Laurel Canyon Trail, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

Activity: Day Hike

Date: April 2, 2019

About 3.5 miles, (I added an extra mile making it 4.5 miles), 3 hours in duration, over 600′ elevation change, rated Moderate

This was a very enjoyable hike through the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. The tail head has a cost of $3 for parking. Right as you start the hike there is a cool little cave alcove you can go into. The hike is rated moderate I suppose because it goes up at a steady pace on a fire road. At the top of the Willow Trail is a number of different trails that you can explore. I was going at a quicker pace than my friend Adam, so I added on a mile and took one of the other trails until I got a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean. I then rejoined my friend and we took the Laurel Spur to Laurel Canyon Trail. I loved Laurel Canyon Trail. That trail is what a good local hike should be. It has some Oak Groves, rock formations, a legit trail instead of a fire road, a lot of green vegetation from our winter rain, and a rocky cliff canyon, which immediately after a heavy rain forms a waterfall. But no waterfall for our hike. I recommend this hike. It is a great local hike.

I love how green everything is after the rain that we had a few weeks ago.

California Wild Poppies

This map shows that there are a lot of trails to explore. It also let me know that Laguna Coast Wilderness Park was adjacent to and does connect to the Newport Coast hiking and mt biking area that I frequent. A little more to the South is Laguna Woods another great area which ends at Top of the World in Laguna.

In the distance you can see the Pacific Ocean.

Here we are on the Laurel Canyon Trail portion of this hike. I really enjoyed to shade and the beautiful oak trees.

More wildflowers

This was a little canyon area and we stood on a cliff, that right after a heavy rain can form a waterfall.

Here is my friend Adam enjoying Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. If you see him on the trail, run, he stops and talks everyone’s ear off, lol.

This cute little girl and her mother were enjoying a little rest in a hollowed out rock which looked like a giant egg shell.

I am Roger Jenkins and this is Pursuing Balance Through Adventure. I hope you enjoyed this journey to Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. You really need to get out and speak to nature and Laurel Canyon Trail is a great place to do just that. If you like this posting please press like, and why not follow my blog? Happy Trails!

Chiquito/San Juan Loop Trail

Chiquito Falls, Cleveland National Forest

Activity: Day Hike

Date: March 26th, 2019

Over 2 miles, over an hour in duration, 314′ elevation change, rated Moderate

I have seen this trail referred to as Chiquito Loop Trail and also San Juan Loop Trail. I think that the later is probably correct as that is what it said at the trail head. This is a nice little hike close to Lake Elsinore.  I don’t think of it as moderate it seemed fairly easy to me. It has a proper trail with dirt, and rocks, and roots, and everything that one looks for in a trail. It meanders through oak groves, along a stream, through bush, and has scenic views of the Cleveland National Forest hills.

But what I wanted to see was the Chiquito Falls, but the trail is above the falls and there are a couple views of the falls, some of it is more of a peek-a-boo view because of the heavy brush in the area. What I should have done is taken a couple of off shoot little trails that worked it’s way down to the falls, but not being on this trail before I kept thinking there was a better trail and way to the falls ahead, and also I thought that the falls I was looking at might not really be the Chiquito Falls.

However, I still enjoyed the hike, most of it was near water. You could hear it most of the hike, but much of the hike you couldn’t see it because of the heavy brush.

Love the icon Smokey the Bear. “Only you can prevent forest fires.”

I hope you enjoyed Pursuing Balance Through Adventure. Don’t forget to leave a comment, and to like and follow this blog. “Being on vacation everyday is a lot of work.” -Roger Jenkins

Ortega Falls

 

Lake Elsinore Area

Activity: Day Hike

Date: March 26th, 2019

1/3 mile, less than an hour in duration, approximately 50′ elevation change, rated Easy

Ortega Falls is in the hills above Lake Elsinore and is part of the Cleveland National Forest. It is just a short walk from the 74 Ortega Highway and you will need an Adventure Pass to park, (so I found out the hard way).

Ortega Falls is a seasonal waterfall so you will not always get to see the cascading water as it tumbles over the rocks. With the rains we have had this winter it was showtime for us and it was spectacular. Ortega Falls is made up of two waterfalls with the second just a little downstream from the first.

Speaking of showtime we had some tight-rope walkers that were doing their thing over the falls. How cool is that? A great water display as well as a circus act!

