Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Riley Wilderness Park (Evening)

Riley Wilderness Park is one of OC Parks gems and offers some of the best hiking in Orange County. On July 23, 2009 Ashley and I did an evening excursion to Riley Wilderness Park. It was the perfect time to go to the park, because a lot of wildlife comes out during the evenings at Riley Wilderness Park. We arrived there around 6:15pm and left at about 8:15pm when the sun was going down. For more pictures from some of our hikes at Riley Wilderness Park make sure to check out our Facebook Page.

Directions to Trailhead: A map of the area can be found below with the Google map. To get to Riley Wilderness Park, coming from the 5 freeway, exit at OSO parkway and head toward the Santa Ana Mountains going through MissionViejo. Take OSO parkway through Ladera Ranch and pass the end of the 241 toll road. Just before you reach the entrance to Coto De Caza, the entrance to Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park is on the right hand side. Remember to bring 3 dollars for parking. Also, they have machines that accept credit cards. There is ample parking at this OC Parks parking area.

Description of Hike: Riley Wilderness Park is always in great shape and the trails in the park are well maintained by the people at OC Parks. It is one of the smaller wilderness parks at only 523 acres but it packs a punch. We hiked a loop using the Wagon Wheel Canyon Trail to the Oak Canyon Trail to the Mule Deer Trail to the Pheasant Run Trail back to the Wagon Wheel Canyon trail which is approximately a 3.5 mile loop. The elevation gain is minimal, approximately 300 ft. There are several trails at Riley Wilderness Park which means you can tailor your hike to how easy or difficult you want to make it. Park maps are also available at the trailheads. For a printable map of the hiking trails at Riley Wilderness Park click Here. Riley Wilderness Park also has a great Nature Center that is opening primarily on the weekends. They have a lot of interactive exhibits for hikers of all age to enjoy. For the Riley Wilderness Park brochure, click Here.

Further Thoughts: Riley Wilderness Park is one of the best wilderness parks to see wildlife in Orange County. It has become a personal favorite of ours. Every hike that we have taken in Riley Wilderness Park we have seen deer and other wildlife. On this excursion out to Riley Wilderness Park we saw a total of 7 deer. 2 of the deer were males with a full set of Antlers. 4 of the deer were females and one of them had a fawn.

One of the highlights of coming to Riley Wilderness Park in the evening was being able to watch the changes in the park that occur from the late afternoon to the evening. During this time more animals come out and it is a great time to go hiking. It was also great to see a beautiful sunset while out hiking at Riley Wilderness Park. After it was getting dark, Ashley and I saw our first tarantula out in the park. We were on the pheasant run trail when we saw the tarantula.

For Orange County Hikers and for Orange County Residents interested in seeing Orange County Wildlife, Riley Wilderness Park is a great hike and a must do. There is nothing strenuous about the park and the trails are in good condition. It is great for hikers of all ages and abilities. As always be careful of your surroundings as this is a wilderness setting.

Rating: Elevation Gain: 300 ft. (Easy), Distance: 3.5 Miles Roundtrip (Easy).

Time to Complete Hike: 1 - 2 hours.


June 23, 2009 (This Post)

View Riley Wilderness Park Hike in a larger map

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Ashley and I encourage and welcome our readers to submit comments about their experiences on the trails we have posted on our blog or about their own hiking experiences in general.