Near Foothill Ranch, California
This park, not unlike others of this sort in Southern California, has oak tree wooded canyons, rolling hills of grassland, and steep slopes covered with coastal chaparral, and it is a great place to hike. What is different is Red Rock Canyon, as you meander through that portion of the park you will be transported to Arizona, Nevada, or Utah- a little bit of canyon lands.
There are quite a few trails and the park is a multi use area for hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders, so you will be sharing the trail.
The park has quite a few mountain lion warnings signs posted as well as on their website and for good reason. In January 2020 a small boy was out in front of a group of adults and a mountain lion grabbed him by the neck. The lion released him when the father threw his backpack at him. The top carnivore exchanged the toddler for the pack and took the backpack up into a tree.
Over a decade and a half ago a mountain biker was killed while stooped over working on his bike. Later that day two women were attacked by the same animal. The cougar had one of them by the head as her friend fought the lion in a deadly game of keep away, foiling the attempt by the predator to drag the woman into the brush. While Orange County Sheriff Deputies were hunting the killer, it turns out that surveillance from an overhead support helicopter, using infrared, spotted the mountain lion on an embankment above the officers hunting them.
Mountain lions are beautiful animals and in most cases you will never know that they are there, but should you encounter one make yourself as large as possible, wave your arms, and shout, throw things at it, let it know you are not prey, and fight back with all you got. Always report any sighting to a Ranger as soon as possible. Mountain lions are ambush killers, will take you from behind and if they get the back of your neck… So use caution, travel in groups, and I carry a big knife. Probably won’t do me any good, but I imagine one having me by the back of the neck and me trying to stab it in the face while trying not to stab myself. Any attack on humans is extremely rare. In most cases they want nothing to do with you. You are not it’s food, and besides they have to pick their battles, an injury to such an animal will keep it from doing it’s job, eating.
We parked at the top of the park off of Santiago Canyon Road and entered at Gate #10. That put us on Whiting Spur Road and which took us to Four Corners, aptly named because from there you have four paths from which to choose. We explored Water Tank Road and then took Mustard Road, which is rated Difficult, to Red Rock Canyon Trail. As I mentioned, this sandstone rock canyon is unusual for this area and was fun to explore. Afterwards we split up as my friend Adam, who is not much of a hiker, took his time continuing downhill taking Borrego Trail not wanting to tackle the climb back out. The plan was I would meet him later in the day at the bottom of the park.
I went on to explore Cattle Pond Loop, just a short side excursion, and then up to Vista Lookout the highest point in the park at 1,500’ for a view of the entire area. Then retraced my steeps, but instead of staying on Mustard Road the entire journey I took Billy Goat Trail, another Difficult route. Billy Goat was a great hike, you know it is a hard trail when you heels aren’t touching as you head up. The trail was up and down and all around with a some switchbacks thrown in for good measure. There was one steep section of trail I was climbing and thankfully I was climbing into the sun or I might not have seen the silhouette of a large spider web with a half dollar sized spider in the middle about face height. After playing darts tossing rocks at it so that I could clear the web, I forged ahead and completed my exploration of this wonderful Park, Whiting Ranch Wilderness.
Thanks for joining Adam and I on this hiking adventure. We enjoyed Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park and need to go back and do some more ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’. For more adventures please COMMENT, FOLLOW, LIKE, and SHARE. For your adventure pleasure please checkout the menu as ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ travels to many different areas and be aware that each site in independent and thus needs to be FOLLOWED individually. I would appreciate it if you checkout SHOP APPAREL, a great place for adventure wardrobe and a place where you can help support PBTA.
Roger Jenkins, ’Pursing Balance Through Adventure’