I will say as I have explored some falls in So Cal there is some tagging and I have tried to take my pics in such a way that it didn’t show them. But it is disappointing to see. I can’t believe people like that are even out in nature.

Sitting at the Ortega Waterfalls.

My Hiking App said the elevation change was only 16’. I would say it is about 50’ especially if you want to get down to the water. It is just a short distance so the falls are very accessible.

 

 

Sky-Walker above the falls. That guy has skills!

First glimpse of the large waterfall!

Peek-a-boo view of the Ortega Falls

Love waterfalls

This shows the second of two falls that make up Ortega Falls.

 


California’s Gold

Chasing the Super Bloom

Walker Canyon Trail, Lake Elsinore, CA

Activity: Day Hike

Date: March 26, 2019

6 miles, 4 hours duration, 700′ elevation change, rated Moderate

Southern California is experiencing a Super Bloom giving us the best conditions in a generation. Just the perfect combination of rain, after an extended drought, the right temperatures, sunshine and lack of damaging winds are gifting us with magic that has only been seen on a Metro Goldwyn Mayer movie set where a young girl and her dog befriend three strange characters while trying to find the way back home.

Speaking of trying to find their way back home, the horrendous crowds this phenomenon has created has place a hard ship on local residents almost in tears as they are stuck in hours of freeway traffic trying to get home. It has really overwhelmed the area as they are getting 100,000 visitors on the weekends.

That being said, I arrived with my friend Adam on a weekday just after daybreak and there were already 100 cars there. But it was a good move as when we left there were miles of cars and throngs of people. I certainly would not want to be there on a weekend.

It was difficult making this blog as I had 100 pictures of poppies, and I knew they all looked similar, but I just couldn’t help it. With each step it seemed to get better, plus as the sun got higher the poppies open up.  That coupled with after we finished the marked trail, you see on the map below, we heard about about an unmarked trail that was even better.   It was only a half mile away so we did that trail as well, and you guess it click click click one pic after another.

I hope this article and the pictures do the event justice as it was really stunning to see this in nature. Even going through the pictures I had a tough time cutting out pictures of the poppies, so I hope that they do not put you to sleep as the Wicked Witch would hope.

This shows Walker Canyon Trail, but I was able to go a little farther than the map shows. Then after finishing this trail we took another one that I could not even find as a posted hiking travel on my hiking app.

The poppies were the predominant flower and the star of the show, but there were numerous other beauties as you will see in some of the pictures.

Long after the poppies are gone Walker Canyon will still be a great place for a hike with it’s rolling hills, and mountains in the background.

As the sun peaked it head above the crest of the hills the poppies slowly started to open. By mid day they were all the way open.

I seriously expected Julie Andrews to come bounding down singing, “The Hills are Alive with the sound of music…”

You can see in this pic that as we finished Walker Canyon Trail it was starting to get a little crazy with people. So glad that we got an early start.

One of my avid readers asked is it really a Super Bloom or does it happen every year? I posed this question to this young botanist/naturalist whom confirmed this was indeed something special and rare. Super Bloom Confirmed! Not just media hype.

That’s just dripping in gold…

There’s Gold in them thar’ hills! Look close that is all flowers.

You can almost hear that Wicked Old Witch ringing her hands. “Poppies, poppies will make them sleep”.

Are you kidding me right now?!  That is a lot of flowers!

California Gold

People were hiking in dresses, so they could get special pictures like this.

I hope that you enjoyed striking California Gold with me Pursuing Balance through Adventure. Natural beauty abounds you just need to go out and experience it. If you liked this posting I hope that you will click “follow” and also “like” and leave a comment.

Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve Trail

Chasing the Super Bloom

Activity: Day Hike

Date: March 22, 2019

Huntington Beach, California

4 1/2 miles, 2 1/4 hours in duration, less than 100’ in elevation change, rated Easy.

There has been a lot of press lately regarding the wildflowers in Southern California because of the unusually wet winter we have had.  It mentions places like Lake Elsinore, Joshua Tree, and Death Valley as having what they are terming a “Super Bloom”.  While looking for information regarding the phenomenon it mentioned other places with an abundance of wildflowers, and it made reference to Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve right near where I live in Huntington Beach.  I had experienced this hike once or twice, but that was a decade or so ago.  So it was about time I laced up my hiking shoes and checked out my own back yard, Huntington Beach’s wetlands and start chasing the “Super Bloom.”

