Was your New Year Resolution to spend more time with your family? How about to get more exercise? Maybe you want to get out of the house and see more of Orange County? Here are 5 easy hikes to accomplish all 3 goals:
San Juan Capistrano: El Cariso Nature Trail, a self guided loop trail, is a 1.5 miles with an elevation gain of only 100 feet. It begins at the Forest Service Station at El Cariso off the Ortega Highway.
“From the parking lot, head up the stairs and begin your climb on the self-guided nature trail. Interpretive signs will describe the plant and tree life you are seeing, which include Manzanitas, Coulter pines and more. As you climb, you get nice, wide-ranging views of the Los Pinos complex to the north, Decker Canyon to the south and the southern Santa Anas into San Diego County in the east. Over your shoulder, you can see San Gorgoino Mountain on clear days.” http://nobodyhikesinla.com/tag/el-cariso-nature-trail/
Lake Forest: Borrego Canyon to Red Rock Canyon, a four mile hike with an elevation gain of 500 feet. It begins at the Borrego Canyon trailhead (Whiting Ranch) off Portola Parkway in Foothill Ranch.
“Borrego Canyon Trail is a dirt path lined on both sides by housing tracts on top of steep canyon walls. Despite the nearby homes, the trail feels quite secluded, and is very popular with hikers and mountain bikers (mountain bikers may only ride the trail one-way, into the park). The trail roughly follows a small creek and is dotted with shrub and chaparral, which is broken up by occasional shady groves of like oaks.” http://www.greeneadventures.com/2011/01/30/hiking-whiting-ranch-wilderness-park-borrego-canyon-to-red-rock-canyon/
Trabuco Canyon: Holy Jim Falls Trail is a 2.8 mile roundtrip with a 625 foot elevation gain. It requires a drive back into Holy Jim Canyon to access it.
“Heavy winter rains are essential to a pleasant journey. Along the way, you will see many small cascades and cross the stream several times before you reach the split where the main trail ascends to the Main Divide Road to the left and the trail to the waterfall shoots off to the right. Watch for poison oak as you scramble over the last quarter of a mile to the twenty foot falls.” http://www.localhikes.com/Hikes/HolyJimFalls_4472.asp
Orange: Peters Canyon Lake Loop, a 2.5 easy loop trail with an elevation gain of 250 feet. It is part of Peters Canyon Regional Park.
“This trail circles the 55-acre Upper Peters Canyon Reservoir, which provides valuable habitat to migrating waterfowl. The rolling terrain takes you from marsh edge to open hillsides looking east over the lake toward the crest of the northern Santa Ana Mountains.” http://www.trails.com/tcatalog_trail.aspx?trailid=XFA020-011
Newport Beach: North Shore Trail Upper Newport Bay, is a 3.12 mile round trip with an elevation gain of only 50 feet. There is a parking area on University Drive near the interpretive center.
“Pickleweed and eel grass fill the low flats. Willows, sycamores, and invasive Brazillian Pepper (do not touch!) cover the ground between the dry coastal sage habitat (distinguished by its grasses, buckwheat, and, in some places, cholla cactus) and the salt marsh. Bring binoculars or spotting scopes for a good look at the rare California least tern, skimmers, Great Blue Herons, white pelicans, snowy egrets, and savannah sparrows.” http://www.localhikes.com/Hikes/IrvineCoast_4472.asp
And for other great family outings be sure to check out the Beaches and Parks Link on the home page of this Orange County Resource Guide.