Research is mounting about the health benefits of spending more time outdoors – not only the exercise, but of simply being in a natural setting. As we spend more time indoors and in front of digital screens, taking a break to connect with nature can help undo some of the negative effects of increasingly tech-heavy lifestyles. Luckily, there are places like Black Star Canyon, where OC Parks and Irvine Ranch Conservancy offer rides, hikes and nature walks to help you slow down and reconnect with nature.
The portion of Black Star Canyon owned by OC Parks includes Baker Canyon, part of nearly 40,000 acres of the former Irvine Ranch that have been designated as both a National and California Natural Landmark for its rare biological and geological features. The land is permanently protected as a nature preserve, with plenty of scheduled and docent-led activities to suit nearly any interest and ability.
Escape the noise and enjoy the sounds of nature on Shhh-Hike, Look and Listen. This quiet, meditative hike is on Thursday, August 7 from 6 pm to 8 pm. The pace of this docent-led hike is slow, which allows your focus to be on all that is happening around you. Because the hike is in the evening, you may want to bring both a flashlight and clothing for the cooler evening temperatures. This hike is for adults only.
Lose yourself in the details and deepen your relationship with nature through a sketchbook on the activity Become an “Escape Artist”: Sketch and Connect to Nature. This unique docent-led hike is on Saturday, August 9 from 9 am to 12 pm. Good for the beginner to the advanced artist; this program is geared towards both teens and adults.
If you would rather choose your own outdoor adventure, connect with nature during a Wilderness Access Day, a self-guided activity held every other month in Black Star Canyon. The next Wilderness Access Day is on Saturday, September 6 from 3 pm to 7 pm, and visitors are welcome to explore the trails on their own. Check-in is required at the Baker Canyon Staging Area, where volunteers are on hand with trail maps and information that helps visitors pick the best route for their abilities and schedule.
Pre-registration is required for docent-led activities, and encouraged for Wilderness Access Days. Driving directions for each activity are provided after registering for the event at www.LetsGoOutside.org.