and I really had a good time visiting the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and seeing all the neat animals and exhibits. We visited all of the different areas, with the exception of the tiger territory because it was under construction when we visited. One thing you are going to want to do is plan out your visit before you go. The Safari Park has a large number of free daily activities, included in the general admission price, they put on for park visitors. One of the neat ones we did was the Cheetah Run. When we visited the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the cheetah run was daily at 3:30. We would highly recommend watching the cheetah run and please note to get there early because this is an extremely popular activity within the park. There is a section of Lion Camp where the cheetah run area is located. The neat thing is you will never guess who is best friends with the cheetah. Its a regular house dog, looked like a Labrador mixed with another breed. Regardless, the dog and the cheetah come to the area together and the dog runs first to show the cheetah everything is safe (because cheetah's are naturally scared of people), and then the cheetah runs.  You might get lucky and get two runs, but make sure to watch very carefully as the Cheetah is really fast!

One other neat activity that Ashley and I did was the Africa Tram which is included in your general admission to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The African Tram is a guided tour ride which departs from 10 a.m. until 6:15 p.m. with the busiest times between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on peak attendance days. This is a fun expedition that allows you to get a close view of the types of animals you would normally see in Africa. The Africa Tram is an exciting expedition with brightly colored tour vehicles and our diverse animal collection creating a relaxing adventure. The ride path takes you around some of the field exhibits, giving you a chance to connect with the animals on a closer level. You will get to see rhinos, zebras, giraffes, and so much more. The other neat thing about the African Tram is that it gives you an opportunity to sit down and relax while at the park. The ride takes approximately 30 minutes.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has a number of other safari adventures that you pay to do while visiting the park. For a list of additional Safaris and their costs, make sure to click Here. The zip line looks like a lot of fun and some day Ashley and I will come back and try out their zip lines! The bottom line is a visit to the San Diego Wild Animal Park is an all day excursion that offers fun for the whole family. There are many neat informative exhibits throughout the park and the best part is your admission prices go to help conserve wild animals for future generations. When you visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park plan on walking several miles throughout the day, make sure to wear good walking shoes and dress appropriately for the weather conditions. During the summer temperatures can get pretty hot. Fortunately, the park does sell water, drinks, and ice cream for those hot days. 

View San Diego Zoo Safari Park in a larger map

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

OC Parks July 2014 Calendar of Events

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


July 1, 8, 15, 22, 27 – Scout Programs
9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Tiger Club Discover Nature Program (1st Grade), Wolf Cub Outdoor Adventure (2nd grade), Bear Cub Wildlife Wander (3rdgrade), Webelos Forester Badge Program (4th & 5th grade), Webelos Geologist Badge Program (4th & 5th grade), Webelos Naturalist Badge Program (4th & 5th grade)
Location: Mason Regional Park. 18712 University Drive, Irvine, CA 92612
Cost: No fee, Scout Leader provides badges.
Contact: (949) 923-2220
Special Instructions: For more information, call Candi Hubert at (949) 923-2222.

July 1, 12, 15, 26 – Modjeska House Tour 
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Docent-led tour of the historic house and grounds.
Location: 25151 Serrano Road, Lake Forest, CA 92630-2534
Contact: (949) 923–2230
Cost: $5 per person
Special Instructions: Advance reservations required, call (949) 923-2230. Directions provided with reservations. 

July 2 – Butterflies and Insect Pollinators
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Join us on a morning walk in the beautiful native plant butterfly garden observing colorful butterflies and insects. The habitat is a paradise for butterflies and insects. Binoculars and cameras are welcome.
Location: Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park. 30952 Oso Parkway, Coto de Caza, CA 92679
Contact: (949) 923–2265

July 3, 31 – Fitness Hike at Dilley
8:30 – 10:30 a.m.
Raise your heart rate and your spirits on this strenuous, fast-paced, 5.5-mile hike over steep and uneven terrain (900-ft. elevation gain) with Laguna Canyon Foundation volunteers.
Location: Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. 18751 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Cost: $2 donation per person Parking: $3 per vehicle
Contact: (949) 923-2235
Special Instructions:  Ages 15 and up. Reservations required, sign-up online: Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, James Dilley Preserve (east side of Laguna Canyon Rd/Sr-133, just north of 73 Toll Road). For questions, call (949) 497-8324.

