Tag Archives: Crystal Cove State Park

THAT’S NOT A STICK! THAT’S A RATTLESNAKE!

BOMMER RIDGE-OLD EMERALD AND OLD EMERALD CANYON TRAILS LOOP

LAGUNA COAST WILDERNESS

Activity: Day Hike

7 miles, 912’ elevation gain, 3.5 hour duration, rated Moderate

Date: 8-17-20

I was enjoying a lovely Summer hike in the South Coast Wilderness, which is made up of multiple County and State Parks. This is my go to area that is close to where I live and a splendid place to hike.

I was walking along looking at my phone and reviewing the course that I was taking on my Hiking APP. Yes, I know that is a good way to trip, fall, walk of a cliff, into quicksand, a bear trap, a ravine or any number of bad predicaments. Add another to that list… I look down, half paying attention and I am about to step on what looks like a stick stretched out across my path. Suddenly I realize THAT’S NOT A STICK! THAT’S A RATTLESNAKE!  I alerted some approaching mountain bikers and we watched the poisonous viper slither off into the underbrush. 

Being an Adventure Blogger I have now run into numerous venomous vipers and this was a big’n! Thank goodness I looked down when I did and that I was at least paying half attention.

I have learned from some research that Rattlesnakes maybe vicious mindless killers, but that is towards their prey, and they want nothing to do with man. They aren’t lying in wait to attack you and they don’t hunt or chase after you. What you do not want to do with any wild animal is corner or threaten it, because that is when you might find that you have more on your hands then you bargained for. Most snakebites happen when a person is going after the snake, which could include a snake handler. Also snakebites can occur when a person has accidentally stepped on it. The snake I saw was big, but actually the younger, smaller rattlesnakes are the most deadly. This might seem surprising, but the truth of the matter is the juveniles do not know how much venom to use so they use it all. The adult snake has learned to use just enough to get the job done and not waste it’s resources. 

The rattlesnake may or may not alert you to it’s presence with that famous rattle. If you hear that rattle then it is probably in a coiled, striking position. But like I said it may not even rattle. A seminar I attended said that this trait of rattling maybe getting engineered out of their bein. A snake rattling maybe attacked and killed by a farmer where if it did not rattle then they may never know that they are in the area.  The rattler gets killed, but the silent snake lives on and reproduces. That is called natural selection. It hardly seems fair, that the snake doesn’t warn you.

The first big rattlesnake I saw was in Las Vegas. I had a pretty good idea where on the trail it was after I heard screams and I could see up on the mountain where the hikers were fleeing. Even after the report from the hikers as well as tossing stones into the brush did not get the snake to rattle. Plus it blended in perfectly with the bush it was under which was basically right on the tiny trail. I did not see it until it was within striking distance and it scared the living daylights out of me, no rattle, no warning, but thankfully no strike.

If you are wondering if it might be snake season a rule of thumb to whether snakes maybe out is if you see lizards on the trail then the snakes are active as well. Snakes are cold blooded so at temperatures below 60 degrees they are slow and temperatures above 95 could kill them. They are most active in Spring and Fall and during the morning and evening. In the Summer during the heat of the day they would rather find a cool spot such as underground. So pay attention, watch where you step, where you sit, and where you put your hands. 

Back to the hike. As I have said in the past, the great thing about hiking this area is there are a lot of trails so that you can piece together the type of hike that you are up for that day. Today’s hike was moderate in length, elevation gain, and exercise. It provided great views of the surrounding terrain that included the hills and canyons of Laguna Coast Wilderness as well as Crystal Cove State Park, the mountains off in the distance and the blue tranquil Pacific down below. Great place to hike, keep an eye peeled for snakes.

Besides almost becoming a victim the other thing that stood out about this adventure was I met a young mountain biker and his Dad on a steep section of the trail. They were enjoying their day together out tackling the rolling hills of Laguna Coast Wilderness. The 10 year old boy was doing a great job. This was his last hoorah before having to buckle down and hit the books again as he began the 5th Grade. Good stuff! Good day.