This is a delightful little hike right across from Huntington Beach’s Bolsa Chica State Beach.  The wetlands of the ecological reserve are home to many species of birds, I saw a few lizards, and even a squirrel.  The trail works it’s way across the wetlands to a hill which is covered with wild grasses, the tips gently swaying in the ocean breeze, sprinkled with different wildflowers.  But your full attention is captured by the large field of yellow that did not disappoint when searching for wildflowers and I was certainly surprised to see so many.  So it appears that Huntington Beach has it’s own Super Bloom.

A sea of yellow, across from a sea of blue

While on the trail above the small bluff, there are nice views of the Pacific, Catalina Island, and the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

If you look close you will see the sprinkling of color the wildflowers lend to the wetlands area.

I hope that you enjoyed my Pursuing Balance through Adventure episode as I chase the Southern California “Super Bloom”, and find it in my own backyard. Leave a comment, Like the article, but be sure to get out and feel the sunshine on your face, the air in your lungs, and balance your soul.

Sharing Arizona Hot Springs

Activity: Day Hike

Date: March 19, 2019

Arizona, (Down stream of Hoover Dam)

6 miles, 5.5 hours in duration, over 1,200′ in elevation change, rated Moderate.

It is always fun to share a hike with family and friends. To share the Arizona Hot Springs five out of five star hike is something special. This hike really has just about everything: desert, canyon, slot canyon, hot spring, Colorado River, beauty and with enough elevation to give you a workout.

This is a well traveled hike and on an early Spring weekday with temperatures in the 70’s we encountered about as many hikers as degrees on the thermometer, which is not to bad on a 6 mile hike (7.5 miles for us according to my health app. We took a couple little side tours.)

Sharing the trail with family and friends is something special. On this trip I enjoyed the company of my son, daughter, and her boyfriend.

The hike starts out in the desert headed toward canyons.

I took this hike at Thanksgiving and the difference is over the winter the Southwest has encounter an abundance rain and even the desert is greener with wildflowers Springing up.

This hillside was not green the last time I saw it.

Arizona Hot Springs, there are three pools. The first one is so hot that you almost have to run through it. The second is just right like a hot tub, and the third one is Luke warm.

Probably a good idea to have some sort of water shoes to change into out of your hike shoes. The warm water softens your feet making the gravel unpleasant.

Just after the hot springs is a tall ladder wet from the waterfall of warm water falling adjacent to it.

Here we are at the Colorado River.

No reason to change back into hiking clothes with the nice temperatures.

The Colorado River has an emerald green color to it. It you look along the trail, perched high with death on three sides you will see my son Alec. Be careful!

Here is another picture zoomed in. Quite a view from up there.

I guess ducks like cashews…

Pursuing Balance through Adventure

Two knights coming to the aid of a damsel in distress…

Love hiking this canyon

Thanks for joining me Pursuing Balance through Adventure. Leave a comment, follow my blog, but most of all get out there and enjoy the beauty and adventure.

Black Star Canyon Falls

Activity: Day Hike

Date: March 13, 2019

Orange County, California

7 miles, 6.5 hours in duration, less than 1000’ change in elevation, rated Moderate

I had heard that this was a very popular hike and since we have had a lot of rainfall during the last month I knew that the falls would be flowing and it would be a primo time to go. I arrived at dawn so that I would find parking, which turned out to be no problem at that time of day, but there were 4 or 5 cars there already. When I returned there were 40 or more. During my hike I saw over 60 hikers. On the dirt road portion 6 mountain bikers and one trail runner. This was winter midweek mind you! I met up with almost all of them on their way in while I was on my way out, so I was please about my early start.

It was a brisk 48 degrees at sun up and it warmed up about 10 degrees during the time I was there. More than half of this hike is on dirt road making it’s way through rolling green hills, (due to the unusually rainy season), along a babbling brook. I think that is why this hike is rated moderate. The first part is easy, the last part is strenuous. So I suppose that evens out to moderate?

Once the dirt road ends you then begin working your way up the Canyon and the stream. You will ford the stream over and over. It is slow going as sometimes there is a clear path and sometimes there isn’t. You have to hop scotch across rocks, type rope across damp branches, make your way up muddy slopes, always being cognizant of the abundant poison oak. Picking a route is not always easy, and many times you will do an about face and look for a better way across the stream, or across a boulder. It continues to ramp up in difficulty as you go until you are actually rock scrambling. There is one muddy bank that is pretty steep and you wouldn’t make it up without the rope that is tied on to a tree.

