Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Year in Review

2010 has been a great year for our hiking blog. We had another major remodel of the blog in the month of August, to support the growth of the blog. Readership continues to grow as people find the hiking resources which we offer. We have also doubled the number of hikes on the blog from this time last year. We now have 60 different hiking trails that are on Brian and Ashley's Hiking Blog. This year, we also created a facebook page for the blog, as well as more ways for readers to subscribe to our blogs content. To join our facebook page click on the facebook icon on the lower left side of the blog.

The biggest thing Ashley and I enjoy are all the comments/feedback that we get from our readers about the hikes that they have done. Your feedback continues to make this blog better and is always welcome! Here are two comments from readers over the past year.
This site is amazing. Very detailed and nicely organized. My family and I are trying to get back into hiking with our youngest now at a age where she would enjoy and appreciate the things I grew up with back home...such as hiking. I always loved it as a kid and now I want to pass this on to my kids. Thanks for the awesome web site from someone who did not grow up in the OC.
Congrats! If there's an award for nicest  blogger, you should win too. You're the only blogger I know who answers emails and questions.
Both Ashley and I have a love for the outdoors and hiking. It is our hope, through this blog, to share our hiking experiences with others so they can see the great outdoors that Orange County and Southern California in general have to offer. We truly are blessed with a beautiful place to call home. Most people do not think of Southern California as a great hiking destination, but we are surrounded by 4 National Forests and many nature preserves that offer great places to hike. We wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2011.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mine Hike (Eagle Mining Company Julian, California)

Ashley and I recently had the opportunity to explore one of the old Gold Mines in Julian, California. This particular Gold Mine in Julian, California is run by the Eagle Mining Company.  It was a really neat experience being able to go into an actual Gold Mine. Ashley and I decided to put this adventure into the Eagle Mining Company's Gold Mine and classify it as a Mine Hike, as we figured it would be something our readers would like to do. A journey into the Eagle Mines Gold Mine is a fun thing to do in Julian, California.

Directions to Trailhead: To get to this Golf Mine in Julian, from Orange County, head toward the town of Julian, California. Once you enter Julian via the 78 highway, and head through the main portion of town, make a left on C street. The mine is located towards the end of C street. There are signs that direct you toward the gold mine. The cost for going in the gold mine is $10 for adults (Tips are welcome). The Eagle Mining Company's Gold Mine don't accept credit cards. Their hours of operation for tours of the mine are from 10am - 3pm.

Description of Hike: At the Eagle Mining Company, five blocks east of the center of Julian, you can take an hour long tour of an authentic Julian gold mine. A small rock shop and gold-mining museum are also on the premises. The gold mine hike goes for a total of about 1,000 feet into the mine. You enter on one side of a large hill and you come out on a completely different side. There are a lot of stops inside the mine where you get a chance to learn about the history of this mine, the history of mining in the Julian area, as well as learn about general mining culture. While on the tour of this mine in Julian, the mine is lit with lights so you can see where you are going. While on your tour inside the Eagle Mining Company's Gold Mine in Julian, you also change tunnels a couple of times.

Further Thoughts: Ashley and I enjoyed this adventure into the gold mine in Julian. We had never been inside an actual mine before and really don't know of too many places that actually allow the public the opportunity to go inside a real mine. While in the Eagle Mining Company's Gold Mine we learned about the process of digging the mine as well as facts about the history of this particular mine. It was quite amazing to learn how many tunnels there were in the mountain side and how deep this gold mine actually went. If you are looking to go inside a real gold mine this is the perfect opportunity and is a fun thing to do when visiting Julian, California.

There were a couple of negatives about the site, specifically the restrooms were run down, and the facility outside of the gold mine could use a little TLC. Before we went on this trip to the gold mine in Julian, we had read some negative reviews about the people giving the tours. We thought our tour guide did a good job, and was somewhat of a cross of the character Doc Brown in Back to the Future and an actual miner. Bottom-line is expect the person giving you the tour of the Eagle Mining Company's Gold Mine to be a character if it was the same person we had. The tour guide did know his facts on the mine and took his time showing us the highlights of the mine.