Checkout the video of the Rattler that I almost stepped on.
Look how when it is not moving it resembles the nearby stick. But “That is No Stick! That’s a Rattlesnake!
“Everyone knew that you should never provoke a Rattlesnake, must less tie it in a bow. But that didn’t stop Judd. What did stop him was the rattlesnake.” – Demetri Martin

When I said that ‘Pursing Balance Through Adventure’ was about profound experiences in nature having a close call with a deadly rattlesnake is not exactly what I had in mind. This is just a reminder that no matter how much we love nature, it does not mean that nature is going to love us back. When you are out in the wilderness, just like navigating life, you need to be aware, and with that awareness you can enjoy your experience in nature more safely and find that balance between our busy, crazy, hurry up existence and offset that with the beauty and adventure of nature. For more adventure and profound experiences join me right here by leaving a LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW and SHARE. For more spots to choose from please check out the menu above for many more outings throughout the West. Each is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. Why not pick up some top quality Adventure Wear with the PBTA logo at SHOP APPAREL?

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

“Bloomer” Trail

BOMMER RIDGE TRAIL – OLD EMERALD ROAD TRAIL

LAGUNA COAST WILDERNESS PARK

CRYSTAL COVE STATE PARK

Activity: Day Hike

8.5 miles, 1160’ elevation gain, 4 hour duration, rated Moderate

6-11-21

On this mid June day I nicknamed Bommer Ridge Trail “Bloomer” Trail. The prickly pear cactus are in bloom and it made the hike very special. I first came upon the delightful sight along Bommer Ridge Trail, but the very best blooms, as I took the loop clockwise, was on Old Emerald Road Trail, past the oak grove at the bottom of the hike. As I worked my way up the hillside there was a large garden of the prickly pear cactus stock full of blooms.

I always prefer a loop hike to just out and back. I love to see as much territory as possible and it beats just back tracking. Bommer Ridge Trail afforded wonderful views of the entire area, the mountains such as Saddleback and others farther off in the distance, the canyon below, as well as the Pacific and even glimpses of Catalina Island through the rising coastal fog. I dropped down Old Emerald Trail which quickly took an Easy hike and bumped it up a notch to Moderate. It was a somewhat steep descent and of course what goes down has to climb back out so it was a nice workout.

Old Emerald Falls Trail from the bottom of the hike climbs into Moro Ridge Road and from there I opted to do the Fence Line Trail which I love as it winds around on a small single track which is mostly for mountain bikes so listen for them while on this trek. When the mountain bike route runs it’s course then its back on Boomer or in this case “Bloomer” Ridge Trail and back to the trailhead.

Life is like a cactus thorny but beautiful.

Thanks for joining me on “Bloomers” Trail ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’. The cactus flowers were wonderful and what a great way to find a little balance in ones life by getting exercise, breathing fresh air, taking in the sight of canyon, mountain, ocean, island, and of course the star of this episode the blooming cactus flower. Join me next time by leaving a COMMENT, LIKE, FOLLOW and SHARE. If you go up to the menu near the top of the page you will find more adventures to behold in many areas of the West. Each is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. Top quality PBTA branded adventure wear can be obtained at SHOP APPAREL. There is a 30% OFF FATHER’S DAY SPECIAL on all PBTA Cotton Tee’s. Simply message me with your order to score the SPECIAL DEAL.

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

CRYSTAL PEAK PARK LOOP

CRYSTAL COVE STATE PARK

Activity: Day Hike

7 miles, 1,115’ elevation change, 3.5 hours duration, rated Difficult

Date: 7-21-20

As I have mentioned in previous posts regarding Crystal Cove State Park this is my local hike, a great training area for upcoming adventures, but it is more than that as it is a stand alone great place to hike.  It has so many positives: Pacific Ocean views, Catalina views, even San Clemente Island can be spotted on a clear day.  Then there are the mountain ranges inland including nice views of Saddle Back.  

The Park’s strength is there are lots of trails to mix and match. I invite you to browse through my Crystal Cove State Park hikes because they are all wonderful with subtle changes in views, and terrain so checkout the difficulty and length of the hike which will help you choose what is right for you on any given day.  

Crystal Peak Park Loop has some good distance and elevation changes and is rated difficult.  It starts at the top of the park and I decided to do the loop clockwise, be forewarned this puts the steepest section of the hike downhill which although this makes it easier cardio wise it can be tricky maneuvering steep slippery sections.