July 3 – Animal Art II – Preschool Program 
10 – 11 a.m.
Join us for an hour of creativity and fun with an animal theme! Come ready to get a little messy! Class includes hands-on learning, fun crafts, and meeting zoo animals up close! Different crafts than Animal Art I.
Location: Orange County Zoo. 1 Irvine Park Road, Orange, CA 92869
Cost: $5 per child (one parent included) Parking: $3 per vehicle
Contact: (714) 973-6846
Special Instructions: PHONE REGISTRATION REQUIRED. Call Marcy Crede-Booth, Education Coordinator at (714) 973-6846. For ages 3 to 4 years old. Parent must accompany child for duration of program. Additional parents/siblings/family/friends must pay admission fee to enter zoo.

July 3, 10, 24, 31 – Tideland Tykes
10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Join our preserve staff for a fun-filled parent and child experience that may include arts and crafts, story telling, hands-on activities or outdoor nature walks. Come prepared for an exciting outdoor experience!
Location: Upper Newport Bay. 2301 University Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660
Cost: $5 per student Parking: Free
Contact: (949) 923-2290
Special Instructions: Ages 2 to 8 years recommended. Space is limited and registration is required. Please call (949) 923-2275, or email to register.

July 3 – 2014 Summer Concert Series – The Joshua Tree with Mia Koo   
6 – 8 p.m.
OC Parks welcomes back its annual concert series. Ten free concerts at Craig Regional Park, Mason Regional Park, Irvine Regional Park, Mile Square Regional Park and Salt Creek Beach will present local musical artists performing live in the outdoors June through August. On Thursday, July 3, U2 replica The Joshua Tree with Mia Koo will be playing at Craig Regional Park.
All of the OC Parks Summer Concerts are part of The World Famous KROQ's ROQ N' Surf summer series. Shows are from 6 to 8 p.m., free concert admission with free parking and open to the public of all ages. Food trucks will have food available for purchase at each location. Friends and families are invited to come out and enjoy great local live music under the stars at OC Parks this summer season.
Location: Craig Regional Park. 3300 State College Blvd., Fullerton, CA 92835.
Cost: Free Parking: Free
Contact: (714) 973-3180
Special Instructions: All ages welcome.

July 4 – Explore the Plants on the Trail to Barbara’s Lake
9 – 11:30 a.m.
Join us on a wonderful morning walk to Orange County’s only natural lake while learning about our native California plant life. This 2-mile leisurely hike will be led by Laguna Canyon Foundation volunteer naturalists.
Location: Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. 18751 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Cost: $2 donation per person Parking: $3 per vehicle
Contact: (949) 923-2235
Special Instructions:  Ages 8 and up. Online reservations required, sign-up online: Little Sycamore Canyon Staging Area/Nix Nature Center (west side of Laguna Canyon Road/SR-133, approximately 3.5-miles south of I-5/405). For questions, call (949) 497-8324.

July 4 – Annual 4th of July Spectacular and Fireworks
9 p.m.
You won’t want to miss this beautiful and spirited fireworks display over the lake!  Limited parking/access inside the park (parking fees apply) and on La Paz Road.
Annual Fireworks Display is sponsored by the City of Laguna Niguel and co-Sponsored by OC Parks.
Location: Laguna Niguel Regional Park, 28241 La Paz Rd., Laguna Niguel, CA 92677 
Contact: (949) 923-2240

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Yosemite Adventures (Product/Book Review)