This was a one of a kind experience as there are not many other places that will actually take you into an old gold mine and really show you what it was like to be a miner in the late 1800's.

Rating: Elevation Gain: Minimal (Easy), Distance: Less than 0.5 Mile Roundtrip (Easy).

Time to Complete Hike: 1 - 1.5 hours.


View Mine Hike in a larger map

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Stonewall Mine (Cuyamaca Rancho State Park)

Stonewall Mine in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is a great day hike near Lake Cuyamaca outside of Julian California. While at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, Ashley and I had a chance to do a small hike around Stonewall Mine right near Lake Cuyamaca. Stonewall Mine was a large gold mine in the late 1800's and was one of the most productive gold mines in the Julian area. It is located in some very amazing scenery in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, surrounded by Lake Cuyamaca and Montane Meadow. The hike around Stonewall Mine is a fun short day hike in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park that the whole family can do together.

Directions to Trailhead: To get to the trailhead to hike to Stonewall Mine in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, from the town of Julian, CA, take the 79 highway south until you enter the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. After you enter the park and round your way around Lake Cuyamaca, you will make a left onto the road going to the mine. There is signage indicating the road to Stonewall Mine. If you go past the Paso Picacho Campground you have gone too far. The road is pretty much a paved one lane road much of the way after you make the turn from highway 79, so be careful on the road. There are several parking spots at the end of the road by Stonewall Mine. You can view a map of where Stonewall Mine is located in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park by clicking Here. As of the date of this post, there is an $8 cost for day parking at this location.

Description of Hike: The Stonewall Mine Hike in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is a fun short hike that goes through some of the most scenic areas of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. The trails are well maintained and you are likely to see other hikers while out on this trail around Stonewall Mine. The hike also goes through an area that is heavily traveled by the park's wildlife, the Montane Meadow. The hike is under a mile long with minimal elevation gain and thus is one you can do with the whole family. You can make the hike longer by exploring some of the nearby trails if you like. Overall, this is an easy, but fun hike in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. For a map of the trails in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, click Here.

Further Thoughts: Ashley and I really enjoyed this hike at Stonewall Mine in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. It was short, but offered both a historical view into California's mining culture as well as the opportunity to view the wildlife at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. While we were there it was neat to see deer wandering through what used to be a mining operation. There are informational plaques that explain about the history of Stonewall Mine. You cannot go into the mine, because there are fences around the site.

Between 1870 and 1892, Stonewall Mine produced over $2 million worth of gold, which is equivalent to about $60 million in today’s dollars. It was one of the largest mining operations in the region. Much of Stonewall Mine was torn down in the 1920's and sold for scrap, but some remnants of Stonewall Mine remain. To learn more about the history of Stonewall Mine in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park click Here for a link to the state parks website or click Here for a link to an informative article on Stonewall Mine and the lost city of Cuyamaca.

The Cuyamaca Rancho State Park also has a non-profit that is associated with it, the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park Interpretive Association. The Cuyamaca Rancho State Park Interpretive Associations supports both Cuyamaca Rancho and Palomar Mountain State Parks.

Overall, we enjoyed this area of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. It has great views, the trails were in good shape, and we got to see the remnants of a gold mine. Also, in one spot on the trail there was a bench to sit and watch for wildlife which was nice. We sat and watched several deer cross the valley below us. Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is a must visit for any Southern California Hiker.

Rating: Elevation Gain: Minimal (Easy), Distance: 1 Mile Roundtrip (Easy).