The trek starts on “Boomer Ridge Trail” which runs the length of the upper portion of Crystal Cove State Park. From there you will take “Slow n’ Easy.”  Don’t be fooled by the name, while you certainly should take it slow, because of the footing, there is nothing Easy about it.  This portion puts the Difficult in this hike. Slow n Easy will dump you out on “Morro Canyon Trail” which is, besides the fantastic vistas looking out to sea and towards the mountains, my favorite part of the park.  A stroll through the shady oak grove is a welcome respite from the beating sun during the summer. Take a turn on to “Poles” it will transfer you up to “Pacific Ridge Trail” which has fabulous views looking out over the canyon and the ocean blue beyond.  This trail will take you back up the Westside of Crystal Cove State Park back to beginning.  Great hike!

Besides the beautiful vistas of the ocean, canyon and distant mountains- the bottom of the canyon is my favorite featuring a delightful and cooling stroll through a lovely oak grove.
Nature, cheaper than therapy.

Nature is the answer… it doesn’t matter what the question is. Nature can bring peace of mind, make you forget your woes, provide a needed break, reduce the stress and anxiety of our crazy work a day schedule, and bring some meaning into an otherwise mundane boring week. We all need to rebalance from time to time and what a great way to do it in the pursuit, and it is a pursuit… a journey if you will… towards balance. Perfect balance is unattainable, but we can certainly strive towards that Shangri-La. Get out into nature! Get out there and adventure! ‘Pursing Balance Through Adventure’ is good for what ails you, it cleanses the soul. Let’s stay in touch on this trek toward balance: LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW and SHARE. Like my hat? It’s yours. Want the shirt off my back? Done. Just go to SHOP APPAREL and lay your money down and you will be sporting top quality adventure wear with the theme we need to shout from the mountain tops “Pursuing Balance Through Adventure!” Need help finding a mountain top? Go to the Menu above for all of the special places that PBTA travels to. Each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently.

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

MOUNTAIN BIKING CRYSTAL COVE

CRYSTAL COVE STATE PARK

NEWPORT COAST

Activity: Mountain Biking

This blog is mostly about hiking, there is not a lot of backpacking in Orange County, but there is a lot of mountain biking, so this post is about that. There is some great mountain biking in the OC and Crystal Cove is a super spot with about 24 miles or so of trails that range from beginner to expert.

Crystal Cove State Park is the county’s largest open space with 2,400 acres of wilderness and beach. It is available from 6 AM to Dusk.

Crystal Cove is basically a coastal canyon with splendid views from up top, as well as from the ridges. Phenomenal visions of the magical blue Pacific and sweet views of Catalina Island reward those ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure.’ On a clear day San Clemente Island juts out of the ocean as a pleasant surprise since you don’t always see it.

The Park’s vegetation is mostly coastal chaparral some of which is pretty dense other spots are dry and rugged. In the bottom of the deep canyon is a wonderful grove of oak to provide some nice shade to an otherwise pretty sunny place.

There are big broad double track fire road paths that gain and loose elevation almost like you were on a programmed piece of gym equipment, but you are out enjoying the environment for a natural workout. Mountain bikers will get a good thigh burn climbing, and on the long descending stretches will really blast off, but be cognizant of the many hikers.

There are not as many single track trails, but they are fun and will leave you with a grin from ear to ear, as you weave like a snake, (by the way, keep an eye peeled for rattlesnakes), through the chaparral. When you’re doing all of this weaving just make sure you lean to the inside especially when there is a patch of cactus to the outside.

Crystal Cove State Park has a good community of nature lovers. Other mountain bikers are happy to provide trail information. Hikers are generous to step off the trail and let a biker by. Hikers and bikers alike greet each other with a friendly smile and a wave.

The other day I was winding along single track and a more advanced rider caught me from behind. I felt the need to push it since he was right on my 6, but he made sure to let me know to take my time, be safe, and that it’s all good.

Crystal Cove is a fabulous place to feel like you are out in nature and provides a little taste of wilderness, especially when you are down in the canyon portion with hills all around. If you think about it- that is pretty special when you are pretty much smack dab in the thriving metropolis of Newport and Laguna Beach.

