Friday, September 4, 2009

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Full Moon Hike (Laurel Canyon)

This weekend Ashley and I were able to do the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park's Full Moon Hike in laurel canyon. This is a hike that you need to sign up for in advance and it is only offered once a month by the Laguna Canyon Foundation. It is lead by several rangers and is definitely a fun time. To view the schedule of the events to see when the next one is scheduled, click Here.

Directions to Trailhead: Laurel Canyon is located in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. Coming from the I-5 exit El Toro Road going towards Laguna Beach. Follow El Toro Road until it dead end into Laguna Canyon Road. Make a left onto Laguna Canyon Road. The trailhead to Hike Laurel Canyon is on the right side about a quarter of a mile from that intersection. A map of the area is Here and the trailhead is indicated by the W/L on the map.

Description of Hike: The hike going up Laurel Canyon and back down Willow Canyon is a 3.5 mile loop. The approximate elevation change is 700 ft. The trail is well maintained and there are always lots of people on the trail during the weekend. Remember to bring 3 dollars for parking (The current cost for the Full Moon Hike is 5 dollars per person). The trail takes you through an amazing section of the South Coast Wilderness. When in Laurel Canyon, you truly feel like you are miles away from civilization. As always you have a chance at seeing wildlife on this hike in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. For the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park brochure, click Here. For a hiking trail map for the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, click Here.

Further Thoughts: This was a great Orange County Day Hike. It was very neat to be in the Laguna Coast Wilderness and watch day turn into night. The park is normally closed sunset - sunrise, but once a month the people at OC Parks and the South Coast Wilderness put on full moon hikes for the public. The rangers and volunteers that lead our hike were very helpful, friendly, and informative. It was also great to meet and talk with fellow Orange County hikers. While on the hike in Laurel Canyon we learned about native wildlife and plants that inhabit the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. It was exciting to see and learn about edible plants while on this hike.

We learned about the Lemonadeberry plant (Rhus integrifolia sumac family). It is an Evergreen, aromatic shrub that has small, pinkish white flowers in compact clusters on stem ends. It blooms usually from February to April with reddish Berries. The berries are sticky and have a lemony taste! Native Americans used to use their berries as a thirst quencher. For more information click Here.

We also got a lesson on California Buckwheat (Erigonum fasciculatum). This is a small dense shrub which is highly characteristic of coastal sage scrub habitat and chaparral. It has many small, narrow leaves along the stems and dense pinkish white flower clusters on the ends of their stems in spring. It is found mostly in drier areas. It is an important food source for bees, native Harvester ants and makes excellent honey. For more information click Here.

This is a great hike to do while having the aide of the full moon. Make sure to bring a flashlight if you are able to sign up. It is a great hike, especially going up Laurel Canyon. You truly feel like you are in the wilderness while in Laurel Canyon away from the hustle and bustle of Orange County. The views from up top are amazing as well! It is very neat seeing the city lights from deep within the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. Ashley and I would recommend first doing this hike during the daytime so that way you can appreciate the change in scenery during this hike from day into night.

We also learned about a big waterfall in Laurel Canyon, so sometime during the next rainy season we plan on visiting again to see what this water fall in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park looks like with water. Another thing that was neat is that currently the poison oak is changing colors and is absolutely beautiful. This full moon hike in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is not only a must do hike for any Orange County hiker, but is truly a unique opportunity to visit the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park during night.

Rating: Elevation Gain: 700 ft. (Easy), Distance: 3.5 Miles Roundtrip (Easy).

Time to Complete Hike: 1 - 2 hours.


James Dilley Preserve

Laurel Canyon (This Post)

Little Sycamore to Stagecoach South Loop


January 20, 2009 (Laurel Canyon)

September 4, 2009 (Laurel Canyon Full Moon Hike)(This Post)

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