WEB-EXCLUSIVE: Here are 25 ways to enjoy the great Orange County outdoors.
It might sound cliche, but spring is most definitely in the air. And what better way to celebrate than to embark on an Orange County outdoor adventure?
"With the colorful wild flowers, cool temperatures and vigorous bird activity, spring is the best time out of the year to visit Orange County parks," says John Gump, a senior park ranger at Limestone Canyon.
Here are some events to help plan your outing:
OC Chili Winter Trail Run Series
Saturday, April 14, 7 a.m.-1 p.m.
A scenic, five-mile run through O'Neill Regional Park is the ideal way to stay fit while taking in the crisp, spring air. The OC Chili Winter Trail Run Series will provide a T-shirt and a post-event campfire and chili cook-off. $36 per person. Parking $5 per vehicle. Located at O'Neill Regional Park. Online registration required. Info: bookthatevent.com/trailrun
Trail Clearing & Weeding
Saturday, April 14, 8-11:30 a.m.
Looking to volunteer? Come spend a few hours eliminating weeds in the beautiful reserve trails in Orange County. You will be protecting native wildlife plants and making an impact on the environment. Work gloves suggested. Free event. Located at The Richard and Donna O'Neill Conservancy. Ages 10 and up. Moderate fitness level. Info: 949.489.9778 or theconservancy.org
Annual Adventure Day
Saturday, April 14, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
This year's Annual Adventure Day will feature the SoCal Wildflower Fest along with a full day of family activities, including wildlife-inspired games, natural history tours, crafts, and live music from the Live Oak Revue. Free event. Located at Caspers Wilderness Park. All ages welcome. Moderate fitness level. Info: 949.923.2210 or ocparks.com
Saturday, April 14, 8-9 p.m.
Every Saturday night, join the park ranger for an informational on Caspers Wilderness Park. The program may include a slide presentation, wilderness safety, games and activities for children, animal adaptations, skins and skulls, a live animal demonstration, and a chance to visit the Nature Center. Topics may vary weekly. Camping not necessary, day-use fee applies. Free event. Parking $5. Located at Caspers Wilderness Park. All ages welcome. Info: 949.923.2210 or ocparks.com
Saturday, April 21, 7-9 p.m.
Spend a spring evening outdoors to look through telescopes and learn about constellations from volunteer astronomers. Bring warm clothing, binoculars and a beach chair (optional). Adults $10, children $5 and supporters are free. Located at The Richard and Donna O'Neill Conservancy. Ages eight and up. Easy fitness level. Info: 949.489.9778 or theconservancy.org
NABA Butterfly Walk
Sunday, April 22, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
NABA, the North American Butterfly Association, is on its annual search for butterflies. Come learn about and identify the many Orange County species at the conservancy and hope that the spring rains produce plenty of caterpillars to blossom into "flying flowers." Binocular and birding guides suggested. Adults $10, children $5 and supporters are free. Located at The Richard and Donna O'Neill Conservancy. Ages eight and up. Moderate fitness level. Info: 949.489.9778 or theconservancy.org
Earth Day at Panhe
Sunday, April 22, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Panhe is the sacred landmark of a 9,000-year-old historic village where you can celebrate Earth Day and experience Native American culture. Singers, basketry demonstrations and flute circles are only a few of the activities planned for children and adults of all ages. Free admission, off-site parking and shuttle. Located at San Mateo Campground at San Onofre State Beach. Info: sanofoundation.org
Fourth Friday Trail Work
Friday, April 27, 8-11:30 a.m.
Although this event will require a bit more work than your average day of weeding, it is a great opportunity to spend time outdoors while making sure reserve trails are accessible to visitors. Plus, drinks and snacks are provided. Work gloves suggested. Free event. Located at The Richard and Donna O'Neill Conservancy. Ages 10 and up. Moderate fitness level. Info: 949.489.9778 or theconservancy.org
Yoga for Adults
Tuesday, May 1, 9-11:30 a.m.