Time to Complete Hike: 30 minutes

MORE TRAIL WRITE-UPS ON CUYAMACA RANCHO STATE PARK

Cuyamaca Peak

Stonewall Mine (This Post)

Stonewall Peak


View Stonewall Mine Hike in a larger map

Monday, December 27, 2010

Cuyamaca Peak (Cuyamaca Rancho State Park)

Cuyamaca Peak in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is a great day hike near Lake Cuyamaca outside of Julian California. Ashley and I got a chance to explore Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, where we hiked Cuyamaca Peak. Cuyamaca Peak is the second tallest peak in San Diego County, at 6,512 feet, and it offers sweeping vistas of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and the greater Southern California area to those who reach its summit.

Directions to Trailhead: To get to the trailhead to hike to Cuyamaca Peak in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, from the town of Julian, CA, take the 79 highway south until you enter the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. You want to park at the Paso Picacho Campground. You can view the map below or can find a link to a map Here. As of the date of this post, there is an $8 cost for day parking at this location. There is plenty of parking at the trailhead to hike to Cuyamaca Peak.

Description of Hike: The hike to Cuyamaca Peak at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, via the Fire Look Out Road, is a 7 mile roundtrip hike with roughly 1,500 feet of elevation gain. The hike to Cuyamaca Peak is uphill the entire way from the trailhead and is an out and back hike. One negative of the hike is that it is paved from the trailhead to the summit, as it is a fire road. One thing that you will notice while hiking in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is the destruction that was left from the 2003 cedar creek fire. Even though a number of years have passed since the fire, you can still see much of the destruction left by the 2003 cedar creek fire. Snow is common during the winter time on Cuyamaca Peak, especially after winter storms in Southern California. There was a little snow on Cuyamaca Peak when we did this hike in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, mostly above the 5,500 foot mark.

On clear days, visibility from the summit of Cuyamaca Peak ranges from 60–100 miles in almost every direction. To the west, the Pacific Ocean, the Coronado Islands of Mexico, the coast line of San Diego County, Viejas Mountain, and El Cajon Mountain can be seen. Looking north, one can see 6,140-foot Palomar Mountain among the ridge of the Palomar Mountains. On very clear days the 8,716-foot Toro Peak in the Santa Rosas and the San Jacintos are visible. Closer yet is Volcan Mountain slightly to the northeast, with the former gold rush town of Julian lying in front. Directly north are the closest summits, Middle and North Peaks. Directly east is the Anza Borrego Desert and the Laguna Mountains, including Whale Peak. Far beyond is the Salton Sea. To the south are Lyons Peak and Lawson Peak; further yet and to the southeast are Mexican border mountains. For a map of the trails in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, click Here.

Further Thoughts: This was a great hike in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park with amazing views at the top of Cuyamaca Peak, even though there were clouds from the recent series of Southern California Winter Storms that passed through shortly before we did this hike. These storms cleared out the air and gave Ashley and I breathtaking views of the greater Southern California area throughout our hike to the summit of Cuyamaca Peak. The hike to Cuyamaca Peak will offer sweeping views to those who make the summit year round.

The series of storms only dumped a little bit of snow, as the snow level did not get very low. Ashley and I started to see traces of snow at about the 5,500 foot mark, but didn't encounter much snow until we were above 6,000 feet. It was great to be able to hike in the fresh snow on Cuyamaca Peak, as we had not hiked in the snow in a while. While at the summit of Cuyamaca Peak, we had a top of the world experience, because we were above the cloud layer and could see for probably 50 miles in each direction. We could even see Mt. San Jacinto and Mt. San Gorgonio in the San Bernadino Mountains.

When you come to Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, come prepared to see wildlife. While at Cuyamaca Rancho state park we were amazed to see the huge amount of wildlife that calls this state park home. We counted 25 deer and about 50 wild turkeys in the valley area of the park near Stonewall Mine during our visit to Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. This truly is a great place to observe Southern California wildlife. It is worth bringing a spotting scope to this location if you have one.

This hike to Cuyamaca Peak is a very popular hike, because it is the shortest way to the summit of one of San Diego's tallest mountains. On a normal day, you should expect to see other hikers while out on the trail. There are other longer ways to get to the summit that avoid the paved fire road. To learn more about those other options click Here. Another thing to potentially watch out for is service vehicles going to service the radio equipment at the top of Cuyamaca Peak. One truck came up while we were hiking to the top. One down side to this hike is the fact that the summit has radio towers and equipment at the top.