Recently Ashley and I were sent a copy of Yosemite Adventures, which is a hiking book that contains a total of 50 Hikes, Climbs and Winter Treks. The book is written by Matt Johanson with a forward by national climbing champion Hans Florine. Matt Johanson is a high school journalism teacher and a freelance outdoor and travel writer. He is a lifelong outdoors enthusiast with more than 20 years’ experience in the Yosemite area and the author of Yosemite Epics: Tales of Adventure from America’s Greatest Playground. He lives in Castro Valley, California. Hans Florine is the author of Speed Climbing: How to Climb Faster and Better, has won nine national climbing championships, and has set multiple speed climbing records, including the fastest-ever ascent of the Nose of El Capitan in Yosemite.

The first thing you immediately notice when you open the Yosemite Adventures Book is the detailed color photographs throughout the entire book as well as the detailed maps to guide your hike. There are over 100 color photographs throughout the book, which makes this a unique outdoor adventure guide book in and of itself. The Yosemite Adventures Book is broken down into 5 detailed categories: Winter Treks, Hiking, Backpacking, Mountain Climbing, and Rock Climbing. The way the book is broken down is extremely unique and combines a cross of different outdoor activities. This is a book that will appeal to a broad spectrum of outdoor enthusiasts.

For each categories in the book, there is a detailed description of what to expect for each category. Each category will have recommendations on gear, the trails/climbing routes, as well as a personal note from the author regarding one of his visits in Yosemite National Park. The book is organized well and is easy to follow.

One unique thing about the Yosemite Adventures Book is the 10 rock climbing routes that are detailed in the book. Ashley and I have seldom seen a hiking guide book combined with rock climbing routes. Needless to say rock climbing is probably a little outside of our expertise, but it appears to have everything you would want for rock climbing, such as various route descriptions, a rating for each route, and a recommendation of skills and gear needed.

As far as the hikes and mountain climbs, the book has a wide variety of trails and mountain climbs to suit everyone from the beginner to the seasoned hiker. There are several notable hikes and climbs that you would expect to find in any guide book for Yosemite National Park; such as Half Dome, Clouds Rest, and the Four Mile Trail Hike. The Yosemite Adventures Book for backpacking is also well done and provides a description for those wishing to backpack in Yosemite National Park. You will find the descriptions in the backpacking section to be a little longer with extra information.

Overall the Yosemite Adventures book has detailed maps for each Yosemite Adventure, which is a must.  Each description has information about the distance of the hike, parking, permits, time to complete the hike, and parking. Some, of the hikes descriptions are a little short, but most of the descriptions have several detailed pages of descriptions providing readers with in depth details on their adventure. This is a guide book that will appeal to a wide audience because of the multiple categories of adventures it covers.

Bottom-line, this is a well written guide book about 50 Hikes, Climbs, and Winter Treks in Yosemite National Park. Readers will enjoy the detailed maps, vibrantly colored pages and photographs, as well as the crucial details for their adventure. Must be time to go Yosemite National Park!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Prehistoric Kids Day at Upper Newport Bay June 28

Prehistoric Kids Day at Upper Newport Bay June 28

[Newport Beach, CA] - OC Parks in partnership with The Dr. John D. Cooper Archaeological and Paleontological Center will host Prehistoric Kids Day on Saturday, June 28, 2014 at the Muth Interpretive Center at Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve. The Prehistoric Kids Day event will present Orange County’s rich heritage of natural history, prehistoric animals and plants, and local Native American history to the community.

Prehistoric Kids Day will be fun for both young and old, with a number of activities including archaeological and paleontological demonstrations and exhibits, a Junior Scientist Camp featuring educational crafts and hands-on activities. Members of the Kizh/Gabrielino tribe will be present to share their culture with visitors. Additionally, the Toll Roads/LSA Associate’s Fossils in Your Backyard, the Fullerton Arboretum, the Felidae Conservation Fund, Destiny Colocho, Rock-n-Roll Reptiles, Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary, and OC Parks will all have booths to share information and educate visitors. Other activities include guided walking tours, flint knapping and local wildlife.

