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Laguna Beach is Southern California's premier seaside destination, midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. A year-round retreat for art lovers, nature enthusiasts and beach goers, Laguna Beach features seven miles of soft sand and surf.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Family Hike

Last Sunday when the morning fog was still resting on the hills, my family and I headed out on a hike to Barbara's Lake in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park . We started at the trail head at the James Dilley Preserve entrance where we were greeted by a friendly Laguna Canyon Foundation volunteer. The Foundation is dedicated to preserving, protecting and enhancing the wilderness park by maintaining trails, offering guided hikes, educational programs, and much more.

At the welcome center we found information about the park and the plant and animal life that live there. The kids decided the most interesting part was the handout on animal droppings. Although they got a real kick out of the title, "Dropping Clues!" they ended up learning a lot. By the end of the hike, they were able to identify coyote, racoon and rabbit droppings that were found along the trail. They discovered that it meant those were the animals that lived in that particular area of the park.  Along the trail we also came across quite a few stink bugs, nearly 20 in total. The kids were like little naturalists in training as they observed the bugs’ behavior.

What else did they observe on our hike?

Snakes and what we think were gopher holes.

Black Sage - I showed the kids how to rub the sage between their fingers to bring out the scent. (I learned this on a previous guided hike that I took in Laguna Canyon with a naturalist. You can read about it HERE. )

My daughter loved seeing and smelling the fragrances of several varieties of wild flowers.

Once we reached the lake the sun had come through and we started to feel the heat. Thank goodness for the cool shade from the oaks and other trees surrounding the waters edge. We took refuge in the shade and rested after our hike and before heading back. Of course the kids didn't want to rest and continued exploring. They found a lizard sunbathing on a tree branch, dragonflies, and even a small turtle.

This mostly flat and approximately two-mile hike was a refreshing way to start our Sunday and a great way to spend quality time with my family. As Orange County’s only naturally occurring fresh water lake, Barbara’s Lake is another MUST SEE Laguna Beach location.

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
Open Daily 7am to Sunset
$3 parking
Barbara’s Lake is accessible from the James Dilley entrance and the Nix Nature Center

As Laguna Coast Wilderness Park's new headquarters, Nix Nature Center is the gateway for outdoor enthusiasts to explore a vast network of linked trails throughout the 20,000-acre South Coast Regional Wilderness. The Nature Center's windows frame four main views into the surrounding parklands, challenging visitors of all ages to consider the wilderness from various perspectives. An easy loop trail just outside the Center encourages visitors to appreciate the park's natural beauty. Restrooms with changing tables, drinking fountains, picnic tables, free maps and nature-oriented merchandise are available on-site.

For a map of trails click HERE.

 By Anne-Marie S.

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