Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hiking Whiting Ranch aka Bikers vs ADKinLA

I recently went on a jaunt to Limestone Canyon and it piqued my interest about another OC track Whiting Ranch. There are several access points to the canyonlands but I chose to hike through a children's park called Concourse Park which then drops you down into the canyon. The trails in the canyons offer a variety of terrain so I figure I would address them in segments.

Whiting Road Trail

After you spent some time on the swing sets, the trail starts on the right side of the park

although you will have to bear left. You will know you are going in the correct direction once you see this bad boy.

The trail sharply descends and joins up with the Whiting Trail 

which is the main thoroughfare through the park. What is good to remember is the annoying fact of hiking down into canyons means you have hike back up out of them and after doing a 7+ mile hike around the park, going uphill on the last leg of things is not what you want to hear.

There are some pretty cacti and trees along the way for you to enjoy as well.

Sleep Hollow/Sage Scrub Trail

These are little loop trails that twist and turn and circle around on each other and it does give you a nice Ichabod Crane feel. They are also animal central. To say that rabbits rule the roost is an understatement, Whiting Ranch is their world and we are just living in it. There was also a herd of deer munching in the hollows so there is plenty to keep your eye entertained while you are keeping your eye out for marauding bikers.

Yes, this park has plenty of bikers. The real problem is that many of the trails are narrow and windy so you can't see the bikers bombing down the trail nor they you hiking up the trail. I am a little conflicted because as a mountain biker, I can appreciate the awesomeness of biking these trails. As a hiker, it really sucked that for 40% of the hike, I had to keep my head on a swivel just so I could find a turnout on the trail to get out of the way. Maybe it had to do with the time of day and the trails I took but if the trails are open to hikers I think something should be done to better accommodate everyone using the trails.

Vulture View Trail

Once you pop up from the roundabouts of Sage and Sleepy, there isn't a lot of signage about how to get to Vulture View (that is if you want to go on Vulture View, which I recommend you do) so I got lost and had to backtrack. Basically, if you see a trail splitting in two, go right young man (or young woman, or young alien, we don't discriminate here at EastWestHike). The trail climbs sharply with more winding, blind trails

until it pops out on a ridge

with some great views

and crows.

Vulture View then brings you to the 4 Corners,

which is where a lot of hikers and bikers congregate to discuss all things OC and fill up on some water before hitting more trails.

Billy Goat Trail

This is truly the gem of the whole Ranch. Why? Reason 1, no bikes!

Reason 2, the trail gives you a great little jaunt on a backbone-type trail with some sharp descents

and some nice ascents. 

Reason 3, the trail really opens you up to the beauty of Whiting Ranch. Most of the beauty is hidden but there are amazing red rock canyons and formations and the ol Billy Goat gets you out of the scrub and into a great spot to view the ginger flavored backcountry.

Finally, it is a great excuse for another installment of ADKinLA cinema!

Mustard Trail Part 1

While I am describing the hike in segments, it is worthwhile to point out that up until this point, you really aren't huffing and puffing too much. Sure Vulture View and the Billy Goat will get the heart rate up your calves won't be screaming uncle. Deciding to go up the Mustard Trail to the overlook is straight up with no break.

It isn't Mt. Baldy or anything but its fascinating that how genteel most of the track is to actually get some significant elevation gain in such a short time. Once you reach a plateau you can keep going on the Mustard Trail until the end of the park or you can do another .3 to the top of the trail, which is the highest accessible point in the park. Accessible is the key word because in 2007, the park suffered through a fire and the evidence of it is everywhere.

Still, the views are impressive at the top and worthwhile for the hike.

Mustard Trail Part 2/Whiting Trail

What goes up must come down and then up again. Heading back to Concourse Park means getting off the mountain travelling along the canyon floor and then hoofing it back up to the 4 Corners. The Whiting Trail also intersects at the 4 Corners and is much more ridge-like but I guarantee to make it out of the canyon, your calves will be feeling it. There are some side trails off of Mustard (a pond trail and a Red Rock Trail) which I didn't take but given the beauty of the red rocks I saw from up high, I suggest taking the Red Rock Trail and seeing where that goes.

Overall I enjoyed this hike. It isn't the most tremendously challenging track and the bike situation is, well a situation but there are great little trails sprinkled throughout and if you are a fan of red rocks, then this place has em in spades.

A place to check out...if you are in the area.

If you want the deets, check out the map: http://www.ocparks.com/uploadgraphics/2008_Whiting_Map(1).pdf


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