The park has a non-profit that is associated with it, the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park Interpretive Association. The Cuyamaca Rancho State Park Interpretive Associations supports both Cuyamaca Rancho and Palomar Mountain State Parks. Ashley and I really enjoyed this hike to Cuyamaca Peak. This area of the  San Diego Mountains truly displays natures beauty and is worth a visit by any Southern California hiker!

Rating: Elevation Gain: 1,500 ft. (Moderate - Strenuous), Distance: 7 Miles Roundtrip (Moderate).


Time to Complete Hike: 3 - 3.5 hours.

MORE TRAIL WRITE-UPS ON CUYAMACA RANCHO STATE PARK

Cuyamaca Peak (This Post)



View Cuyamaca Peak in a larger map

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

After our recent rains, Ashley and I had a chance to do some hiking in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, in the mountains east of San Diego. We did a couple a trails there and write ups of those, as well as some products we tested, will follow in the next several days. I wanted to share some pictures with our readers of the vast amount of wildlife that we saw while in this park. If you have not been to Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, I would recommend a visit not only for the amazing hiking, but also for the visibility of wildlife in the park.

The vast meadows of the park offer amazing viewing of wildlife. While there, we saw close to 50 wild turkeys in 3 separate flocks. We also counted 25 deer, 3 of them were bucks, and the wildlife photographer we ran into informed us that he watched a pack of Coyotes had make a kill about an hour before we arrived. This park offers amazing wildlife viewing opportunities. Make sure to bring binoculars or a spotting scope when you go to this park. The top picture is of the valley where we saw the most wildlife. The picture was taken on the hike to Cuyamaca Peak.



Thursday, December 9, 2010

Caspers fun for the Kids

December 4, 11, 18, 25 – Caspers Campfire Program: 7 – 8 p.m.

Come join a ranger for an hour of fun and learning about Caspers Wilderness Park. Our Campfire program may include a slide presentation, wilderness safety, games and activities for children, animal adaptations, skins and skulls, a live animal demonstration and a chance to visit the Nature Center.

Location: Caspers Wilderness Park. 33401 Ortega Hwy, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

Cost: Free Parking: $5 per vehicle

Contact: (949) 923-2210 or (949) 923-2207

Special Instructions: Topics may vary weekly. Camping not necessary.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

San Juan Hot Springs Hike Opportunity

December 19 – Exploring San Juan Hot Springs and Cold Springs Canyon Hike

9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Please join Caspers Park Naturalist Karin Klein on a 3-mile journey through history and nature as we explore the San Juan Hot Springs and Cold Springs Canyon. This hike will take you past the Hot Springs while learning its history and geologic significance, then it’s up Cold Springs Canyon where you’ll find a wide variety of Milkmaids, Canyon Sunflower, Miners Lettuce & Canyon Pea under this beautiful Coast Live Oak canopy. This hike is approximately 3 miles with 400-foot elevation gain.

Location: Caspers Wilderness Park. 33401 Ortega Hwy, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675. Meet at Hot Springs Parking lot on Hot Springs Road, behind Fire Station.

Cost: Free Parking: Free

Contact: (949) 923-2210 or (949) 923-2207

Special Instructions: Age 7 years and older. Reservations required. Please contact Office Technician, Cindi Morgan at 949-923-2207 or cindi.morgan@ocparks.com. Please bring water, sunscreen, hat and sturdy shoes. Call for directions.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Wilderness Travel Course

I saw this Wilderness Travel Course while looking at Modern Hiker, another great Southern California hiking blog that focuses primarily on the Los Angeles Area. I have not personally taken the travel course and plan to do so one day. However, this year it will not work out with either of Ashley and my schedule, but I figured our readers might be interested in the class.

