Discovering wildflowers and rock snakes on an Orange County hike

I’m all about moderate hikes these days. My dog loves hiking but she can’t handle the heat or any sharp elevation gains, so I’m always on the lookout for a three-to-five mile trail that offers a decent workout and some features that keep it interesting for me. I found a good one in Irvine Regional Park recently. Here are the details:

Name: Horseshoe Trail to Puma Ridge

Length: 3 miles (you can add another mile by doing a figure-eight loop that combines the Horseshoe and Puma Ridge trails)

Exposure: Sunny, minimal shade

Scenery: Seasonal wildflowers, rolling hills, views of suburban development

Traffic: Busy on weekends with mountain bikers and park-goers

Comments: Leashed dogs are allowed, unlike many trails in Orange County. High temps and wildfire season make this a tough area to hike in summer: I recommend visiting in winter or spring.

Tip: There is an In ‘n Out Burger a few miles away on Chapman Blvd., a nice way to cap a morning of hiking.

Details: Irvine Regional Park is a big manicured park with playgrounds, a zoo and a Tuesday farmers’ market. But like Griffith Park, its more famous neighbor to the north, it has a network of wilderness trails that range from very easy to moderately difficult. (Unlike Griffith Park, it is also a very popular mountain biking destination.) We started off on the Willows trail near Parking Lot B, but I wasn’t loving the flat terrain or the ridgeline view of cookie-cutter homes, so we turned around and took the Horseshoe Trail south. This trail follows a three-mile loop around the whole park, but we cut off at the Puma Ridge trail, which gained a little more elevation and was more desolate and peaceful.

Why I loved this hike: It was easy to navigate and quickly leaves the hubbub of the park’s activities. Finding a rock snake at the top of Puma Ridge was a fun bonus.

#hiking #thenewnormal #discoverlosangeles dog-friendly hikes hiking hikingwithdogs Hiking with dogs Los Angeles moderate hikes Orangecounty Pandemic hiking santa susana mountains Simi Valley socalhiking Southern California Wildflowers

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