Already slipping on your New Year’s resolutions? You may find the solution out on the trails.
A study by Franklin Covey showed that 35 percent of people will have already broken those commendable promises by the end of January. If you’re at risk for joining that group, let the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks give your New Year’s resolution a second wind. Year after year, the most popular resolutions include getting healthy, trying something new, giving back to the community, and spending more time with the family; whichever of these resonate with you most, there’s an activity outdoors that can help you still make 2016 your best year yet.
It’s no surprise that fitness-related resolutions remain the most popular, with losing weight and staying fit often ranking within the top five. Sometimes the best motivation is a change of scenery – trade the overcrowded gym for local meadows and oak woodlands by moving your fitness routine outdoors. A variety of activities on the Landmarks are tailored to a wide range of skills and exercise regimens. The City of Irvine offers two weekly yoga programs led by certified instructors and Irvine Ranch Conservancy volunteers. Morning Yoga in Bommer Canyon on Wednesday, Jan. 27, offers a relaxing combination of hiking and meditative yoga at the historic Cattle Camp; while Flow Yoga in the Hills on Friday, Jan. 29, will keep you continuously moving and flowing through a vinyasa-style practice among the beautiful backdrop of Irvine’s Orchard Hills. For a more vigorous yoga-and-hiking activity, you can also try Yiking: Cardio Hike and Yoga, a recurring program held various Sundays at Orchard Hills.
Those looking for a big boost to their heart rate can kick off their weekend Saturday, Jan. 30, at Intro Cardio Fitness: Weir Canyon Rifle Range Loop. This program is an introduction to fitness-focused hiking, with multiple steep climbs along 5 miles of OC Parks’ Weir Canyon Nature Preserve and a rewarding view of Saddleback Peak and the Cleveland National Forest along the way. You can see more upcoming hiking and fitness programs available throughout the Landmarks here.
You can gain skills while giving back to the community by volunteering your time at the Conservancy’s Native Plant Nursery and newly re-opened Native Seed Farm. Cobweb thistle and purple needlegrass, native seedlings grown at the nursery by volunteers from the community, are now ready to be planted at the City of Irvine’s Quail Hill on Thursday, Jan. 28, at Native Plant Nursery at Quail Hill. This work helps native habitat thrive, directly benefiting local wildlife.
Additionally, continued planting and weeding at the brand-new Native Seed Farm occurs on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The twice-weekly event gives volunteers the opportunity to get 15,000 baby plants in the ground before spring, helping landowners including OC Parks, the City of Irvine and the City of Newport Beach efficiently and cost-effectively restore sensitive wildlife habitats. (You can read about the new Native Seed Farm here.)
Learning New Skills
Those interested in expanding their horizons while spending more time outdoors can also pursue new hobbies such as developing birding skills during Birding in Round Canyon on Saturday, Jan. 30, or seek artistic inspiration from nature at programs including Connecting to Nature Using Art and Art on the Landmarks: Painting on the Mesa at OC Parks' Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park.
Many of the programs offered on the Landmarks are labeled as "Interpretive," which means that naturalists educate visitors about a particular topic while you enjoy the outdoors. Some programs are geared toward kids, and many are specifically for adults, such as tracking and natural history. A full list of interpretive programs can be found here.
There are plenty of opportunities within the Landmarks to spend more time with family in unique, interesting ways. Bring a group out to Family Hike: Round Canyon on Saturday, Jan. 30, for a 2- to 3-mile hike along a fairly flat trail through OC Parks’ Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve while watching for red-tailed hawks and mule deer. Kids as young as 6 are welcome on this hike if accompanied by a parent or adult, so bring the whole family out for a leisurely paced opportunity to learn more about nature.
There are also many parks open daily for self-guided access, where families can connect to the Landmarks on their own. Take a stroll along the City of Irvine’s Quail Hill Loop Trail, where visitors can dial into a cell phone audio tour and learn about native flora and fauna while hiking. Bommer Canyon in Irvine also includes trails open to the public from dawn to dusk, and additional parks open daily include the City of Newport Beach’s Buck Gully Reserve, and OC Parks’ O’Neill and Peters Canyon regional parks.
With all the options available, the hardest part won’t be sticking to your New Year’s resolution – it will be deciding which exciting adventure to try first! All programs are free with required registration, which closes at 4 p.m. the day prior to the event. To learn more about or to register for these activities, click on the titles above or go to www.LetsGoOutside.org/activities.