The wilderness travel course appears to be a very popular class that is put on by the Sierra Club. It features classroom instruction coupled with hands on outdoor training. The course will cover things from gear selection, safety, map and compass navigation to rock scrambling and snow camping. Click HERE to find the schedules for the classes and further details about the 4 locations they are being held at. The early bird special on pricing ends December 15, 2010.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

South Coast Wilderness Hiking Opportunities

Here are a couple of notable upcoming South Coast Wilderness Hiking Opportunities. Please make reservations early as these hikes fill up quick.

December 4, Sat., 9 a.m.-12 p.m., Edible and Useful Plant Hike: Learn about edible and useful plants and on this moderate, but steep, uneven and rocky, 2.4-mile hike (100-ft. elevation gain) with Laguna Canyon Foundation volunteer naturalists. For ages 12 and up. Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, Canyon View Staging Area, Gate 7 (from southbound Aliso Creek Road, turn right on Glenwood [turns into Pacific Park] and right on Canyon Vistas to Canyon View Park). Reservations required: 949-923-2235. Donation: $2/person.

December 10, Friday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m., Discovery Hike: Explore beautiful Wood Canyon as you discover its wildlife with Laguna Canyon Foundation volunteer naturalists on this moderate, but steep, uneven and rocky, 5-mile hike (200-ft. elevation gain). Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, Canyon View Staging Area, Gate 7 (from southbound Aliso Creek Road, turn right on Glenwood [turns into Pacific Park] and right on Canyon Vistas to Canyon View Park). Reservations required: 949-923-2235. Donation: $2/person.

December 11, Sat., 8-11 a.m.., Native Plant Hike: Learn to identify native plants with Laguna Canyon Foundation volunteer naturalist Nadine Nordstrom (author of the South Coast Wilderness Plant Identification Guide) on this moderate, but steep and rocky, 5-mile hike. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, 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). Reservations required: 949-923-2235. Parking: $3. Donation: $2/person.

December 12, Sun., 8-11 a.m., Geology Hike: Enjoy unspoiled canyon views and learn about the geology of this area on this strenuous, 3.5-mile hike (700 ft. elevation gain) over steep and uneven terrain led by Laguna Canyon Foundation volunteer naturalists. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Willow Canyon Staging Area (20101 Laguna Canyon Road, just south of El Toro Road intersection). Reservations required: 949-923-2235. Parking: $3. Donation: $2/person.

December 19, Sun., 8-11:30 a.m., Birding Hike: Spot local native and migratory birds with Laguna Canyon Foundation volunteer naturalists on this 2-mile hike over uneven terrain through one of the most diverse plant communities in the United States. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, 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). Reservations required: 949-923-2235. Parking: $3. Donation: $2/person.

December 21, Tues., 6-9 p.m., Full Moon Winter Solstice Hike: Join OC Parks Resource Specialist Laura Cohen and Laguna Canyon Foundation volunteer naturalists on the shortest day of the year. This will be a moderate, 3.5-mile hike through Laurel and Willow canyons and up to Bommer Ridge for spectacular views under a full moon. Please bring a flashlight and water and wear long pants, a jacket and sturdy hiking shoes. Inclement weather will cancel. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Willow Canyon Staging Area (20101 Laguna Canyon Road, just south of El Toro Road intersection). Reservations required: 949-923-2235. Parking: $3. Donation: $2/person.

For Other Hikes offered in the South Coast Wilderness click HERE.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bren Gives 20,000 Acres to OC Parks

On Tuesday, November 30, 2010 Donald Bren signed a symbolic deed transferring 20,000 acres of the county's most untrammeled wild spaces from the Irvine Co. to OC Parks. Part of it will become the new Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park. It is the largest gift of land in the history of Orange County.

The Orange County Register did a write up on the article which can be found by clicking HERE. The Orange County Register has provided pictures of the ceremony and pictures of the open space in the article. Picture above is from the Register Article and offers views of the 20,000 acres.