Friday, June 19, 2009

Riley Wilderness Park

Riley Wilderness Park is one of OC Parks gems and offers some of the best hiking in Orange County. This past weekend Ashley and I had a chance to visit Riley Wilderness Park. We went hiking in Riley Wilderness Park toward the evening and we saw a lot of wildlife in the park. Riley Wilderness Park has a lot of wildlife for being so close to suburban Orange County and is a great place to go hiking in Orange County. For more pictures from some of our hikes at Riley Wilderness Park make sure to check out our Facebook Page.

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: Riley Wilderness Park is truly a gem for Orange County hikers. It is perfect for those who have limited time to get out and enjoyed the outdoors. Every time Ashley and I have been there we have seen plenty of wildlife.

While at Riley Wilderness Park we saw two deer and one of the deer had two baby fawns. Unfortunately, we were unable to get our camera out in time to get a good picture of the baby fawns. The scenery that Riley Wilderness Park has to offer is spectacular and will be enjoyed by all. There are great view points along the trails in the Park.

While on the hike in Riley Wilderness Park we saw a tarantula wasp (Located in left picture below), a hawk and a turkey vulture. However the coolest thing we saw was a GREY FOX at Riley Wilderness Park. Both Ashley and I were completely surprised to see a Grey Fox in Orange County. We have a quick video tape of the fox which we will upload to our site. We saw the Fox while it was hunting something in the tall grass located in many places around Riley. The fox saw us and hid from Ashley and I. It had a big bushy tail and was much smaller than a coyote. It was pretty neat to see a grey fox in Orange County's Riley Wilderness Park.

It was very cool seeing a Fox at Riley Wilderness Park. We have no idea how prevalent Foxes are in Orange County but we would assume they are rare to see. In the video the Fox is seen in the very beginning and for a short time period. While at the Park, we also got the chance to see a rattlesnake that someone was releasing at the park because they found it at their house in Coto De Caza. Ashley and I plan on frequenting Riley Wilderness Park much more in the near future.

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

Time to Complete Hike: 1 - 2 hours.


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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.