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Wilderness Parks in Orange County, California

 
 
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Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park 
 
 
A favorite of mountain bikers and hikers. Quickly being encroached by development, however. "This expansive park sits at the south end of the Laguna Greenbelt. Its canyons harbor a pastoral feel unmatched in Orange County. Favored with petroglyphs etched by Native Americans, Aliso & Wood Canyons are natural wonders still to be enjoyed.... Approximately 4,000 acres of wilderness and natural open space land. Originally, part of the Juaneno or Acajchemem tribal land, it later was owned by Don Juan Avila, Louis Moulton, The Mission Viejo Company and now is under the jurisdiction of Harbors, Beaches, and Parks Department. Within the park lands are mature oaks, sycamores, and elderberry trees, two year round streams and over 30 miles of official trails. Many rare and endangered plants and animals make this park their home. This park is dsignated as a wildlife sanctuary. "  Laguna Niguel
Arroyo Trabuco addition to O'Neill Regional Park 
 
 
"The Arroyo Trabuco addition to O'Neill Regional Park is 935 acres of relatively pristine land. Presently maintained as a wilderness preserve, the Arroyo Trabuco is exemplary as a natural area where the rancho days are not far gone and where Golden Eagles, Mule Deer and Mountain Lions still exist. Planned recreational use will be passive, including hiking, nature photography and picnicking. In future years, hiking trails will link the Arroyo Trabuco with upper Trabuco Canyon and the nearby Cleveland National Forest in an effort to save much of the twenty mile Trabuco Corridor for public enjoyment."  Trabuco Canyon
Franko's Maps of Orange County & Vicinity 
 
 
Surfing? Biking? Hiking? Fishing? Exploring? Boating? Franko's Maps have long been a staple of OC Locals! Franko's Map of Orange County Surfing, Franko's Map of San Diego Surfing, Franko's Map of Orange County Trails, Franko's Trail Map of Santa Ana Mountains & Chino Hills, Franko's Trail Map of Big Bear, Franko's Poster of Big Bear, Franko's Map of South Coast Wilderness (Laguna Beach Wilderness), Franko's Diving Map of Santa Catalina Islands, Franko's Diving Map of Channel Islands, Franko's Diving Map of Orange County Coast, Franko's Diving Map of San Diego Coast, Franko's Diving Map of Los Angeles Coast, Franko's La Jolla Shores Fish Card, Franko's HMCS Yukon Deck Plan & Fish Identifier, Franko's Channel Islands Mini Map & Kelp Forest Creatures, Franko's Avalon Underwater Park & Kelp Forest Creatures, Franko's Map of Catalina's Two Harbors & Fish Identification Card, Franko's Map of Santa Catalina Island, Franko's Map of Channel Islands, Franko's Map of San Diego County Coast, Franko's Map of Orange County Coast, Franko's Map of Los Angeles County Coast, Franko's Map of Newport Harbor & Upper Newport Bay,  Corona
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park 
 
 
"Lush, sycamore-shaded canyons and high ridges offering views of the Pacific Ocean create a spectacular environment for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Designed to preserve the delicate balance of the natural habitat, a major portion of the park’s 6,500 acres is open for use on a limited basis.... Laguna Coast Wilderness Park lies within some of the last remaining coastal canyons in Southern California. The park ecosystem is primarily Coastal Sage Scrub, with Maritime Chaparral, Oak Woodlands, Riparian habitats, and the ONLY natural lakes in Orange County. The park is also enrolled in the Natural Community Conservation Planning program designed to protect various endangered species (California Gnatcatcher, Cactus Wren, Orange-Throated Whiptail) by preserving large tracts of the rapidly diminishing coastal sage ecosystem. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is 6500 acres (property is owned by The City of Laguna Beach, The County of Orange, and the California Department of Fish & Game) It is part of the South Coast Wilderness area, comprised of Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, Crystal Cove State Park, The City of Irvine Open Space and Irvine Ranch Land Reserve, and Laguna Coast (about 18,000 acres)"  Laguna Beach
Riley Wilderness Park 
 
