Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Grizzly Bear National Monument

David Whiting had a very interesting article today in the Orange County Register about a group hoping to propose the Grizzly Bear National Monument for the 165,000-acre Trabuco District of the Cleveland National Forest. The article is well worth the read if you get the chance to look at it. The picture above is from the top of Saddleback Mountain(Santiago Peak) looking over the Trabuco District of the Cleveland National Forest. The photograph below is from the register article and is of the last Grizzly Bear that was killed in Orange County. The Grizzly Bear was killed in Holy Jim Canyon in 1908 and is on display in the Smithsonian. To read the article click Here. Feel free to leave a comment about what you think of a National Monument in Orange County. 


Monday, April 25, 2011

SoCal Wildflower Fest & Hike-A-Thon

If you are looking for what looks to be a fun Saturday you might be interest in the following event at Irvine Regional Park, which is also home to the Orange County Zoo, this upcoming Saturday April 30.
(Orange, Calif.) – OC Parks is proud to sponsor the SoCal Wildflower Fest and Hike-A-Thon presented by OC Hiking Club on April 30, 2011 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Irvine Regional and Santiago Oaks Parks. The celebration will feature wildflower exploration, various levels of hiking, an Expo Fest, outdoor skills clinics, live music, and activities designed to raise money for OC Hiking Club and connect people to the wonders of nature. 
Multiple nature hikes will be offered at the event for hikers of all skill levels and ages. The Vista Hike at 9 a.m. is an 8-mile advanced level hike with a 1,000-foot elevation gain. The Exploration Hike at 9:15 a.m. is an intermediate 4-mile hike with a 500-foot elevation gain. The Wildflower Hike at 9:30 a.m. is a moderate level 3-mile route with no elevation gain.  
Various skill clinics will be available at the Fest after the hikes including introductions to Southern California Wildflowers, ultra light backpacking 101, how to get your kids on the trail, lessons in high altitude backpacking, tips for out of town day hikes, cooking on the trail, returning to the trail after an injury, water purification on the trail for backpackers, orienteering map and compass education and much more. Bring your dog and learn tips for keeping your pooch safe on the trails. Photographers will have a unique opportunity to capture the blooming wildflower season and awards will be presented for the Third Annual Wildflower Photo Contest. Take a relaxing break and enjoy a yoga class or invigorating massage in the great outdoors. A barbecue lunch will be available for purchase. 
Registration begins at 8 a.m. at Irvine Regional Park. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children 18 years of age and under. Registration includes a t-shirt, all activities, parking, and goodies. Each hike acts as a fundraiser for OC Hiking Club, a non-profit organization, and donating $1 commits you to raise $100 to the cause. Prizes will be awarded to the top hike fundraisers and announced along with the winner of the OC Register/OC Hiking Club Wildflower Photo Contest at 1 p.m. at the event.


SoCal Wildflower Fest and Hike-A-Thon 
Date: Saturday, April 30, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. 
Hiker Registration: 8 a.m. 
Vista Hike: 9 a.m. 
Exploration Hike: 9:15 a.m. 
Wildflower Hike: 9:30 a.m.
Event Fee: $10 adults/$5 children 18 and under   
Parking Fee: Included in event fee. 
Location: Irvine Regional Park, 1 Irvine Park Road, Orange, CA 92869 
Contact and Registration: http://socalwildflowerfest.org

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Mason Regional Park

Mason Regional Park is located close to UC-Irvine and is in close proximity to the South Coast Wilderness and the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary. Mason Regional Park is a great, less known, urban hiking location in Orange County. This is a hike that the whole family can do together as most of the trails are paved and offers great opportunities to see local wildlife. Note, ff you are looking for a true wilderness experience, this is probably not the hike for you, due to the close proximity to homes along the trail which is why it is classified as an urban hike. For more pictures make sure to check out our Facebook Page.

