|This place is special... Ancient oak woodlands, rolling grassland of bunchgrasses, cool riparian areas, rare vernal pools, plentiful wildlife including many sensitive species, gorgeous views, old adobes, mortar holes in the granite rocks, and lots of hiking trails... So glad the Nature Conservancy and others had the foresight to protect this area from development. As a native Californian I know how rare it is to see these lower elevation areas that haven't been used and abused in some way... and now since it's been preserved everyone has access to its treasures :)
I met Sonya, a new friend/hiking partner that I found through the So Cal Hikers Group, here yesterday and we hiked about 10 miles through the preserve. The weather was perfect, clear blue skies, and warm! Fortunately the shady riparian areas and huge old oak trees provided shade along many portions of our hike. The grass was green, the wildflowers just starting to bloom, and I had a great time.
We started at the Hidden Valley Trailhead and hiked the Coyote Trail to the Trans-Preserve Trail to the Vernal Pools Trail. Here there is a cool boardwalk suspended above the vernal pools which fill up with water in the spring and are very rare, only a handful are left in Southern California. Then we hiked to the adobes, which are the oldest structures in Riverside County. Then we hiked the Adobe Loop Trail which followed a bubbling creek and this lead to the Punta Mesa Trail. Here the woodlands gave way to fragrant chaparral. Then we took the Monument Hill Trail up to the summit and then down to the Lomas Trail. This took us to the Oak Tree Trail and then back to the Coyote Trail and back to the trailhead. In all we probably did about 10 miles which was more mileage than I've done in one day in a while. But this is good because I have tentative plans to do a longer dayhike in April, Caliente Mountain, and possibly Mt. Whitney with my sister-in-law Tina and brother-in-law Rod this summer!
After the hike I had planned on stopping at the visitor center but I was hungry and a bit worn out so I decided to head on home. But I will take Todd back here another day and we'll see the center and hike more of the trails and hopefully see more wildflowers blooming, Sonya tells me there are chocolate lillies