Thursday, June 25, 2009

Riley Wilderness Park

On June 25, 2009 Ashley and I headed out again to Riley Wilderness Park in the evening. Doing the 3.5 mile loop takes about an hour and a half to 2 hours and is easy to finish before the sun goes down after work on a summer afternoon. We arrived there around 6:15pm and left at about 8:00pm. We brought some of our family with us this time because they wanted to see Riley Wilderness Park and the great abundance of wildlife it has. It was a great hike and Riley Wilderness Park is a great place for new hikers.

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: We had a great hike in Riley Wilderness Park. We saw several deer while we were out hiking. One of the deer grazing on the hillside slops had two little fawns following her. The weather was perfect because the recent June gloom kept the temperatures down and gave the plants one last chance to get water before the real summer heat arrives.

We also learned something new this month from the Riley Wilderness Park Wilderness News. Often times, when out hiking, you may hear what sounds like rattlesnakes all around. It is actually a Cicada bug. The male Cicada makes a loud rattling noise when trying to attract a mate. They do not harm humans, ie no bites or stings, and are common food for the birds in the area.

Ashley and I have always seen wildlife in this Wilderness Park. They have a great nature center that is open on the weekends. The nature center has great interactive exhibits that are fun for hikers of all age. This is a park that is not frequented as much by mountain bikers, so you don't have to watch out for them as much as you have to in other Orange County Wilderness Parks.

If you want to get involved in the Wagon Wheel Natural History Association here is a helpful Link.

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

Time to Complete Hike: 1 - 2 hours.


October 11, 2008

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