Sunday, June 21, is the official start of summer. As schools begin to let out, and as kids look for ways to fill their days, you can help steer them away from the television remote or video game controller and toward some healthy outdoor adventures. While there are plenty of scheduled, docent-led activities for families, it may not always be easy to plan ahead. For busy families, there are also plenty of fun destinations open daily within the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks that can help create lasting family memories.
Crystal Cove State Park, open 6 a.m. to sunset, has many diverse trails leading to a beach with tide pools. Crystal Cove is home to historic cottages and restaurants and can be a great place for a family to spend the day.
Irvine’s Quail Hill, open from 7 a.m. to sunset, offers an easy 2-mile loop trail, complete with a guided cell phone tour, which allows leashed dogs.
Bommer Canyon, also in the City of Irvine, features a variety of trails with spectacular views of natural habitat as well as interesting remnants of local ranching history. Specific trails in Bommer Canyon are open daily for self-guided access, from 7 a.m. to sunset. Other trails in Bommer Canyon run through more sensitive wildlife habitats, and are open during docent-led activities or Wilderness Access Days.
On June 20, Wilderness Access Day in Bommer Canyon offers participants the chance to walk, run, hike or bike on all of the canyon’s trails. These Wilderness Access Days in Bommer Canyon happen monthly. Click here for a list of all of these upcoming activities.
Buck Gully Reserve, in the City of Newport Beach, open from dawn to dusk, is a beautiful coastal canyon which offers hikers and mountain bikers several miles of trails to explore. A short hike in Buck Gully can be a great balance to a lazy afternoon spent at the beach.
Many of the OC Parks’ regional parks offer great places to hike with the family, and even allow leashed dogs. Irvine Regional Park and Peters Canyon Regional Park in particular offer miles of great dirt trails that will help connect your family to local natural open spaces. Irvine Regional Park and Peters Canyon Regional Park are open daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the spring and summer months.
When hiking with kids, bring plenty of snacks and water, and be prepared to stop often. While it’s great encouragement for future little hikers to be able to carry their own supplies, like water, snacks, sunscreen, small binoculars and a journal, it is important to keep their packs as light as possible and be prepared to carry them yourself. Remember that the closer you are to the ground, the higher the temperatures feel.
Including your children in the planning process, and letting them help decide where to go, what to do and what to see can add greatly to their enjoyment of the adventure, and can make them feel invested in it. While on the trails, you and your kids can search for animal clues, play nature bingo, watch for wildlife, take photos, sketch in a journal or engage in any number of fun activities that will help emphasize the fun and joy of being in nature. Visit www.LetsGoOutside.org/activities/trail-tips/ for a full list of suggestions for hiking with kids, as well as other trail tips, gear, attire and etiquette suggestions.
Information on all locations mentioned can be found at www.LetsGoOutside.org/explore. Docent-led programs require pre-registration. For full details on all offered programs, please visit www.LetsGoOutside.org/activities.