Sunday, March 21, 2010

Riley Wilderness Park (Green after Rains)

Riley Wilderness Park is one of OC Parks gems and offers some of the best hiking in Orange County. This weekend, Ashley and I had the chance to get out and visit Riley Wilderness Park. This is one of our favorite parks to visit. The park has come alive after all the rain we have received this season. The hills are green and the wildflowers are in bloom. A good time to visit Riley Wilderness Park is in the Spring after a good rainy season in Southern California.

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: It was absolutely great to get out and enjoy the wonderful weather we have been having lately. Riley Wilderness Park has totally changed after all the rain we have got this season in Southern California. Hopefully we get one more storm before spring really gets here.

For the first time since Ashley and I have been going to Riley Wilderness Park, the pond had water in it. It was amazing to see what it looked like with water and we could tell that there had been a lot more water in there. I would imagine the water will still be there for another month.

Riley Wilderness Park has had a bumper crop of Woolly Bear caterpillars this year. We saw many of these caterpillars while out on the trail. They will all turn into Tiger moths soon. We also located a bee hive while we were hiking in the park. We saw 3 deer, several hawks, and several turkey vultures. This is a great park to view wildlife.

Since we went on the weekend, we visited the nature center since it was open. If you are there while on the weekend a trip to the nature center is a great idea.

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

Time to Complete Hike: 1 - 2 hours.


March 21, 2010 (This Post)

August 6, 2010

November 28, 2010

August 7, 2011

View Riley Wilderness Park Hike 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.