Begin your day with a peaceful, 1.5-mile walk to an oak tree where you will practice yoga stretches, breathing and relaxation exercises with Laguna Canyon Foundation volunteers. Don't forget a yoga mat, towel and water. $2 donation fee and $3 parking per vehicle. Located at the James Dilley Preserve in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. Info: 949.497.8324 or lagunacanyon.org
CPF Nature Talk: Spiders
Saturday, May 5, 10-11 a.m.
Spider enthusiast Leonard Vincent will give a nature-themed lecture on local species of spiders. Free event (at the entrance kiosk, mention that you are attending a CPF meeting). Located at Visitor Center, Caspers Wilderness Park. All ages welcome. Info: 949.923.2210 or e-mail email@example.com
Horno Basin Bird Walk
Sunday, May 5, 8-11:30 a.m.
Guest leaders Robert Scrimger and Gary Meredith will lead you on a bird walk to witness the spring migration. Binoculars and bird guides suggested. Adults $10, children (8-18) $5 and supporters are free. Located at the Horno Basin in Ladera Ranch. Ages eight and up. Easy fitness level. Info: 949.489.9778 or theconservancy.org
Ghostwalker Cougar in the Santa Ana Mountains
Saturday, May 5, 10-11 a.m.
Senior Park Ranger Donna Krucki will talk about the native cougar, including information on past and current lion studies, natural habitats and their natural history. Donations optional. Located in the RMV Presentation Center. Ages eight and up. Info: 949.489.9778 or theconservancy.org
Spring Faire and Butterfly House Opening
Saturday, May 5, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Come celebrate the start of butterfly season and explore Orange County's one and only butterfly house. The event will feature artwork from 20 local artists, a Children's Juried Art Exhibit, performances by local musicians, four story walks, face painting, henna, and eco-friendly crafts. $3 donation for butterfly-themed crafts. Located at the Environmental Nature Center. All ages welcome. Info: 949.645.8489 Ext. 103 or encenter.org
Sunday, May 13, 8-9 a.m.
Join park rangers every Sunday morning for a simple one-mile hike on the Nature Trail to experience plant and animal life. Visitors will travel through grassland, oak woodland, riparian, and sandy cactus scrub communities. Comfortable clothing, hiking shoes, sunscreen, water, and insect repellent are recommended. Free event. $5 parking per vehicle. Located at Caspers Wilderness Park. All ages welcome. Info: 949.923.2210 or ocparks.com
Track and Scat Family Walk
Saturday, May 19, 9-11 a.m.
Come out on a beautiful May morning to walk the trails and learn a bit about animal tracking. This walk will teach you how to detect and identify different kinds of animal tracks and scat. Adults $10, children (8-18) $5 and supporters are free. Located at The Richard and Donna O'Neill Conservancy. Geared towards children, but all ages welcome. Easy fitness level. Info: 949.489.9778 or theconservancy.org
Saturday, May 19, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Spend a day outdoors with your furry friend. The event will feature dachshund races, on-site pet adoptions, dog training, dog rescue organizations, and dog-specific vendors. There will also be demonstrations held throughout the day, including how to perform dog CPR – a presentation by the Orange County Sherriff's Department Search and Rescue Bloodhound team. The Southern California Veterinary Vaccine clinic will even be there to provide low-cost microchipping, vaccinations and deworming. Free event. All ages welcome. Located at Mason Regional Park. Info: 949.923.2220 or ocparks.com
Introduction to Mountain Bike Riding
Sunday, May 20, 8:30-10:30 a.m.
Join Laguna Canyon Foundation volunteer mountain bike trail assistants on a 6.8-mile ride (800 ft. elevation gain) over steep and uneven terrain while enjoying a view of Laguna Canyon. Come prepared with a bike suitable for off-pavement riding, sturdy shoes, a helmet, gloves, water, and a snack. $2 donation fee. Located at the Ridge Park Staging Area in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. Info: 949.923.2235 or lagunacanyon.org
Starr Ranch Barbeque
Sunday, May 20, 1-5 p.m.
