Aliso and Wood Canyons

Nestled within the sea of concrete, advertisements, track housing, and traffic snarls that is Orange County lies an oasis of grass, chaparral, and riparian habitat. Aliso and Wood Canyons are the southern most part of a preserved portion of the Laguna Coast, which also features Crystal Cove State Park. While evidence of man is abundant …

Dry Lakes Ridge

Tucked away high atop a ridge in Los Padres National Forest north of Ojai lie five "dry lakes." These "lakes" are actually meadows, even though they look like they could hold water, given enough precipitation. This unusual, perhaps unique environment is as tranquil and beautiful as it is surprising.Distance: 5 MilesElevation Gained: 1,600Difficulty: Moderately StrenuousTime: …

Guatay Mountain

Guatay Mountain is a moderate-height peak that lies just south of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. The park features the usual views, but the noteworthy aspect of this mountain is that it is home to the Tecate Cypress, which grows in a handful of locales in Orange and San Diego Counties.Distance: 5.7Elevation Gained: 1,600'Difficulty: Moderately StrenuousTime: …

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park: Oakzanita Peak, Granite Springs, East Mesa, Dyar Springs

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park comprises one of the largest public parks in Southern California. It features mountains topping out at 6,500', rolling meadows, shady canyons, rare cypresses, and a plethora of wildlife. There is a vast network of trails that can create easy hikes, masochistic hikes, and everything inbetween.Distance: 12 MilesElevation Gained: 1,600'Difficulty: Moderately StrenuousTime: …

Sitton Peak

This relatively modest peak in the southern end of the Santa Ana Mountains features great views of the ocean, and, when it's clear, the San Bernadino Mountains, Palomar Mountains, Los Angeles and Orange County Basins, and Catalina Island.Distance: 9.5 MilesElevation Gained: 2,150'Difficulty: Moderately StrenuousTime: 3:45Critters: Squirrels, birds, hawksGet there like this.┬áThe Santa Ana Mountains are …

Whale Peak

Whale Peak stands as a botanical island in the sky amidst the scorched, barren wastelands of the Anza-Borrego desert. Representing the high point of the Vallecito Mountains, Whale Peak supports a thriving pinyon-juniper woodland, which is more common to the higher elevations of the Mojave Desert and eastern sides of the Sierra Nevadas. Flora aside, …

San Gabriel Peak

Panorama of the San Gabriel Range looking east to Mt. BaldyDistance: 4.2 MilesElevation Gained: 1,600'Difficulty: Moderately StrenuousTime: 2:30Directions to the trailheadNote: Don't forget your National Forest Adventure PassDetails:Red Box Canyon from the TrailheadThe Front Range of the San Gabriel Mountains looms like a massive, green wall over the cities of the San Gabriel Valley. This …

Meysan Lakes Trail

Distance: 7 MilesElevation Gained: 2,400Difficulty: Moderately StrenuousTime: 3:45Critters: Marmots, chipmunksNew trees: Singleleaf Pinyon Pine, Black Cottonwood, Mountain Alder, Mountain MahoganyPros:- Great warm-up for Whitney- I love the Sierra Nevada MountainsCons:- Forgot the sunscreen- Looming thunderstormsDetails:So, this Whitney thing kind of fell into my lap. I met a guy named Kyle on a hike to Mt. …

Blue Sky Ecological Reserve and Lake Poway

Distance: 7.6 MilesElevation Gained: 1,300'Difficulty: Moderately StrenuousTime: 2:45Critters: NonePros:- Sunset in August is a brilliant thingCons:- Heat in August sucks huevosDetails:So, last month, I actually failed to reach 100 miles of hiking for a month for the first time all year. Granted, I hiked 99.7 miles, which is hardly a cop-out. Yet, I looked at …