Market Pl and Portola Pkwy, Irvine, CA
OK GOT-OCers, here will be our first of many hikes this year as long as weather cooperates. Many of you have made resolutions for this year to get healthier, get out, and do things you don't normally do. This is a great chance to make good on that. We did this beautifully scenic hike once last year, and I think it will be a great (and not too difficult) hike to kick off our year.
Highlights: Red rock formation, shady oak woods, wildflowers, trailhead obelisk, family hike Near: Foothill Ranch, CA Scenery: Distance: 3.2 miles Elevation Gain: 385 feet Hike Time: 2 hours Difficulty: Easy Trail Condition: OK, but a few difficult spots. Hike Type: Out and Back
Summary: A stunning obelisk dedicated to the native wildlife -- both living and extinct -- marks the beginning of this easy family hike that begins next to a shopping center. Though pressed in by recent subdivisions on two sides for the first three quarters of a mile, the feel is wilderness. Steep sandstone cliffs on either side widely separate condos from canyon. The hammering of acorn woodpeckers drown out city sounds. Gigantic live oaks hold up the sky and taller sycamores pierce it.
A footbridge shooting off the main trail on the left leads to the Red Rock trail, a scrubby bottomland. Sometimes the trail and the creek bed share space. You wind through narrowing arroyos to the modestly majestic Red Rock cliffs -- a favorite among local family hikers.
Dangers include direct sunlight along the Red Rock Trail, rattlesnakes, hives of wild bees in ancient oaks, poison oak, and mountain lions. (Lance's note - Mountain lions have been spotted and reported in the area a handful times over the last year. As a group we should not have a problem if we exercise common sense. This is typical anytime we encroach into their area, as many trails do. On the other hand, I'm sure when mountain lions get together they talk about reported sightings of the GOT OC hiking crew. If they check our event calendar, they know where not to be each Sunday)
Trailhead: From Interstate 5: Take Bake Parkway northeast towards the mountains. Continue 5 1/2 miles to Portola. At Portola, turn left. Proceed to Market and turn right and then left into the Whiting Ranch Wilderness parking lot.
The parking area is located across from the Ralphs supermarket at Portola and Market. Parking is $3 at the trail parking lot, and probably less if you park across the street in the shopping center.
This hike will be roughly 3 1/4 miles, with some moderate areas along the way. We will go up the Borrego trail and at the top we will cut off and hike into the Red Rock area, which is beautiful and great for photos. We will come back the way we came, possibly taking a few detours depending on how everyone feels.
This is a wilderness park, so pets are not allowed. Deer sightings are not unusual at all, and squirrels, rabbits, and other wildlife are also often seen.
Here is a link to the trails maps
As usual, bring water, sun protection, and a hat if needed. Supposedly not a lot of shade along these trails.
Get Out There, Orange County. Let's explore another area we drive past all the time.