Here is a quick story about my embarrassing moment. I had painstakingly and very methodically picked my way across the stream over and over. I brought trekking poles which I thought would help with the balance and they did, but it was slow going. I did not want to get wet although some folks just walked through the water. I had made it all the way to the falls and almost all the way back without a slip or a dip. Then I happened upon these two cute little Asian ladies. They were heading toward the falls and they motioned that they had seen some other hikers go across were they were standing. It didn’t look too bad. It was multiple rocks to hop across. Instead of planting my poles on the bottom, testing it, and slowly making my way across with great care as I had many times, I thought I will just go with momentum and not use the poles. After all these little ladies were waiting, and it would be more impressive to just step step step. Well, about halfway across I slipped on the rock dipping both shoes in the water. I went down on my hip on one rock and my knee on another in a precarious position. At that point I had only two wet feet, but I was now momentarily stuck in this position. If I did not play my cards right this could end in disaster. I was dangerously close to rolling over like a turtle on my back and getting completely drenched and thus utterly humiliated. Luckily I was able to regain my composure, and raise myself up from this slick twister game and make it to the bank, all the while these little ladies were standing there big eyed with their hands over their mouth.

Black Star Canyon is a beautiful place with rushing water tumbling over rocks, and finally when you make it all the way to the end you can’t help but say, “Oh wow!”, as you turn the bend and there is this awesome 65’ waterfall. To the left is a mineshaft opening with water cascading out, which makes this particular waterfall very unusual. This canyon is named Black Star after a coal mining company that worked the area for a short time over 100 years ago.

This is the trail head to Black Star Canyon

It is crazy how the green just jumps out at you when usually So Cal is pretty dry. Thanks to all the rain this winter this is a great hike.

Most of the hike is along this dirt road. Not the most interesting, but the hills are so green it is really lovely.

I love the sound of a babbling brook, and this entire hike is along this stream.

Wow, someone is paranoid about security. I suppose if I was a rich land baron I might feel the same. Part of the hike goes through Edwards Ranch, so I suppose we should just be happy we are able to access the waterfall by being allowed across their land.

Careful around the mud, don’t slip.

Past the Black Star Canyon Falls sign is where the adventure truly begins. The rest of the trip will be along this stream. Sometimes there is a pretty good trail, sometimes there’s not. I will be crossing this brook dozens of times always searching for the best way.

Well, I am writing this blog article a couple days after the hike, so thank goodness I did not get poison oak. It was everywhere so I was always watching what I was grabbing.

Love the sound of rushing water. The picture is nice but you have to checkout all the videos.

When you turn the bend and there is the 65’ Black Star Canyon Falls before you flowing heavily from the recent rains all you can say is “oh wow’.

Thanks for visiting Pursuing Balance through Adventure. I hope that you enjoyed this posting about Black Star Canyon Falls. If you did please press “like”, leave a comment, and “follow me” in a quest to find adventure. -Roger Jenkins

The Potato Chip Via Mt. Woodson Trail

Activity: Day Hike

Date: March 4, 2019

Mt. Woodson Trail, Poway, California

Less than 8 miles, 4 hours in duration, over 2,100′ change in elevation, rated Hard

This is a must do hike for locals and visitors to the Poway area. It was rated as hard, but I would have to disagree with that rating as I would say it is moderate. Perhaps they gave it that rating as it has a descent elevation change over a fairly short amount of mileage. The elevation is quite gradual as you are pretty much always climbing as you head for the summit.

The terrain is very interesting it’s not alpine, it’s not desert, it’s something else. What it is, at least for my trip, was rolling green hills, (green from this winter’s unusual rain amounts), covered with brush and dotted with boulders, some of which are monstrous.

The most interesting of all the rock formations along the Mt Woodson Trail is the “Potato Chip.” I have never seen anything like it. It appears to me a large boulder where the whole underneath has eroded away leaving basically a “Walk the Plank, Arrrrr!” type of platform. It looks as thin and frail as a potato chip thus the name, “The Potato Chip”.

When you walk the plank, or in this case the Potato Chip, some say you can hear your foot steps echo as it vibrates with each step you take. You can only truly appreciate the peril of the situation if you are the person taking the picture. The person whom took my photo squealed, “oh geez”, as I just walked out there to the edge and especially when I dangled my feet over the side. He told me when he had gone out on the rock he crawled. From the top it pretty much looks like any other boulder you might be walking on. I figured I was not the first one to ever try this feat so it must be okay.

