Santa Rosa Plateau
January 31, 2009
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 :)
|Sonya, an artist, loves the sculptural old oak branches
|The vernal pool where fairy shrimp, frogs, and lots of birds live
|This Coast Live Oak is huge and about 500 years old!
|In the cool shady area along the creek ferns thrive
|We looked for newts but didn't see any
|Up on the plateau and the views stretch all the way to Mt. San
Gorgonio, the highest peak in Southern California
|Sonya's been here a half-dozen times but had never climbed
Monument Hill so up up up we went!
|At the top there is a two-sided bench and far reaching views, look
east and north and you see high mountains, west you see the ocean
|I think they've done a prescribed burn here and that's why the
grass is so vividly green
|We spotted Mt. Baldy in the distance
|There are two USGS markers on top of Monument Hill