Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Good Hiking Locations

Orange County Wilderness Parks/Regional Parks

Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park: (4,200 Acres) Approximately 4,200 acres of wilderness and natural open space land. Originally, part of the Juaneno or Acajchemem tribal land, it later was owned by Don Juan Avila, Louis Moulton, The Mission Viejo Company and now is under the jurisdiction of OC Parks. Within the park lands are mature oaks, sycamores, and elderberry trees, two year round streams and over 30 miles of official trails. Many rare and endangered plants and animals make this park their home. This park is designated as a wildlife sanctuary. Aliso And Wood Canyons Wilderness Park 28373 Alicia Parkway Laguna Niguel, CA 92677 (949) 923-2200.

Arroyo Trabuco Regional Park: (935 Acres) The Arroyo Trabuco addition to O'Neill Regional Park is 935 acres of relatively pristine land. Presently maintained as a wilderness preserve, the Arroyo Trabuco is exemplary as a natural area where the rancho days are not far gone and where Golden Eagles, Mule Deer and Mountain Lions still exist. Planned recreational use will be passive, including hiking, nature photography and picnicking. In future years, hiking trails will link the Arroyo Trabuco with upper Trabuco Canyon and the nearby Cleveland National Forest in an effort to save much of the twenty mile Trabuco Corridor for public enjoyment.Arroyo Trabuco 30892 Trabuco Cyn. Rd. Trabuco Canyon, CA 92678 (949)923-2260 or (949) 923-2256.

Caspers Wilderness Park: (8,000 Acres) Caspers Wilderness Park is an 8,000 acre protected wilderness preserve nestled among the river terraces and sandstone canyons of the western coastal Santa Ana Mountains. The park's many fertile valleys are overtly complemented by specimen groves of native Coastal Live Oak and magnificent stands of California Sycamore. These areas are further accentuated by seasonal wildflower displays and running streams. Wildlife is abundant and can be readily viewed from any of the parks numerous trails. Caspers Wilderness Park 33401 Ortega Hwy.( P. O. Box 395) San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675 (949) 923-2210.

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park: (6,800 Acres) Laguna Coast Wilderness Park lies within some of the last remaining coastal canyons in Southern California. The park ecosystem is primarily Coastal Sage Scrub, with Maritime Chaparral, Oak Woodlands, Riparian habitats, and the ONLY natural lakes in Orange County. The park is also enrolled in the Natural Community Conservation Planning program designed to protect various endangered species (California Gnatcatcher, Cactus Wren, Orange-Throated Whiptail) by preserving large tracts of the rapidly diminishing coastal sage ecosystem. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park's 6,500 acres (property is owned by The City of Laguna Beach, The County of Orange, and the California Department of Fish & Game) are part of the South Coast Wilderness area, comprised of Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, Crystal Cove State Park, The City of Irvine Open Space and Irvine Ranch Land Reserve, and Laguna Coast (about 19,000 acres). Laguna Coast Wilderness Park 18751 Laguna Canyon Road Laguna Beach, CA 92651 (949) 923-2235.

Irvine Regional Park: Irvine Regional Park is nestled among a grove of heritage Oak and Sycamore trees. The rolling foothills surrounding the park are filled with a variety of wildlife. Trees, shaded turf areas provide a serene setting for leisure activities. Santiago Creek bisects the park and a pond with stone-work waterfall and foot bridge is located in the center of the park. The variety of landscape greatly enhances the park's beauty. 1 Irvine Park Road Orange, CA 92869 (714) 973-6835 or (714 ) 973-3173.

O'Neill Regional Park: O'Neill Regional Park is situated in beautiful Trabuco and Live Oak Canyons. The park is heavily wooded with coast live oak and sycamore trees. The hillsides surrounding the park are filled with cactus, wild buckwheat, sagebrush and chaparral of scrub oak, buckthorn and mountain mahogany. Trabuco and Hicky Creeks also meander through the park, flowing in winter and early spring, dry in summer and fall.O'Neill Regional Park 30892 Trabuco Canyon Road Trabuco Canyon, CA 92678 (949) 923-2260 or (949)923-2256.

Peters Canyon Regional Park: Regional Park offers a unique blend of native habitat and man's influence on the land. The park encompasses 354 acres of coastal sage scrub, riparian, freshwater marsh and grassland habitats. The 55 acre Upper Peters Canyon Reservoir is home to many resident and migrating waterfowl. Willows, sycamores and black cottonwoods line the lake and Peters Canyon Creek which meanders through the canyon. The park offers a variety of graded roads and trails providing opportunities for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. The East Ridge View Trail provides a panoramic view of Peters Canyon and the surrounding area. Visitors can enjoy the beauty of Upper Peters Canyon reservoir while traversing the Lake View Trail. Peters Canyon Creek Nature Trail guides hikers through lush groves of willows and rare black cottonwoods supported by a running creek. Visitors will encounter the park's grassland, coastal sage scrub and riparian habitats as well as eucalyptus groves on the Lower Canyon Trail.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. Peters Canyon Regional Park 8548 E. Canyon View Ave. Orange, CA 92869 (714) 973-6611 or (714) 973-6612.

Riley Wilderness Park: (475 Acres) As a wildlife sanctuary, Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park is home to an abundant number of native plants and animal life. Old groves of Western Sycamores and Coast Live Oaks border the park's two seasonally flowing creeks. The remaining land features rolling hills and canyons of Coastal Sage Scrub and grasslands.Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park 30952 Oso Parkway Coto De Caza, CA 92679 (949) 923-2265 or (949) 923-2266.

