Go Out Hiking on Memorial Day just like Dr. Fauci!




The nation’s leader in these turbulent times, Dr. Anthony Fauci, had a splendid idea for Memorial Day:  he is going to go out HIKING – with a mask – and I think we should do that here in the OC too.  But where to go?  I asked a buncha my nature-hikey type friends.  I didn’t realize I had so many.

As far as a mask though?  I think I would keep one handy, around my ears.  You only really need to wear it if someone gets within ten feet of you, but smelling nature and the fresh air is the best part of hiking, don’t you think?

Peter’s Canyon, Santiago Oaks Regional Park (Orange)

Jesus Aguirre Sr. at Peter’s Canyon

Our good friend Jesus Aguirre Senior went hiking the other day on his birthday, at Peter’s Canyon.  And as Jesus attests, “Hiking is healthy, healthy is live, live is enjoy!”   The website hikingguy.com, which we’re going to make plenty use of in this quick piece, describes the Peter’s Canyon hike as moderate in difficulty and six miles long.

Pic by Lourdes Trinidad

Just get your butt to 8548 East Canyon View Ave, in Orange – down Chapman not too far east from the 55.  Hiking guy says, “This hike through Peters Canyon Regional Park is one of the most popular hikes in Orange County for a good reason.

“The hike has everything: well-maintained trails, climbs and flats, panoramic views, and wildlife spotting opportunities. This Peters Canyon hike takes you on a very-doable 2:30 hour loop of the park. Lots of side trails offer opportunities to make it shorter if you’d like.”

Peters Canyon.

Crystal Cove, Corona del Mar / Laguna Beach

Grandpa John and the kids.

You know whose favorite hike Crystal Cove is?  Our contributing investigative journalist, Surf City Voice‘s John Earl, the terror of Poseidon and corrupt water officials.  In fact John has detailed advice for your Crystal Cove hike:  

“I hike a lot in the Crystal Cove area in the hills on the other side of PCH. I start at the top of the hill so as not to have to pay the fifteen bucks. Park at Ridge Park. Then if mixes in with Laguna Canyon. You can do some pretty rugged trail biking there too. I used to jog up and down the very steep hills starting from the bottom to the top then down again, a 7 mile jog, before I got injured.”

Pic by Mitra Khoshbin

Of course John is talking about the OTHER side of PCH, but most folks probably want to be on the ocean side.  Again, Hiking Guy calls this a “moderate” hike in difficulty, and 9 miles long.  HG further rhapsodizes, “This “best of” Crystal Cove hike takes you on a loop trail offering pristine coastal nature, ocean views, and well marked trails.

“You’ll take in the endangered native coastal sage scrub plant wilderness, which is how the area looked before it was developed, and then hike to heights where you’ll be able to see from the San Gabriel Mountains to Catalina. This hike is one of my favorites.”  HG recommends you park at 8471 North Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach – if you’re not a rebel like John Earl.

Let’s do some more around the County, starting with the ones “Hiking Guy” calls “easy” – because a lot of you blog readers might not be used to this.  First we have…

The Quail Hill Trail in Irvine!

“Quail Hill Trail is a 2-mile loop hike that offers expansive views goes through the Irvine Open Space Preserve, designated a Natural Landmark by both the State of California and the U.S. Department of the Interior.  The family and beginner-friendly hike goes along the easy to follow Quail Hill Loop Trail, offers parking and bathrooms, interpretive displays, and wildlife viewing opportunities, all within minutes of suburban Irvine, CA.” 

I see that a lot of our South County friends and enemies go there to hike when they need to relax.  Just get yourself to Quail Hill Trailhead, 34 Shady Canyon in Irvine, right off the 405 and the Sandy/Shady Canyon exit!

Quail Hill in south Irvine.

Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve

This is categorized as a 3-mile “easy” hike, down by where a lot of OC’s richest people live – start out at 2301 University Drive, Newport Beach.

HG says:  “Nestled in the community of Newport Beach, the Bluff and Bay Trail Loop in Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve offers great views of Upper Newport Bay and world-class wildlife spotting. The Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve is home to some 200 bird species, including some endangered species, making it a top bird watching destination in the USA.  This guide has an easy and fun loop hike that takes you on trails down along the shore of Upper Newport Bay, then back along the bluffs overlooking the bay that offer great views.”

Pictures by my son Dorian!

Whiting Ranch / Red Rock Canyon, Foothill Ranch

A 4.2 mile easy hike.  Where’s Foothill Ranch?  A little inland from Lake Forest, a little northwest of Rancho Santa Margarita.  (Two OTHER towns that didn’t exist when I was a teenager!)  Just get to 28701 Portola Parkway, Foothill Ranch.

HG says:  “There’s a few Whiting Ranch hiking options, but Red Rock Canyon is the most popular for a good reason. The gently climbing trail makes it way up a oak woodland canyon, eventually ending in a smooth red rock canyon like you’d see in Arizona (but unique to Orange County). Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is rich with wildlife. I often see squirrels and lizards, and less often deer. The hike is mellow, easy, and is great for families…

There be Mule Deer at Red Rock Canyon!