Family Event ~ Orange County’s Archaeology, Paleontology, History, & Nature
Saturday, June 28, 2014
10:00AM – 2:00PM
Muth Interpretive Center, Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve
2301 University Drive, Newport Beach, CA
For more information please call 949-923-2290 or 714-647-2100.

The Junior Scientist Camp will include the following activities:
-Archaeology and Paleontology sand-box digs
-Make Your Own Fossil
-Native American Rock Art
-Make Your Own Shell Jewelry
-Prehistoric Coloring book

The John D. Cooper Archaeological and Paleontological Center is a partnership between California State University, Fullerton and the County of Orange, through OC Parks. The Cooper Center is committed to the preservation, curation, and management of the fossils and artifacts within the County for the purpose of scientific research, outreach, and education. For more information, visit

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Hiking the Bright Angel Trail (Grand Canyon National Park)

Hiking the Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon National Park is a must do for any avid hiker. The Bright Angel Trail might be considered the Grand Canyon National Park's premier hiking trail and is certainly one of its most famous hiking trails. Ashley and I had the opportunity to hike a portion of the Bright Angel Trail while on our recent trip to the Grand Canyon National Park and we look forward to coming back and hiking the entire trail and spending the night at Phantom Ranch in the future. For more pictures of our trip to the Grand Canyon, make sure to check out our Facebook Page.

Directions to Trailhead: The Grand Canyon National Park's South Rim (which is open all year) is located approximately 60 miles north of Williams, Arizona (via route 64 from Interstate 40) and 80 miles northwest of Flagstaff (via route 180). The Grand Canyon lies entirely within the state of Arizona and is roughly a 7 to 8 hour drive from Southern California. Multiple commercial air carriers provide options to fly into Phoenix, Flagstaff, and Las Vegas. There is also limited air service into Grand Canyon Airport (7 miles/ 11km south of the park) from Las Vegas and elsewhere. From Los Angeles, CA, the trip is approximately 500 miles to the Grand Canyon. From the Los Angeles area, take the I-15 east to Barstow, CA; from Barstow, CA take the I-40 east to Williams, AZ; and from Williams, AZ take Highway 64 north to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The cost to enter the Grand Canyon National Park per private vehicle is presently $25. The fee pays for 7 days access and is good for both the North and South Rim of the Grand Canyon. For more fee information of the fees charged at Grand Canyon National Park, click Here. Plan to park at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and ride the Village Route Shuttle bus to the Hermits Rest Route Transfer stop or park at the back county information center and walk to the trailhead.

Description of Trail: The Bright Angel Trail follows the Bright Angel Fault down Garden Creek Canyon on a very well maintained hiking trail. The Bright Angel Trail follows a north facing wall that can accumulate snow and ice during the colder months of the year, becoming potentially treacherous in snow and ice conditions. Water is available at the trailhead. During the summer months there is potable drinking water at Bright Angel Campground, Indian Garden Campground, Three-Mile Resthouse, and Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse. From mid-October to early May, water is only available at Bright Angel Campground and Indian Garden. There is never potable water available at the River Resthouse. Please note that, due to occasional pipeline breaks, potable water is not guaranteed: bringing an alternative form of water treatment, such as iodine tablets or a water filter, is essential.  The south rim trailhead sits at an elevation of 6,860 feet and the trail travels a total of 9.5 miles one way to the bottom of the canyon at the Bright Angel Campground sitting at 2,480 feet. Here is a better location of mile stones to make your trip shorter for day hikes. 