Directions to TrailheadWilliam R. Mason Regional Park is located at 18712 University Drive in the City of Irvine. To get to the hike at Mason Regional Park take the 405 Freeway and exit at Culver. Take Culver, going towards UC-Irvine, and make a right onto University Dr. The entrance to Mason Regional Park is on your left at the light. The parks hours are the following: Fall - Winter Hours: 7:00am to 6:00pm. and Spring - Summer Hours: 7:00am to 9:00pm. There are several other access points to the wilderness area of Mason Regional Park in the surrounding neighborhoods (such as Golden Glow Street and Yale Avenue). We have provided the Google map below. Parking costs $5 on weekends and $3 on weekdays. Parking is free in the surrounding neighborhoods. 

Description of Hike: This is an urban hike in the heart of Orange County that goes through 123 acres of land that is designated as a wilderness area within Mason Regional Park. It is a riparian lowland area that ranges in width from 600 to 1,400 feet between a section of homes in Irvine. This is an out an back trail and most of the trail is paved. There is one section where the trail in Mason Regional that is not paved. To access the wilderness area in Irvine, it is necessary to park at Mason Regional Park and cross Culver at the street light. The trail system in the wilderness section of Mason Regional Park is well marked and easy to follow. However, there are no trail maps provided at the trailheads, so it might be a good idea to print out a trail map of the hiking trails at Mason Regional Park that can be found Here. The trail going the entire length of the wilderness section is 3.2 miles roundtrip and there is minimal elevation gain. It is a fun day hike in the heart of Orange County and offers a quick excursion into an urban wilderness area. Additionally, you can find the Mason Regional Park brochure by clicking Here.

Further Thoughts: This was a fun short hike in an area of Irvine that you might not think has as much open space as it does. The area between Culver and Ridgeline Drive encompasses 123 acres and consists primarily of broad, flat lowland, ranging in width from 600 to 1,400 feet. The southern edge of this area of Mason Regional Park is rimmed with substantial north-facing slopes for much of its length. This area was cultivated in the past for crops such as barley, which means you will might find some non-native species of plants here. The wilderness section supports examples of four different natural communities: Non-native grassland, coastal sage scrub, southern willow woodland, and mulefat scrub. The primary emphasis of this area is the restoration and enhancement of the natural plant communities found in Southern California. This wilderness area of Mason Regional Park provides habitat for several rare or endangered bird species, including the California Gnatcatcher and the Least Bell’s Vireo.

Sections along this hiking trail in Orange County have streams that are full of water for most of the year. In these streams you can find small fish in addition to crayfish. The trails in this section of Mason Regional Park are heavily used by residents from the surrounding areas in Irvine and by the students from University High School. You are likely to see others on the trail when you do this hiking in Orange County. Even though this is classified as an urban hike because of the close proximity to homes and a couple of roads, it still has some impressive views and offers a good chance to see local wildlife. As noted above if you are looking for a true wilderness experience, this hike is not for you.

We have also highlighted on the Google map below a couple other areas inside the non-wilderness sections of Mason Regional Park (more like your local neighborhood park in these sections). Inside Mason Regional Park there is a butterfly garden that is worth a visit, especially if you have kids. There is also a lake inside Mason Regional Park with walking paths that go all the way around it. The lake walk at Mason Regional Park in Orange County is a very a scenic walk and is a great option if you are looking to add additional mileage to your hike in Mason Regional Park. Mason Regional Park is well maintained by the folks at OC Parks. Pictures from this section can be found on our Facebook Page. The lake is also home to turtles as well as ducks and geese.

Rating: Elevation Gain: Minimal (Easy), Distance: 3.2 Miles Roundtrip (Easy).

Time to Complete Hike: 1 - 2 hours


View Mason Regional Park in a larger map

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

From The Edge With Peter Lik

The folks at the Weather Channel reached out to us to share with our readers information about their new show, From The Edge With Peter Lik. The show airs every Thursday at 8p.m. & 11p.m. Eastern Time. You can click Here for a link to their episode guide. Additionally you can click Here for a biography on Peter Lik. 


