Wilderness Access Days have always been a great way for beginners to connect with Orange County’s only National Natural Landmark, allowing folks to independently explore nature while knowing that highly trained volunteers were on hand throughout the trail system to help along the way. Now, newcomers to nature looking for even more expert guidance can get the most out of their time on the trails through new guided walks available at every Wilderness Access Day.
“Exploring Bommer Canyon,” “Exploring Limestone Canyon,” and “Exploring Black Star Canyon” are programs adding an educational element to the mix, and will touch on topics including what life was like for ranchers on these historic sites, evidence of animals that have been out and about on the trails, and the history of iconic geological formations such as The Sinks. After the guided walks, visitors are free to continue exploring designated trails on their own for the remainder of the access day event.
The next program is Exploring Bommer: Life on the Ranch on Saturday, Jan. 16, where participants can explore the newly renovated corral and learn more about this historic site. Exploring Limestone Canyon: The Sinks is on Saturday, Feb. 6; visitors will be able to chat with a trained naturalist during an 8-mile hike through OC Parks’ Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve to The Sinks, an iconic geological formation often compared to a mini-Grand Canyon for Orange County. On Saturday, March 5, Exploring Black Star: Birding Walk offers the chance to stroll through Baker Meadow while learning about and developing their birding skills.
While the Landmarks are conveniently located in the heart of Orange County, many city dwellers still worry that the wilderness may be a little too “wild.” With new guided walks built into Wilderness Access Days, newcomers can step into nature with a safety net – leaning on highly trained Conservancy volunteers for initial directions, tips and fun historic facts – before enjoying the rest of their day out on the trails.
Exploring on your own without really having to be on your own is what makes Wilderness Access Days the perfect "beginner" wilderness option. Typical topics of additional guided activities include hiking basics, trail etiquette, family hiking, and information on native plants and wildlife. Both the Wilderness Access Days and the docent-led beginner hikes are free, but advance registration is required in most cases. Registration is available online at www.LetsGoOutside.org.