 
523 acres of hiking, biking & riding! "As a wildlife sanctuary, Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park is home to an abundant number of native plants and animal life. Old groves of Western Sycamores and Coast Live Oaks border the park's two seasonally flowing creeks. The remaining land features rolling hills and canyons of Coastal Sage Scrub and grasslands. "  Coto de Caza
Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park 
 
 
"In this, Orange County’s largest park, the wilderness setting offers a rare opportunity to experience nature in its entire splendor throughout the year. Open for both day use and camping, visitors can enjoy a number of recreational activities, including several unique interpretive programs to acquaint them with the natural splendor of the area.... Caspers Wilderness Park is an 8,000 acre protected wilderness preserve nestled among the river terraces and sandstone canyons of the western coastal Santa Ana Mountains. The park's many fertile valleys are overtly complemented by specimen groves of native Coastal Live Oak and magnificent stands of California Sycamore. These areas are further accentuated by seasonal wildflower displays and running streams. Wildlife is abundant and can be readily viewed from any of the parks numerous trails."  San Juan Capistrano
Talbert Nature Preserve 
 
 
"Highlighted by carefully restored and maintained natural wetlands, this unique park is bounded by the Santa Ana River and the Costa Mesa Bluffs. Park visitors will find a variety of hiking and interpretive trails, as well as an informal picnic area, all situated within an “ecological staircase” of a salt marsh, fresh-water wetlands, grasslands and woodlands.... Talbert Nature Preserve is located North and South of Victoria Street in Costa Mesa between Pacific Avenue and the Santa Ana River. The North Talbert Preserve consists of 91.5 acres and the South Talbert Preserve is approximately 88.5 acres. The park is divided into six separate plant groups, identified as "zones" and based upon the progression of plant groups and changing conditions found along the Santa Ana River. The first zone is designated "Intensive Use Area" and the plant material has been selected based on use instead of its origins on the site. The second zone, a "Border Planting" zone is planted with vegetation designed to maintain boundaries and screen the embankment of the Greenville-Banning Channel. Another zone, the "Coastal Strand" consists of gentle slopes and dunes, a habitat largely destroyed by the advance of civilization in the area. The "Native Grassland" zone is the largest zone in the park and provides opportunities for wildlife habitats. An "Alluvial Woodland" zone contains a wide variety of plant and animal life and is the most secluded area in the park. Finally, the "Wetland Zone" consists of the southern 14.8 acres of the park and contains elements of riparian woodland and mulefat scrub. "  Costa Mesa
Upper Newport Bay 
 
 
"Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and Ecological Reserve represent approximately 1,000 acres of open space. Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve surrounds the Ecological Reserve. The park includes the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center. Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve totals approximately 140 acres. The Nature Preserve is made up of the bluffs surrounding the Bay. Three sensitive species use the bluffs: The California Gnatcatcher, San Diego Cactus Wren, and Burrowing Owl. Two important plant communities are found on the bluffs - grasslands and coastal sage scrub. Upper Newport Ecological Reserve totals 752 acres. This coastal wetland, one of the largest in southern California , is renowned as one of the finest bird watching sites in North America. During winter migration up to 35,000 birds may be using the Bay at one time. It is home to six rare or endangered species: Light Footed Clapper Rail, Brown Pelican, Belding's Savannah Sparrow, Black Rail, Peregrine Falcon and California Least Tern. The Bay is home to one endangered plant species - Saltmarsh Bird's Beak. Considered a "critical estuary" habitat - Upper Newport Bay is one of the most pristine remaining estuaries in Southern California. "  Newport Beach
Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park 
 
 
A favorite of mountain bikers. Awesome! "Approximately 4,000 acres of deeply forested canyons, scenic rock formations and grassy rolling hills are enriched by intermittent streams and trails to create an ideal open air opportunity for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. The park’s interpretive center features a trail rest stop, cultural and natural history exhibits and park information.... Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park encompasses approximately 1,600 acres of Riparian and Oak Woodland canyons, rolling grassland hills, and steep slopes of Coastal Sage Scrub and Chaparral. The park is highlighted by scenic rock formations, including the beautiful Red Rock Canyon. There are three intermittent streams: Borrego, Serrano and Aliso Creek meandering through the park, each hosting an abundance of wildlife. Remnants of the former cattle ranching days can been seen throughout the park."  Trabuco Canyon
© Keith Weber
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