Sunday, November 28, 2010

Riley Wilderness Park

The day after Thanksgiving I was able to visit Riley Wilderness Park with a friend of mine. This is always a great park to visit as was evidence by how busy the park was, but this is one of Ashley and I's favorite hiking spots in Orange County. I have personally never seen the park so busy, but it was good to see a lot of Orange County residents out enjoy the trails on the holiday weekend.

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 a gem in Orange County. It is an important wildlife corridor and has areas of opens space around it. Every time we have visited the park we have seen deer, this time we saw 2 deer. That was a low number compared to other trips, but there were a lot of people in the park and others told us they saw more deer than we saw. If you are looking to see deer or wildlife in general, this is a great park to visit.

Riley Wilderness Park has started to turn green again with all the rain we have received recently. It is always amazing how quickly the landscape turns from brown to green after a couple of inches of rain. While we were hiking we also notices some bobcat tracks in the sand. It might be a juvenile mountain lion, but at this point I am leaning towards bobcat tracks. This park is a great hike for those who can only spare a little time to get away and still have the feeling of being out in the wilderness. The Park also has a non-profit organization that helps educate kid and the community on the importance of wilderness open space preserves. This is a great park to visit and hike for the whole family.

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

Time to Complete Hike: 1 - 2 hours.


August 6, 2010

November 28, 2010 (This Post)

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.