Santiago Oaks Regional Park: On March 11, 2007, a vegetation fire started near the Windy Ridge Toll Plaza of the 241 Toll Road. Fueled by heavy winds and dry vegetation, the fire spread in a southwesterly direction, burning 2,036 acres. Nearly 90 percent of Santiago Oaks Regional Park was affected by the fire. However, the land is not dead! The Park Rangers, their staff and park volunteers have worked hard to protect the park’s fragile landscape. Most of the park’s trails have been re-opened with some areas currently being revegetated and/or assessed for future public use. WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP! Respect the wilderness.Please stay out of burned areas! Please abide by all park rules & regulations.Please respect the park’s trail signs and report any vandalism to the park office.The fire has left the wilderness in a fragile state. Unauthorized use to closed areas could damage plants that are trying to come back after the fire, as well as further traumatize the park's wildlife.Santiago Oaks Regional Park 2145 N. Windes Drive Orange, CA 92869 (714)973-6620 or (714)973-6622

Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park: (4,300 Acres) Limestone Canyon & Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park encompasses approximately 4,300 acres of riparian and oak woodland canyons, rolling grassland hills and steep slopes of coastal sage scrub and chaparral. The park is highlighted by scenic rock formations, including the beautiful Red Rock Canyon. There are three intermittent streams: Borrego, Serrano and Aliso Creek meandering through the park, each hosting an abundance of wildlife. Remnants of the former cattle ranching days can be seen throughout the park.Though 90% of the park burned in the Santiago Fire of 2007, the land is in the recovery process. Please respect that process by staying on marked trails and following park rules.Limestone/Whiting Ranch Parks P.o. Box 156 Trabuco Canyon, CA 92678 (949) 923-2245.


Chino Hills State Park: Chino Hills State Park is unique in that it provides refuge for both biodiversity and solitude to the visitors who enjoy their outdoor experiences. There is no other location in the LA Basin were people can drive a short distance and be swept away with scenic vistas, hike, bike or ride a horse on over 65 miles of trails. At 14,102 acres the park is managed as an open space habitat where all plant and animal life are protected.

Cystal Cove State Park: Crystal Cove State Park has 3.2 miles of beach and 2,400 acres of undeveloped woodland, which is popular for hiking and horseback riding. The offshore waters are designated as an underwater park. Crystal Cove is used by mountain bikers inland and scuba and skin divers underwater. The beach is popular with swimmers and surfers. Visitors can explore tide-pools and sandy coves.

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park: The beautiful park offers camping and hiking in an oak woodland forest, with a sprinkling of pines and lovely meadows with creeks. There are over 100 miles of trails which accommodate hikers, bikers, and equestrians.

Southern California National Forest's

Angeles National Forest (ANF): To the millions of Los Angeles-area residents and to visitors from all over the world, the Angeles National Forest provides a thousand square miles of open space and a variety of recreation opportunities year-around. The Angeles National Forest was established by Executive Order in December, 1892. It covers over 650,000 acres and is the backyard playground to the huge metropolitan area of Los Angeles. The Angeles National Forest manages the watersheds within its boundaries to provide valuable water to southern California and to protect surrounding communities from catastrophic floods.
The land within the Forest is as diverse in appearance and terrain as it is in the opportunities it provides for enjoyment. Elevations range from 1,200 to 10,064 feet. Much of the Forest is covered with dense chaparral which changes to pine and fir-covered slopes as you reach the majestic peaks of the higher elevations.

Cleveland National Forest (CNF): The Cleveland National Forest is the southern-most National Forest in California. Consisting of 460,000 acres, the forest offers a wide variety of terrains and recreational opportunities. Elevation in the forest ranges from 460ft to 6,271ft. The forest is divided into three sections covering Orange, Riverside, and San Diego Counties. There are 3 districts the Trabuco Ranger District, the Palomar Ranger District, and the Descanso Ranger District.

Los Padres National Forest (LPNF): Los Padres National Forest encompasses nearly two million acres in the beautiful coastal mountains of central California. The forest stretches across almost 220 miles from the Big Sur Coast in Monterey County to the western edge of Los Angeles County.

San Bernadino National Forest (SBNF): The wild lands of the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountain Ranges were designated a National Forest more than a hundred years ago. The Forest Reserve Act was passed in 1891, giving the president authority to "set apart and reserve, in any state or territory having public land bearing forests . . . as public reservations." From this act was born the San Bernardino Forest Reserve, which became the San Bernardino National Forest in 1907. The San Bernardino National Forest as public land was set aside for the conservation of natural resources such as trees, water, minerals, livestock range, recreation, or wildlife. Today, the San Bernardino National Forest serves as southern California's outdoor year-around recreation destination, as well as providing valuable watershed protection. Drive the scenic Rim of the World Scenic Byway and Palms to Pines Scenic Byways to discover your local National Forest.The San Bernardino National Forest is comprised of three Ranger Districts spanning 676,666 acres in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.


  1. From Jim,

    Are dogs on leases allowed on the trails?

  2. I've hiked a great deal in the Mt Baldy area and and have seen several dogs, both on and off leash. I'm a dog lover, so don't have a problem with them, but know that you will see dogs off leash there. It's very rocky and many used booties for their dogs to protect their pads. My advice, bring your dog and enjoy.


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.