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.
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.
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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
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.
This shows the second of two falls that make up Ortega Falls.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Heisler Park along the Pacific Ocean in Laguna Beach, California is one of my favorite urban hikes. It is so beautiful there, so serene, so charming. It is pretty much a botanical garden on the Pacific. Every time I am there I see artists trying to capture the essence of this magical setting.
The following pictures are of my hike this winter’s day. Winter’s day… I almost feel bad saying that, as a typical day in So Cal in the winter is much different than say were my daughter is studying at the University of Wisconsin where they have a low of -22. MINUS 22 can you believe that?! Well, it was very pleasantly in the low 70’s on this day at the beach in Laguna.
I have also combined some pictures of another day at this special place that I took in mid fall. You can tell where they start as the skies are a clear blue without so much of a whisper of a cloud.
I park in the neighborhood, a very well to do neighborhood I might add, just north of the park. Then I walk through the park enjoying nature, the ocean, the cliffs, the rocks, and the gardens that make up Heisler Park.
From there I head down the slope to Main Beach in Laguna. This beach is sort of like Mayberry on the Andy Griffith Show. It is surreal, it is almost to perfect. It is the quintessential California kick back beach. Everything is just so cute and so quaint, from the small little lifeguard station, the wandering boardwalk, basketball court, viewing benches, kids play ground, lifeguard tower. It is, in a word, perfect.
I continue past Main Beach south viewing quaint little hotels, cliff side dining, and beach houses that range from kick back to wow I love it!
I walk as far as I can go without having to do a little rock scrambling, which I might have to do the next time to continue adding to my adventure. But this hike there and back, stopping for pictures, and checking out tide pools, so let’s call it strolling, is about 2 hours.
USS Midway, San Diego, California ‘America Afloat’. To me this represents the best of America. It represents our resolve, dedication, engineering, and fortitude. This is our history. The USS Midway was named after a battle that was the turning point of World War II in the Pacific. The Midway was longest serving carrier, being commissioned around the end of World War II, and operated during the Korean War, Vietnam and into the 90’s and the Gulf War.
My son Alec and I enjoying a great day aboard ship.
This shot is taken from the portside looking forward to the bow.