The “Potato Chip” is just shy of the Mt Woodson summit. If you care to dare then this is the only scrambling you will do on the trip, as you climb up on the first boulder. Then you take a bit of a leap over a crevasse to get out onto the rock. After my little adrenaline rush I slid down the boulder on the seat of my pants while attempting to jam my hiking boot into a crack as I went down to slow my descent.

The Mt Woodson trail has outstanding views in all directions much of the hike, but especially from the summit. Even though this was a cloudy Winter Monday, with temperatures in the 50’s, (which by the way is the perfect time to go as it is not too crowded), I could in the distance make out the skyline of downtown San Diego, Point Loma, and even further out a couple of islands off of Mexico.

I mentioned I went at the perfect time as it wasn’t too crowded. I did run into nearly 100 hikers on this well traveled hike but spread out nicely over the 8 mile trek. On a nice weekend, I am told, the wait to get your picture taken on the “Potato Chip” can be over an hour.

Really loved this hike, great workout, fantastic scenery, and the “Potato Chip” is pretty darn cool.

To access this hike I started in Lake Poway Park. There is a trail heading toward the Mt. Woodson Trail that goes by Poway Lake and then instead of following it around the lake you head on up.

Spring is on the way.

The “Potato Chip”

Summit of Mt Woodson

One of the monstrous boulders along the trek.

Rock staircase along the Mt Woodson Trail

Annie’s Canyon via North Rio’s Trail San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve

Activity: Day Hike

Date: March 8, 2019

Solana Beach, California, 2 miles, 134’ elevation change, 1 hour duration

San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve is a pleasant walk beside a saltwater marsh area, along a trail filled with lush greenery. It is fairly flat until you venture upon Annie’s Canyon. What a delight working through this little slot canyon. It was so cool, more than I expect with a tight squeeze, twists and turns as you went up. Annie’s Canyon was different then other slot canyons I have been to. It was close quarters, just room for one at a time and it went up in elevation. Others slots I have been in where fairly flat, but this had a bit of a climb. The sign said strenuous, but I would not describe it that way. I with describe it as fun.

This is the entrance to the slot Canyon know as Annie’s Canyon at Solana Beach in San Diego County.

The San Diego area near the beach is always so lush and it is particularly green with all the rain we have had of late.

Just look at that wild hillside lots of greenery.

Wild flowers blooming along the path.

This shows the saltwater marsh in the background looking toward the beach.

Spring is close, beautiful flowers.

I was not expecting this slot canyon to be this cool, winding back and for as it moved up.

Not sure if you can tell from the picture, but this is going up at a pretty good angle.

This ladder may look rickety, however it was quite securely fastened to the sandstone.

From the View Point looking out over the top of a portion of Annie’s Canyon.

A couple nice photos looking out over the hillside, the saltwater marsh and Solana Beach.

I was pleasantly surprised by this outing, it was more than I expected and very enjoyable.

Crystal Cove State Park, ‘No Name Ridge’, ‘Mach One Ridge’, ‘Bommer Ridge’

Activity: Day Hike

Date: February 25, 2019

Just under 8 miles, over 1,350 feet elevation change, 3.5 hours

The Newport Coast is one of my favorite spots for day hiking. So Cal has had so much rain lately that our reservoirs are full, and the storms have put a serious dent in our ongoing drought situation. This has brought us a stunning green landscape to enjoy in this late winter season and provided a perfect day to get out and enjoy nature.

 

The Park had multiple interior trails closed due to safety issues caused by the recent storms. I had to revise my hike to ridges on the West and East with the only cut across open going across the interior.
I started the hike on No Name Ridge. It must be nice to have a home bordering a state park.
Here is where I had to revise my hike. I ended up running into such closures multiple times, but Mach One trail got me across the interior to Moro Ridge which forms the other border of the park.
This is an example of some of the ruts the storm had caused from the water run off. This is an open trail, so I you can imagine what portions of the closed trails look like. I like to mountain bike this area and I certainly would not want to come around a bend at a high rate of speed and find something like this.

Spring seems right around the corner when you are enjoying temperatures in the mid 60’s, hiking in a tee-shirt and shorts, and observing the first blooms.

The more I hike the more I say to myself, I really need to get out more often, after all everyone can use a little more adventure in their life.

An Adventurer’s Pursuit of Balance