Tomorrow is a double header where at 8PM Eastern Time you can follow Peter as he travels to Death Valley, which is not too far from Southern California. This episode is immediately followed by another episode at 8:30 Eastern Time where you can follow Peter as he travels to Glacier National Park in Montana. Ashley and I had the chance to watch the first episode of the show which was in Hawaii and we both enjoyed it. Here are a couple of clips from the show. 




Each week viewers are encouraged to submit their photos for a chance to win a grand prize. This week's photo challenge is the following: 
This week we want to see your winter landscape photos. You could share apicture of snow-capped mountains, towering glaciers, frozen fjords oranything that reminds you of the serenity of winter.Once you upload your photo, be sure to tell your friends to check out thecontest and vote for their favorite photo! Peter will choose a weekly winnerand all weekly winners will be eligible for the Grand PrizeEnter for a chance to win an all expenses paid trip for you and a friend to Las Vegas that includes: Tour of one of Peter's famed galleries, a Grand Canyon helicopter tour, a Grand Canyon picnic experience, transportation and hotel accommodations, as well as $500 spending money.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Peters Canyon Regional Park

Peters Canyon Regional Park offs great hiking in Orange County. Ashley and I recently had a chance to visit Peters Canyon Regional Park, which is a great day hiking location in the heart of Orange County. This park, even though it is surround by homes in some spots, packs a punch. It offers great views to those who hike here as well as the opportunity to see abundant local wildlife. Peters Canyon Regional Park is a great place to hike at and offers hiking trails in Orange County that the whole family will enjoying doing together. For more pictures of this hike check out our Facebook Page


Directions to Trailhead: To get to Peters Canyon Regional Park, from the 5 freeway, exit at Jamboree Road. You will want to head East and go through the Tustin Market place. You will be on Jamboree for a little over 5 miles and you will make a left onto Canyon View. There will also be signage at Canyon View indicating the turn for Peters Canyon Regional Park. After the turn onto Canyon View, the entrance to Peters Canyon Regional Park is located on your left. Parking at Peters Canyon Regional Park costs 3 dollars. The park is open daily from 7a.m. to sunset, 7 days a week. The park is closed for roughly three days following rain and/or hazardous conditions. We have provided a Google map below of the park, for an additional map click Here


Description of Hike: Peters Canyon Regional Park has just over 6 miles of trails going through this OC Park. The trails are well maintained by the people at O.C. Parks and are well marked so you know which trail you are on. Ashley and I did a 4.5 mile loop of Peters Canyon Regional Park. This included a loop around the Peters Canyon Reservoir, located in the upper portion of the park, in addition to a loop around the canyon portion of Peters Canyon Regional Park. The hike we did had roughly 500 feet of elevation gain to it. We took the Lake View Trail, to the Cactus Point Trail, back to the Lake View Trail, to the East Ridge Trail, to the Scout Hill Trail, to the Creek Trail, to the Peters Canyon Trail, back to the Lake View Trail. Maps of the hiking trails at Peters Canyon Regional Park are available at the trailhead. Sections of the East Ridge Trail, especially the first portion closest to the reservoir, are pretty steep and will give you a good workout. If you are looking to do a shorter loop, the Lake View Trail which goes around Peters Canyon Regional Park's Reservoir is a 2.5 mile loop with less elevation gain that the one we did. A printable map of the hiking trails at Peters Canyon Regional Park can be found Here. The park brochure for Peters Canyon Regional Park can be found Here.


