Monday, November 12, 2012

Hiking Oak Glen Preserve (The Wildlands Conservancy)

The Wildlands Conservancy's Oak Glen Preserve offers a fun family friend hike in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California. The Oak Glen Preserve has fun family friendly hiking trails that venture through very scenic areas. Best of all you can couple your hike at the Wildlands Conservany's Oak Glen Preserve with a visit to Los Rios Ranch to pick Apples (when in season) and other fresh produce! For more pictures of this hike, make sure to check out our Facebook Page.

Directions to Trailhead: To get to the trailhead to hike at the Oak Glen Preserve, heading from Orange County, take the 91 freeway towards Riverside and then take the 10 freeway heading east toward Palm Springs. Exit from the 10 freeway on Live Oak Canyon/Oak Glen Road. Turn left (going over the freeway). Live Oak Canyon Road becomes Oak Glen Road at the first traffic light. Follow Oak Glen Road for approximately 11 miles to Los Rios Rancho. Turn right at the red apple-shaped sign with the yellow arrow pointing to the entrance. The address for the Oak Glen Preserve is 39611 Oak Glen Road, Oak Glen, CA 92399. For a map of the area click Here. One of the great things about visiting here is there is no cost for parking!

Description of Hike: The hiking trails at the Oak Glen Preserve are well maintained and very popular. The hike we did is a loop hike through mostly single track trail, however at times the trail is quite wide, and there is a beautiful boardwalk section of the hike. Begin the hike at the Ranger Station and head downhill through the apple orchards. Follow the trail through Oak Knoll Park, which is a great place for a picnic. After the Oak Knoll Park, the hiking trail at the Oak Glen Preserve becomes more single tracked. You will come to another smaller picnic area, where we saw a rattlesnake, and then will continue on to the Reflection Pond. At this point you have the choice to take the Chaparral Loop (an additional .15 miles which is designated in Yellow on the Google map below) or continue on the Stream Trail. You will arrive at the boardwalk and will want to take the scenic board walk portion of this hike, where the views of the San Bernardino Mountains and the San Bernardino National Forest are spectacular. At this point you can follow the trail back to the right and intersect with the main trail which will take you back to the parking area. Or you can add on additional length and visit the Duck Ponds (.6 miles) and do the California Tree Trail (.1 miles) which we would highly recommend. Our hike included the loop, a visit to the Duck Ponds, and the California Tree Trail which was just under 2 miles roundtrip and roughly 260 feet of elevation gain.

Further Thoughts: Ashley and I really enjoyed our visit to The Wildlands Conservancy's Oak Glen Preserve. This is a popular location in the fall as the apples are in season and is when many people come to pick apples at Los Rios Rancho. We were very happy to see all the people out enjoying the trails and outdoors in this area.  The hiking trails at the Oak Glen Preserve are beautiful as they are in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains. Make sure to get a chance to explore some of the shops at Los Rios Rancho and sample some of the food after your hike as the barbecue is pretty good. We picked our pumpkin for Halloween after our hike and picked a bushel of apples. The fall is the best time to visit this area so you can get a chance to pick apples, however anytime of year is good as there is plenty of shade along most of the trails. If you come during the winter, due to the elevation, there is the possibility of snow so make sure to check the weather forecast and come prepared

The Wildlands Conservancy's administrative headquarters is at the Oak Glen Preserve. The Oak Glen Preserve is situated roughly at 5,000 feet in elevation. The Oak Glen Preserve is adjacent to the steep escarpments of Yucaipa Ridge in the San Bernardino National Forest. The 2,169 acre preserve includes prominent peaks the Wildlands Conservancy has purchased to prevent exploitation of private lands within the National Forest and to promote the expansion of the San Gorgonio Wilderness. These peaks include Wilshire Peak (8,707 feet) and Galena Peak (9,324 feet), an important lambing ground for bighorn sheep. Habitats encountered on the main trail include ponds, streams, wetlands, oak and pine forests, chaparral, and willow woodland. Make sure to make a donation when you visit the Oak Glen Preserve to support preservation of our local lands for future generations.

If you are looking for more adventure there is even the opportunity to explore the Oak Glen Preserve at night.  You can join a TWC naturalist on a themed walk and talk on the Oak Glen Preserve trails. A different theme is presented monthly and night hikes are held the third Saturday of the month April through December. Hikes take place from 5 pm – 7 pm November and December and are open to everyone ages 8 and up. To find out more information about the dates and exact times for upcoming night hikes click Here.

One of the neat things about this hike is the California Tree Trail which is indicated in green on the Google Map below.  This short trail allows you to walk beneath towering giant sequoia trees. Additionally, the hike to the two ponds is definitely worth the visit due to the scenery and the chance to see some pretty large catfish that inhabit the waters.

Rating: Elevation Gain: 260 ft. (Easy), Distance: 2 Miles Roundtrip (Easy).

Time to Complete Hike: 3 - 4.5 hours.


View Oak Glen Preserve (The Wildlands Conservancy) 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.