Dan will be doing a Mt. Whitney hike, so in preparation, I did some research into local spots to hike. Here are some of my findings (oh, and a few non-hiking things as well).
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park lies within some of the last remaining coastal canyons in Southern California. The park’s 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 Gnat catcher, 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 18,000 acres).
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
18751 Laguna Canyon Road
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Aliso Beach is bordered by a wildlife refuge. You can have a bonfire. And best of all, it’s accessible; you don’t have to walk down 900 steps to get there.
31131 S. Pacific Coast Highway, Laguna Beach; (949) 923-2280, www.ocparks.com.
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.
Limestone/Whiting Ranch Parks
Trabuco Canyon, CA 92678
The San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary is free to the public and is open from dawn until dusk, seven days a week. This amazing destination is a picture perfect place to visit. Take a walk and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. There are plenty of benches to relax on or see if you can spot some of the more than 200 bird species that have been sighted in the reserve. The marsh is located within a ten-minute walk from UC Irvine and just off the bike trail that leads to Newport Bay. No bikes are allowed in the reserve so park them at the Audubon house and head out on foot. The reserve is one of Southern California’s hidden treasures. Located adjacent to the UC Irvine campus upstream from Upper Newport Bay
5 Riparian View, Irvine CA 92616
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 tidepools and sandy coves.
The park is located off Pacific Coast Highway between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach, California with easy access from I-5, 405 and 73.
Parking fees: One Day Pass (good anywhere in the park-$10 Annual Pass (Good at most California State Parks) $125
Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park has over 4,200 acres of scenic canyons and 137 species of migratory and resident birds. Aliso creek supports small populations of fish and other aquatic life. The park’s natural features are rich in human history. Dripping cave is also known as “Robbers cave”. The park served as a sheep and cattle ranch at one time. No water is available at the park be sure to bring plenty. Park hours are 7 am to sunset.
28373 Alicia Parkway Laguna Niguel, CA 92677 (949)923-2200
Muzeo in Anaheim, is Southern California’s newest museum. Formally the Anaheim museum and now expanded with a new modern building. The 25,000 square foot MUZEO complex includes Anaheim’s original Carnegie Library (built in 1908). The new exhibition building has over 5,000 square feet of main gallery plus a small theater and a community reading room.
241 S Anaheim Boulevard, Anaheim, CA 92805
Hours: 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. 7 days a week
The Great Park of Orange County California
Directions: exit the 5 freeway at Sand Canyon and enter the old El Toro base on Marine Way & follow the signs to the Great Balloon. Every passenger must sign a liability waiver. Boarding passes are issued on a first come – first serve basis. Flights may be delayed or cancelled due to weather conditions. Call ahead before you go and make sure the balloon ride is open the day you plan on visiting. (866) 829-3829
As a wildlife sanctuary, Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park is home to an abundant number of native s 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 Park30952 Oso Parkway
Coto De Caza, CA 92679
Talbert Nature Preserve is located North and South of Victoria Street in Costa Mesa between Pacific Avenue and the Santa Ana River. The North Talbert Preserve consists of 91.5 acres and the South Talbert Preserve is approximately 88.5 acres.
The park is divided into six separate plant groups, identified as “zones” and based upon the progression of plant groups and changing conditions found along the Santa Ana River. The first zone is designated “Intensive Use Area” and the plant material has been selected based on use instead of its origins on the site. The second zone, a “Border Planting” zone is planted with vegetation designed to maintain boundaries and screen the embankment of the Greenville-Banning Channel. Another zone, the “Coastal Strand” consists of gentle slopes and dunes, a habitat largely destroyed by the advance of civilization in the area. The “Native Grassland” zone is the largest zone in the park and provides opportunities for wildlife habitats. An “Alluvial Woodland” zone contains a wide variety of plant and animal life and is the most secluded area in the park. Finally, the “Wetland Zone” consists of the southern 14.8 acres of the park and contains elements of riparian woodland and mulefat scrub.Talbert Nature Preserve1298 Victoria Avenue
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace.
18001 Yorba Linda blvd
Yorba Linda CA 92886
Upper Newport Bay is a place where fresh and salt water meet and mix. It is one of only a few remaining estuaries in Southern California and is the home of nearly 200 species of birds. Hiking and biking are both popular activities. A paved road runs along the West side of the bay and has several parking areas for cars. Kayak tours are available from the Newport Dunes Resort located on Back Bay Drive at PCH. The perfect place to hike, cycle, canoe, kayak, fish or sit back and enjoy the view. The Back Bay Loop is one of Southern California’s best places to run, hike or ride your bike. While at the back bay be sure to visit the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center located at 2301 University Drive. The center provides a series of exhibits and interactive displays. Admission is free but a small donation is appreciated.
2301 University Dr.
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Kayak tours leave from the Newport Dunes Resort located on Back Bay Drive at PCH, and the Newport Aquatic Center at North Star Beach on the other side of the Back Bay. For motor vehicles, Back Bay Drive is a one-way street from the Shellmaker end. The Reserve was dedicated in 1975 with the following words, “In the name of the people of the State of California”.
Carbon Canyon Regional Park consists of 124 acres. Sixty are developed and of the remaining acreage, a ten acre grove of Coastal Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) has been established. Throughout the developed park are Pepper trees, Sycamores, Eucalyptus and Pines.
Carbon Canyon Regional Park
4442 Carbon Canyon Road
Brea, CA 92823
Mountains To Sea Trail
Starting from Irvine Regional Park in Orange, the Mountain to Sea trail travels south through 4 major OC cities (Orange, Tustin, Irvine and Newport Beach). This 22 mile trail leads straight into Upper Newport Bay.
This trail is populated by walkers, runners, bikers, photographers and bird watchers. Sans street signals, there’s no need to pause your run to wait for the cross signal. Regardless if you head north or south, your senses will thank you. Your eyes will be rewarded by the beautiful scenery. Your nose will be titillated by the fresh air. And your ears will relax by the calming sounds of birds.