Further Thoughts: Ashley and I really enjoyed our time at Peters Canyon Regional Park. The beginning portions of the hike were close to some of the roads near the park entrance, but after that initial setting things at this park were amazing and at times felt like you were deep in the wilderness. Portions along the hike offer great views of the Angeles National Forest, Saddleback Mountain, the greater Orange County area, and a large portion of the Santa Ana Mountains. The views coupled with the full reservoir during wet year in Southern California offered amazing sights to see.When we hiked at Peters Canyon Regional Park, everything at this park was green since we visited during the rainy season in Southern California. Bottom-line is the hike offers amazing views and the best time to visit this park is during the Fall, Winter, or Spring. If you visit during the summer make sure to bring sunscreen, a good hat, and plenty of water as shade is lacking along some of the trails.


One of the amazing things Peters Canyon Regional Park offers is the chance to see local Orange County wildlife. While were were hiking here we saw a coyote in the process of hunting one of the rabbits at the park. We also observed a male and female road runner, who were likely near their nest. It was neat to sit back and listen to them talk to one another. We also saw a number of hawks and turkey vultures flying overhead. In addition to this, while walking on the creek trail it was neat to hear and see some of the frogs at Peters Canyon Regional Park. 


The official Peters Canyon Regional Park website states the following on wildlife. The wildlife population includes mule deer, bobcats, coyotes, opossums, raccoons and an occasional mountain lion. Many smaller amphibians, mammals and reptiles abound, attracted by the lure of Peters Canyon Reservoir and Creek. Cactus wrens, gnatcatchers and rufous-crowned sparrows may be found in the park's coastal sage scrub and grassland communities. The eucalyptus groves are home to Cooper's, red-tail and red-shouldered hawks that can be seen patrolling the skies for unwary prey. Ashley and both doubt that many deer frequent the park because access to the park would be difficult for them given the surrounding residential developments and we didn't see any deer tracks at the park. However, we still would not be surprised to see one at this park.


This park does have some interesting history. During World War II, Peters Canyon Regional Park was used as a training area for the U.S. Army. "Camp Commander," as it was known, was established in the eucalyptus groves near Little Peters Lake, or what is known today as Lower Peters Canyon Retarding Basin. Mock battles were staged between Camp Commander and "Camp Rathke," an Army post two miles away in Irvine Regional Park. On March 3, 1992, the Irvine Company dedicated 354 acres of Peters Canyon to the County of Orange to be preserved as open space. This land was turned into the beautiful Peters Canyon Regional Park that exists today.


This is a great Orange County Hike and both Ashley and I would both recommend this hike to others who are looking to get out and explore some of the wilderness areas in Orange County. This is a very popular park and you will likely see other hikers and locals from the surrounding neighborhood out enjoying Peters Canyon Regional Park.


Rating: Elevation Gain: 500 ft. (Easy), Distance: 4.5 Miles Roundtrip (Easy - Moderate). 


Time to Complete Hike: 2 - 3 hours.


View Peters Canyon Regional Park in a larger map

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Caspers Adventure Day (This Saturday)

Here is some information on Caspers Adventure Day which is this weekend. It looks like a fun even for the whole family and Caspers has some of the county's best hiking trails. Here is the link to one of our trail write-ups on Caspers Wilderness Park


(San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) – OC Parks presents the annual Adventure Day at Caspers Wilderness Park in San Juan Capistrano on Saturday, April 16 from 10 a.m. 3 p.m. Families and friends of all ages can enjoy natural history tours, wildlife exhibits, musical entertainment, arts and crafts, games and refreshments.

Caspers Wilderness Park will host wildlife-inspired games of ring-toss, trivia quizzes, cowboy lasso, and potato sack and spoon and egg races. Educational programs and interactive experiences include a Hawk Talk, pelts and skins and animal track discovery. Learn the workings of a real fire engine with the Orange County Fire Authority and the necessities of a complete campsite with REI. The Dusty Rangers will perform an adventure-themed musical skit, Orange County Parks guitarists will serenade, and Acjachemem Tribal Descendant Jacque Tahuka Nunez will enact a journey through the past to Native American times through theatrical storytelling. 