“Unfortunately, Whiting Ranch has been the location of some mountain lion attacks in recent history, mainly because of the abundance of mule deer, and you’ll see lots of warning signs at the trailhead. I realize it’s scary, but your chances of being attacked are incredibly miniscule. For peace of mind, you can bring bear spray, which also works on mountain lions (and humans). Please don’t let a fear of mountain lions stop you from doing the Red Rocks Canyon hike.

“Sunset is a great time to do this hike. When the sun is low, it hits the exposed sandstone red rocks and fills them with even more color.If you don’t hike it at sunset, come here as early as you can. This hike is popular and gets crowded.”

The Red Rock Canyon Trail. See the red rocks?

Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, HB

Picture from Bolsa Chica Land Trust, the group that’s not the fake one.

It’s taken work every year, for decades, to preserve this whole area from greedy Surf City developers, but we still have this:  “With great opportunities for wildlife spotting, this easy Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve hike takes you on a scenic loop through the 1,300+ acres of protected wetlands just minutes from the Huntington Beach. The scenery includes seabird nesting islands, fresh and saltwater marsh, mudflats, active riparian river banks, and water. Over 200 species of birds have been spotted here, and it’s a popular stopover on bird migration routes. The hike is great for families with opportunities to shorten the route if 4.5 miles is too long.”

On the other hand, HB’s John Earl muses, “Oh, don’t forget Bolsa Chica wetlands, but I’ll bet tons of people will be there. In fact, I wouldn’t go hiking anywhere on Memorial Day because probably there will be too many people and many won’t be using their heads.  So, just tell everyone, fuck it and stay home.”

Bolsa Chica – most likely filled with numb-nuts today.

More tips from John Earl: “But there are lots of places I would love to go in OC that I haven’t been too, like in the Saddleback or Santa Ana Mountains. There’s a guy called Joel Robinson, who takes people on nature hikes in OC and is an expert on plants, environment, etc.” 

[Here’s Joel Robinson to the left. He has a whole group of people in a service called “Naturalist 4 you.”  I heard him give a real inspiring talk a few years ago at the Centro Cultural in Santa Ana, on the history, topography and science of OC’s natural world, that made me really want to go up hiking in Saddleback, but then.. something happened.  ]  

John again: “I also want to go farther up into the hills about Claremont. You go up to the top of Mountain Ave, turn right to the end of the Cul de Sac and park on the street. You can hike or bike, theoretically, all the way to the top of Mt. Baldy from there. I’ve only gone a short distance so far just to check in out. There are mountain lions there and probably bears too…

The Earl of Asian Food.

“You can always bike up the Santa Ana river trail, all the way to SB or Riverside I guess. I got mugged there once between Edinger and McFadden streets, so you have to be careful, go with others, 5 people a month on average get robbed there in that section. 

“Fairview and Talbert Park area is a great place for a quick hike.  They’ve recreated the wetlands there and did a wonderful job, lots of ponds, creeks, etc. Coyotes are frequently seen, heard howling as the sun goes down, birds sing in the wetlands part like a symphony, lots of hawks, buzzards, snakes, rabbits and squirrels.”  

Well, back to the Hiking Guy, who never gets mugged or injured, and likes EVERYBODY:

Black Star Canyon, Silverado

Black Star photo by Manny Gomez.

Now we’re at “moderately difficult” hikes, and Black Star one is about 7 miles long.  Where’s Silverado?  Way straight east of Santa Ana and Garden Grove, way inland from Irvine and Lake Forest, off the 241.  Remember when Irvine and the other South County cities proposed sticking all their homeless people there, and Judge Carter laughed them out of court?  That’s where.

“Hiking the Black Star Canyon trail is a local favorite for a reason. The trail follows Black Star Creek to Black Star Canyon Falls, and there’s a haunted history to ponder as you hike through this beautiful part of Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park. Hiking on the Black Star Canyon Trail can be a challenge, especially when it’s wet. This guide has everything you need to navigate the hike safely and get to the falls.”  And look:

BLACK STAR. Why’s it called that? I don’t know.

Well, as I started looking at some more exciting hikes up in that area, I discovered that some of them are still temporarily CLOSED because of the huge fires of a couple years ago.  We’ll see, now I’ll have to let you know when they open up again.  But meanwhile last night I got a hold of free spirit / environmental activist / poet / musician Joey Racano, and he says:

“Go to Ortega Highway (74) take the 74 east up into the hills above Elsinore- thats the place to go  Take 5 south to the 74 east through mission viejo  ok then take jamboree all the way to the end   but be out of there by dark- the animals come swooping in..”



CLOSED cuzza fires 🙁

Bedford Peak Trail, also Silverado

This is also a 7-mile hike in Silverado, but Hiking Guy says it’s “HARD!”  Think you can handle it?  I see that our good friend Jane Rands hiked up there a few years ago for her friend’s birthday, and “it was so clear we could see the three peaks AND Catalina.”

There are detailed instructions for getting there on Hiking Guy… except you know what, I just called them and they’re CLOSED indefinitely because of fires.  Just like Holy Jim…  Shit, now I really want to go.

View of Mt St Antonio, popularly called “Mt Baldy” from Bedford Peak. Maybe next year people can go there again.

Holy Jim Falls Trail, Corona, which ain’t so far!

But WHOOPS it’s closed for another year (2-3 years as of 2018) because of the huge FIRE two years ago!  Too bad, because look:

We’ll let you know when Holy Jim and Bedford Peak open again,

because now WE wanna go there!

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.