Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday Hike Day: Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, Lake Forest

This was a mild, fairly kid friendly hike. There are porta potties and a drinking fountain at the trail head. Parking is $3 and you pay at an electronic kiosk in the small parking lot. 

The park, lot and trailhead are adjacent to a large shopping center. This feels a little like you're visiting a suburban nature center than a wilderness preserve. However, once you get on the trail, you forget you are only a canyon away from a Hobby Lobby. 

We were joined by a new Adventure Mom this time, which was fun. The trail itself is rather dry but we did cross one Creek and the dry beds of what used to be a few others.

This makes for a soft and sandy trail at times, along with small and medium rocks. Definitely NOT stroller friendly but a child in a carrier would be fine. Be sure to use and wear sun protection. The trail does have tree cover that provides a nice canopy of shade in spots with full sun in others. 

We saw this small rabbit hanging out along the trail. She was less timid then most we've met. Kids will enjoy the potential to see animals like this rabbit, lizards and soaring hawks. Be aware, posted signs indicate this is 'mountain lion' territory and it's also rattle snake season! All the wildflowers are attracting plenty of bees and you may be serenaded by solcatas singing their mating song with their wings. 

 The trail features native California plants, succulents, cacti, and wildflowers currently in bloom. The variety of plant life combined with the red sandstone rock hills, offers a nice array of colors that is aesthetically pleasing to the senses.

Along the trail are posted signs leading to other trails among the wilderness park. It is advisable to check maps at the trailhead to plan and prepare your route. Our destination was the Red Rock Canyon trail and it did not disappoint.  It ends at a closed off area with red sandstone rock formations beyond the fence and sign posts. They are a real beauty.

We passed at least one bench with another map, trash cans (please use them!) and a couple picnic tables along the trail. 

The starting trail is frequented by mountain bikers and they can come up quickly. It's a good idea to prepare younger children for this ahead of time. Teach them to quickly move to a pre-designated side of the trail when given the 'signal' or predetermined word. This is faster and more useful then having to quickly explain where, why and how they should move out of the way.

For us, this was a mild hike, low on the adventure scale but still fun and very enjoyable to everyone. 

See you next week! 

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