Adventure Day admission is free and children and adults of all ages are encouraged to attend and participate in the fun.Caspers Wilderness Park will be extending complimentary parking to all attendees for this special day. Let the adventures begin!

Adventure DayDate: Saturday, April 16, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Event Fee: FREE Parking Fee: FREE
Location: Caspers Wilderness Park. 33401 Ortega Highway, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Contact: (949) 923-2210

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Wooded Hill Nature Trail to Wooded Hill Peak (Laguna Mountain Recreation Area)

The Wooded Hill Nature Trail hike to the Wooded Hill Peak is a fun short day hike in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area that offers sweeping views at the summit (6,223 feet) of the trail and is a great hike the whole family can do together! This is a fun kid friendly hike in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area. For more pictures of the Wooded Hill Nature Trail hike to Wooded Hill Peak in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area make sure to check out our Facebook Page.


Directions to TrailheadTo get to the trail to hike the Wooded Hill Nature Trail to Wooded Hill Peak, from Orange County, take the I-5 south to SR 78 in San Diego County. Go east on SR 78 through Escondido to the junction with SR 79 just past the town of Julian. Turn right (south) on SR 79.Go approximately 6 miles to the junction with Sunrise Highway (S1) on the left. Turn left on to the Sunrise Highway (S1). You will need to follow along highway S1 until you reach the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area which is indicated by a sign. The trailhead is just past mile marker 22. There is a sign indicating the Wooded Hill Nature Trail and the Agua Dulce Equestrian trailhead. There is ample parking at the trailhead fpr the Wooded Hill Nature Trail hike in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area of the Cleveland National Forest. You will need to have your Forest Adventure Pass displayed to park in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area.


Description of Hike: This hike is an easy hike to the Wooded Hill Peak summit that offers sweeping views of the surrounding area and on clear days downtown San Diego. There are two options to the Wooded Hill Nature Trail, one a 0.5 mile loop and the other 1.5 mile loop. Both have minimal elevation gain. The 1.5 mile loop has about 212 feet of elevation gain and the 0.5 mile loop has about 100 feet of elevation gain. Both Ashley and I would recommend doing the 1.5 mile loop because the 0.5 mile loop does not go the top of Wooded Hill Peak and does not offer the same sweeping views. Make sure to do the full loop when the trails cross. Keep heading up the Wooded Hill Nature Trail and don't turn back down. The entire trail for these two hikes resembles a figure 8 loop. The Wooded Hill Nature Trail to Wooded Hill Peak goes through some of the most beautiful pine forests in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area. Thankfully this area was not hit by the 2003 Cedar Fire that ravaged a significant portion of the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area. This area does receive a lot of snow in the winter and this trail might be impassable due to snow if you are visiting during the winter. At the summit, you have views of the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area, the Anza-Borrego Desert, the mountains in Mexico, downtown San Diego, and the Pacific Ocean. We had at least 60 miles of visibility when we did this hike at the summit of Wooded Hill. 


Further Thoughts: Ashley and I really enjoyed this hike in our local San Diego Mountains. The Wooded Hill Nature Trail was very easy to hike and there was not to much uphill. The trails were marked as this hike is in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area which made the hiking trails easy to navigate. When we did this hike in the Cleveland National Forest there was still snow on the trail, but we could tell it was melting fast. It would be neat to see the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area covered in snow. The views on this hike continue to get better the higher you go. Make sure to take the full loop on this hike. 


When Ashley and I got to the summit of the hike we were amazed at the views. You could literally see for miles in all directions which was amazing. We could even make out the skyline of downtown San Diego from the summit of the Wooded Hill Peak. At the top there are some rocks that are perfect to sit on and enjoy the views and even a packed lunch. There is even a little registry for those that go to the top. I would suggest packing a lunch and enjoying it at the top of the Wooded Hill Nature Trail. This hike offers amazing views and the best part is that this is a hike the whole family could do together as it is short and has minimal elevation gain. The hike also has plenty of shade due to the tall pine trees that are in this area.