Locations/Elevations Mileages:
South Rim Trailhead (6860 ft / 2093 m) to Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse (5729 ft / 1748 m, and 1.5 mile hike): Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse (5729 ft / 1748 m) to Three-Mile Resthouse (4748 ft / 144 9m, and an additional 1.5 miles): Three-Mile Resthouse (4748 ft / 1449 m) to Indian Garden (3800 ft / 1160 m, and an additional 1.7 miles): Indian Garden (3800 ft / 1160 m) to River Resthouse (2480 ft / 756 m), and an additional 3.3 miles): River Resthouse (2480 ft / 756 m) to Bright Angel Campground (2480 ft / 756 m, and an additional 1.5 miles):

Further Thoughts: Ashley and I really enjoyed our short day hike along a portion of the Bright Angel Trail. There was snow and ice on certain sections of the trail when we hiked in February. We made it down to the Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse which was a great location to turn around for those only looking for a shorter moderate day hike. This hiking trail offers stunning views of the Grand Canyon and allows you to observe and see firsthand all the geological changes in the Grand Canyon. The Bright Angel Trail offers wonderful views all along the trail making it very easy to lose track of how far down you have hiked. Additionally, the steepness of the trail is very misleading on the way down. Plan on taking twice as long to hike up as it took to hike down.

One of the neat things about the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is that there are free Shuttle Buses which allows you to travel quickly and efficiently throughout the park. During the winter season there are only two bus routs that are open. The blue line takes approximately 50 minutes for each bus to complete the round-trip. The blue line runs through the heart of the south rim and goes between the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, hotels, restaurants, and campgrounds. Buses run every 30 minutes from 6 am to 8 am; they run every 15 minutes from 8 am to 6 pm; and they run every 30 minutes from 6 pm to 9 pm. The orange line runs from Yavapai Point and the Geology Museum to Yaki Point, buses run every 30 minutes from 6 am to 6:30 am; and they run run every 15 minutes from 6:30 am to to one hour after sunset. It take approximately 50 minutes for each bus to complete the route. The red line runs only from March 1 to November 30 and it takes each bus 80 minutes to complete the rout which runs from hermits rest transfer center all the way out to hermits rest. Buses run at similar 15 minute and 30 minute intervals. For a detailed map of the Grand Canyon Bus system make sure to click Here.

Along the Bright Angel Trail, the only campgrounds are at Indian Garden (CIG) and Bright Angel Campground (CBG). At-large camping is not permitted on Corridor Trails; visitors must camp in designated campgrounds. It is not recommended to hike from the rim to the river and back in one day, especially May to September. During the warm summer months temperatures in the bottom of the canyon can soar well above 100 degrees. Additionally, there is limited shade along much of the trail. The water in the Colorado River released from Glen Canyon Dam stays a fairly consistent, from 46 to 50 degrees as it passes through the park. Please note a day hike from the rim and back is extremely strenuous and should only be undertaken by hikers in excellent physical shape with the proper gear. For a great photo journey of the entire Bright Angel Trail check out Arizona Wanderings.

Rating: South Rim Trailhead to Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse: Elevation Gain: 1,120 ft. (Moderate), Distance: 3 miles roundtrip (moderate). South Rim Trailhead to Three Mile Resthouse: Elevation Gain: 2,120 ft. (Strenuous), Distance: 6 miles roundtrip (Strenuous). South Rim Trailhead to Indian Garden: Elevation Gain: 3,040 (Strenuous), Distance: 9 miles roundtrip (Strenuous). South Rim Trailhead to River Resthouse: Elevation Gain: 4,380 ft. (Very Strenuous), Distance: 16 miles roundtrip (Very Strenuous). South Rim Trailhead to Bright Angel Campground: Elevation Gain: 4,380 ft. (Very Strenuous), Distance: 19 miles roundtrip (Very Strenuous).  

Time to Complete HikeSouth Rim Trailhead to Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse: 2 - 4 hours. South Rim Trailhead to Three Mile Resthouse: 4 - 6 hours. South Rim Trailhead to Indian Garden: 6 - 9 hours. South Rim Trailhead to River Resthouse: 10 - 12 hours. South Rim Trailhead to Bright Angel Campground: 11 - 13 hours.


Bright Angel Trail (This Post)

Grand Canyon Rim Trail

View Bright Angel Trail (Grand Canyon National Park) in a larger map