Visit the 13th Starr Ranch Barbeque for hiking, bird watching, listening to the Saddle Mountain Band, great conversation, special activities, and enjoying tasty food. Hamburgers, veggie burgers, salads, beans, potato chips, desserts, fresh fruit, and all the trimmings will be provided. A beverage bar (donations welcome) for your beverage of choice will also be available. Tickets are $30 per person and $15 for children under 12 (must request tickets in advance). Info: 949.768.3610 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Fitness Hike at Ridge Park
Thursday, May 31, 8:30-10:30 a.m.
Join Laguna Canyon Foundation volunteers during a difficult, fast-paced, six-mile hike (700 ft. elevation gain) through very steep and uneven terrain. Hiking poles suggested. $2 donation fee. Located at the Ridge Park Staging Area in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. Ages 15 and up. Not for beginners. Info: 949.923.2235 or lagunacanyon.org
CPF Nature Talk: Native American Plant Uses
Saturday, June 2, 10-11 a.m.
Senior naturalist and curriculum specialist for Inside the Outdoors, Janine Petersen will give June's nature-themed lecture on the various ways Native Americans use native plants. Free event (at the entrance kiosk, mention that you are attending a CPF meeting). Located at Visitor Center, Caspers Wilderness Park. Info: 949.923.2210 or e-mail email@example.com
Guided Kayak Tour at the Upper Newport Bay
Saturday, June 2, 10 a.m.-noon
The Newport Bay Conservancy offers a two-hour guided kayak tour of the back bay of Newport Beach every Saturday and Sunday morning. Participants receive a quick lesson on paddling before embarking into the Ecological Reserve to learn about the wildlife and ecology. Bring sun protection and be prepared to get wet. Tours depart from the Newport Aquatic Center at 10 a.m. and are open to all experience levels. Cost is $20 each. Ages eight and up. Make reservations at least 48 hours in advance. Info: 949.923.2269 or newportbay.org
Weekend at the Nix: Dr. Sue's Insect and Arthopod Zoo
Saturday, June 2, 1-4 p.m.
Learn all about insects and arthopods with Dr. Sue Van Vorhis Key. Explore her zoo, touch insects, partake in an insect scavenger hunt, and even make your own insect to take home. Donations appreciated and parking is $3 per vehicle. Located at the Little Sycamore Canyon Staging Area in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. Reservations required. Info: 949.923.2235 or lagunacanyon.org
Sierra Sage Walk
Saturday, June 9, 8-11 a.m.
The Sierra Sage chapter of the Sierra Club will teach you all about the history of The Richard and Donna O'Neill Conservancy, now part of The Reserve at Rancho Mission Viejo. Guest leader Michael Metcalf and assistant Russ Brown will guide you on a four-mile route (400 ft. elevation gain) into this beautiful area. Adults $10, children $5 and supporters are free. Located at Talega Trailhead in San Clemente. Moderate fitness level. Info: 949.489.9778 or theconservancy.org
Exploring Hot Springs
Sunday, June 17, 8-11 a.m.
Join Caspers Park Naturalist Karen Klein on a three-mile (400 ft. elevation gain) journey through the San Juan Hot Spring and Cold Springs Canyon. This hike will teach you the history and geologic significance of these Orange County springs. Bring water, sunscreen, a hat, and sturdy shoes. Reservations required. Event and parking free. Meet at the hot springs parking lot on Hot Springs Road. Ages seven and up. Info: 949.923.2210 or ocparks.com
"You've Got Gall" Nature Walk
Saturday, June 23, 9-11 a.m.
Learn about the chemicals produced by certain insects, arachnids, nematodaes (parasitic worms), fungi, or bacteria that may cause plants to produce abnormal tissue growths known as galls. Adults $10, children $5 and supporters are free. Located at The Richard and Donna O'Neill Conservancy. Info: 949.489.9778 or theconservancy.org