The Wooded Hill Nature Trail to Wooded Hill Peak also has an interpretive trail guide for those that hike it. At the trailhead there are little pamphlets for you to pick up that will provide an explanation of the various markers you see while on the Wooded Hill Nature Trail. There are a total of 31 stations along the trail and the pamphlets provides an explanation for each of the 31 stations. You will learn about things like Jeffrey Pines, California Black Oak, Manzanita, to erosion control, and natural reforestation. This is a fun short hike that rewards those hikers who reach it's summit with amazing views. 

Rating: Elevation Gain: 212 ft. (Easy), Distance: 1.5 Miles Roundtrip (Easy).

Time to Complete Hike: 1 hour.

MORE TRAIL WRITE-UPS ON THE LAGUNA MOUNTAIN RECREATION AREA



Wooded Hill Nature Trail (This Post)


View Wooded Hill Nature Trail (Laguna Mountain Recreation Area) in a larger map

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Kwaaymii Nature Trail (Laguna Mountain Recreation Area)

During our most recent visit to the Laguna Mountain Recreation AreaAshley and I had the opportunity to hike the Kwaaymii Nature Trail. The Kwaaymii Nature Trail is a short easy hike near the visitor center in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area and is a fun hike for the whole family. This is a fun kid friendly hike in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area. For more pictures of our hike on the Kwaaymii Nature Trail make sure to check out or Facebook Page


Directions to TrailheadTo get to the trail to hike theKwaaymii Nature Trail, from Orange County, take the I-5 south to SR 78 in San Diego County. Go east on SR 78 through Escondido to the junction with SR 79 just past the town of Julian. Turn right (south) on SR 79.Go approximately 6 miles to the junction with Sunrise Highway (S1) on the left. Turn left on to the Sunrise Highway (S1). You will need to follow along highway S1 until you reach the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area which is indicated by a sign. The trailhead is at mile marker 23.5, which is right by the Laguna Mountain Visitor Center and Laguna Mountain Lodge which is located in the middle of the the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area. There is ample parking at the trailhead. You will need to have youForest Adventure Pass displayed to park in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area.


Description of Hike: The Kwaaymii Nature Trail is a well maintained loop that is 0.5 miles roundtrip with an approximate elevation gain of 100 feet. It is a single track trail that meanders through the conifer pine forests in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area. The Kwaaymii Nature Trail is also a self guided nature trail that has an informational pamphlet at the beginning of the hike for you to pick up. The different numbers on the trail correspond to the numbers on the pamphlet which tell you what you are looking while hiking on this trail. The pamphlet tells you a little bit about the Kwaaymii Indians that used to inhabit the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area in addition to the natural landscape. The Kwaaymii Nature Trail has markers highlighting Jeffrey Pines, Acorns, Wild Lilac, Manzanita, Plant Food and Bedrock Mortars, Pinyon Pine, Mountain Mahogany, and more. This is a fun hike that the entire family will enjoy because it is short and does not have to much elevation gain.


Further ThoughtsAshley and I really enjoyed our hike on the Kwaaymii Nature Trail in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area. It was very peaceful going through the mountain pine trees and taking in the nice views the trail had to offer. The self-guided Kwaaymii Interpretive Trail offers excellent insight into the natural history of the region. This trail highlights the Kwaaymii Indians, who inhabited this region hundreds of years ago. These Native Americans passed the winter in the low, warm desert valley to the east, then climbed the steep canyons looking for respite from the harsh summer sun.


The trail starts right behind the Laguna Mountain Visitor Center and climbs gently to the top of Pinyon Point where you will find morteros, grinding holes in the rocks used by the Kwaaymii, the Native Americans who spent their summer months in the Laguna Mountains use to prepare food. The top of the hill is adorned with several specimens of Sierra Juarez pinyon pine as well as holy-leafed cherry and prickly pear cactus. These provided nourishment for the Kwaaymii. In winter, this area of the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area is at times blanketed with snow, which completes the four season cycle for the area.


One nice thing about the Kwaaymii Nature Trail is the close proximity to the Visitor Information Center where you can find out more about the plants, animals, and artifacts found in the Laguna Mountains. The Laguna Mountain Lodge is also located right near the start of the Kwaaymii Nature Trail. They offer Cabins for rent for those looking to stay multiple nights to explore the various trails and sights in the Laguna Mountain Area. The Laguna Mountain Lodge also has a store that sells food, drinks, maps, and more. Bottom-line is this is a fun short kid friendly day hike the whole family can do together in the San Diego Mountains.

Rating: Elevation Gain: 100 ft. (Easy), Distance: 0.5 Miles Roundtrip (Easy).

Time to Complete Hike: 30 minutes.

MORE TRAIL WRITE-UPS ON THE LAGUNA MOUNTAIN RECREATION AREA

Garnet Peak

Kwaaymii Nature Trail (This Post)

Wooded Hill Nature Trail

View Kwaaymii Nature Trail (Laguna Mountain Recreation Area) in a larger map

Friday, April 8, 2011

OC Fire Watch Training April 16

Here is some information about the OC Fire Watch Training April 16 from the OC Parks Website. This looks like a great volunteer opportunity. (Picture above from 2007 Santiago Fire)
Orange County residents who want to help prevent wildfires can volunteer with the OC Fire Watch program. Training for OC Fire Watch, which is part of the County’s Adopt-a-Park program, takes place Saturday, April 16 at Santiago Oaks Regional Park in Orange. OC Fire Watch deploys two-person teams to the County’s wilderness and regional parks during red-flag conditions. Volunteers are trained to look for suspicious behavior and to report fires immediately, decreasing response time and potential for large-scale wildfires. 
To register, you may complete the online General Volunteer Application. Once we process your application, you will receive an email with further registration information. Volunteers will attend one program orientation meeting and one OC Fire Watch training session. Generally, these are scheduled the same day. Both training sessions are available April 16. Training lasts from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with lunch provided. Additional training sessions are scheduled for Aug. 6 and Oct. 15.
Once the OC Fire Watch Volunteer Screening is complete and the volunteer is accepted into the OC Fire Watch program, volunteers will receive a welcome email. The OC Fire Watch photo badge will follow in the mail. After completing both trainings, OC Parks Volunteer Services Coordinator will issue the following items: OC Fire Watch T-shirt, hat, vest, car magnet, ready bags for supplies, etc.

For more information, please contact OC Parks Volunteer Services:Angeline Soto: 714-566-3035 email: Angeline.soto@OCCR.ocgov.com

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ortega Highway Construction

Just wanted to let everyone know that there might be delays on Ortega Highway for those looking to go hiking in that area during the next 4 weeks. Caltrans is going to be repairing embankment damage that was caused by some of our recent storms. Beginning on Wednesday night, the highway will be closed from 8:30pm to 4:30am to both eastbound and westbound traffic from the Candy Store to Nichols Institute Road.

During the day there will be continuous two-way traffic with a flagging control operating from 4:30am to 8:30pm. Caltrans officials are advising those using the Ortega to expect a 10 - 15 minute delay. The construction will last approximately 4 weeks.  The picture above is from Sitton Peak in 2008 which features a view at past construction operations.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Garnet Peak (Laguna Mountain Recreation Area)

Garnet Peak, at 5,900 feet, is a great hike in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area, as Garnet Peak marks the boundary between the alpine San Diego Mountains and the Anza-Borrego Desert below. Recently, Ashley and I had the chance to visit the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area where we hiked to the summit of Garnet Peak. This is a fun short day hike in the San Diego Mountains that offers stunning views of the surrounding Laguna Mountain Recreation Area and the Anza Borrego Desert State Park. For more pictures of this hike check out our Facebook Page


Directions to Trailhead: To get to the trailhead to hike to Garnet Peak, from Orange County, take the I-5 south to SR 78 in San Diego County. Go east on SR 78 through Escondido to the junction with SR 79 just past the town of Julian. Turn right (south) on SR 79.Go approximately 6 miles to the junction with Sunrise Highway (S1) on the left. Turn left. Note your odometer and go as follows: At roughly 7.4 miles, a paved road on the left with a sign "Kwaaymii Point". This is the turnoff for Garnet Mountain, not Garnet Peak. Keep straight. At roughly 9.9 miles (after mile marker 28) a parking area at a barricaded dirt road on the left. There is a small trail sign that says "to Garnet Peak". Park here. There is really only space for probably three cars at this location. You have gone too far if you hit the turnout with the Penny Pines display. You will need to have your Forest Adventure Pass displayed to park in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area.


Description of Hike: The hike to Garnet Peak is a great hike in the Laguna Mountain Recreation area as it is roughly 2.5 miles roundtrip and has roughly 500 feet of elevation gain. The trail to Garnet Peak was in great shape when we went on this hike. You can still see the damage from the 2003 Cedar Fire throughout this area. The evidence of the fire damage is seen through the loss of trees in the area, but many young trees have started to grow again. Give this area another 10 years and hopefully it will look more like it did before the fire. This hike is absolutely breathtaking the closer to Garnet Peak you get. At the summit, you are rewarded with sweeping views of the Anza Borrego Desert State Park and views of the Salton Sea. You also have amazing views of the entire Laguna Mountain Recreation Area, as well as views of Palomar Mountain,  Mt. San Jacinto, and Mt. San Gorgonio. If you are visiting the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area (Which is the Descanso Ranger District of the Cleveland National Forest), this is a great out and back hike and you might have the opportunity to view wildlife in this area as it is abundant.  Due to the fire damage there is limited shade, but this will all change in the future as trees continue to grow back.


Further Thoughts: Ashley and I both really enjoyed our time hiking in the 8,000 acre Laguna Mountain Recreation Area. This area of the San Diego Mountains is a beautiful mountain area that ranges in elevation from roughly 5,000 feet to over 6,000 feet. The hiking trail to Garnet Peak was a fun hike and we were rewarded at the top with at least 60 mile views in all directions, in addition to the 360 degree panoramic view that is well worth the hike. The weather is always cooler up at Garnet Peak as compared to the hot desert below, which makes hiking here pleasant in most seasons. This hike is best done during the Fall, Winter, or Spring. However, if you go during one of the hot days of summer make sure to bring plenty of water and use sunscreen as there is limited shade.


When we did this hike, there was still water flowing in the seasonal stream that follows the hiking trail to Garnet Peak for a portion of the hike. It was neat to see the wide variety of animal tracks that were present in the mud on the trail. These wide variety of animal tracks showed that you might have the opportunity to view different types of wildlife if you are hiking here, so have your camera ready.
One of the neat things on the hike to Garnet Peak is that you cross the Pacific Crest Trail, which goes through the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area. It is always neat to cross the Pacific Crest Trail when hiking in Southern California. The hike to Garnet Peak is the perfect hike to pack a lunch and eat at the summit, as there are plenty of rocks to sit on that provide an amazing view for those that hike to the summit of Garnet Peak. We would imagine this is a busy hike during the summer or weekends, but when Ashley and I hiked to Garnet Peak we were the only ones on the trail. Bottom-line is the hike to Garnet Peak is a fun day hike in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area in the San Diego Mountains.   


Rating: Elevation Gain: 500 ft. (Easy), Distance: 2.5 Miles Roundtrip (Easy).

Time to Complete Hike: 1- 2 hours.


MORE TRAIL WRITE-UPS ON THE LAGUNA MOUNTAIN RECREATION AREA

Garnet Peak (This Post)




View Garnet Peak in a larger map