That being said, the weekends can get pretty busy as this is a popular spot and with the pandemic it seems that hiking and biking are now one of the favorite activities instead of crowded gyms.

A cool thing about this area is that you can easily connect it to other nearby wilderness parks such as Laguna Coast Wilderness, Boomer Canyon, and Irvine Open Space which would then give you a net work of more than 50 miles of trail.

Thanks for joining my sailing and mountain biking buddy Steve and I on our mountain biking adventures at Crystal Cove, fun times to be sure! What a place to spend a couple hours, and as often as possible. I did not talk about individual trails, but if you go back and look at ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure- Orange County Hiking“ and review posts that concern Crystal Cove you will find pictures and stories regarding individual routes: No Name Ridge/Mach One/Boomer Ridge is one such trek, No Name Ridge/No Dogs/Moro Canyon/W. Cut Across/Rattlesnake/Red Tail/Boomer Ridge is another, No Name Ridge/Ticketron/Deer Canyon/Red Tail Ridge/Boomer Ridge Loop is a variation with some other trails mixed in. You can see the whole idea is there are a lot of different trails at Crystal Cove so you can mix and match trails depending on the difficulty you are seeking as well as how long you would like to ride. Keep in mind they are from a hiking prospective, but most of the hiking trails are also mountain biking trails. Conversely some of the popular single track mountain biking sections you will find hikers on them.

Hey do you like the logo performance gear in my picture? Need a technical sports shirt, hat, or face gator? Then virtually bike on over to SHOP APPAREL.

‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ seeks shelter from this crazy world of ours and some peace by experiencing soulful spots all over the West. Checkout the menu above for a compass pointing to Adventure. If you enjoyed this post then please LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW, and SHARE.

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Crystal Cove State Park

LAGUNA COAST WILDERNESS PARK

Activity: Hiking

Distance 8.5 miles, approximately 1,300’ elevation change, duration 4 hours, rated Moderate

Date: 12/16/19

NO NAME RIDGE/NO DOGS/MORO CANYON/W. CUT ACROSS/RATTLESNAKE/RED TAIL/BOMMER RIDGE

Wow, that is a crazy long name for a hike. I should just call it every trail on the East side of the park. Crystal Cove is a great place to hike with 2400 acres of undeveloped land and more than 15 miles of trails that encompasses every level. As I have done in this hike, you can really mix and match different trails to how long, how far, how hard of a hike that you desire. As a matter of a fact if you want a shorter version of this hike see another of my posts on Crystal Cove State Park. This is a great destination on it’s own, but it is one of the closest really good hikes near me and a great place to train for adventures elsewhere.

No Name Ridge Road and No Dogs Road are big broad trails with nice views from the top and on the way down from the baseball field and little park above, where you will find of plenty of free parking. As you make your way down this trail, which takes you to the bottom of the State Park, you will enjoy wonderful views of the deep blue Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island on the horizon. On a clear day, like I had on this hike, San Clemente Island will be visible as well. Once you are at the bottom of the park you wrap around and hook up with Moro Canyon Road. This is the middle and lowest portion of the canyon, where you will find some spots with a little shade. Be prepared that the majority of the park has very little shade, and bring sufficient water for your day. From Moro Canyon Rd you will take the West Cut Across to access Rattlesnake Trail, which will give you more of a nature feel as you transition from the big broad roads to more of a path and portions will be a little on the steep side. Pay attention as there are some cool rock formations about 3/4 of the way off to the left which will be marked with a little sign. Rattlesnake empties to Red Tail Road and on to Boomer Ridge Road that will take you back to the start of the hike.

Very fun hike.

“Hiking is like Chicken Soup for your Soul.” -Roger Jenkins
Pursuing Balance Through Adventure 

Hike, hike, hike… it’s good for you. So that you can continue to be “Pursuing Balance Through Adventure“ with me please take the time to FOLLOW, COMMENT, LIKE, and SHARE. Check the menu above for so many splendid places you can set yourself free in. Each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. Help yourself to a shirt or cap like mine at SHOP APPAREL.

See you out on the trail,

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Crystal Cove State Park

No Name Ridge/Ticketron/Deer Canyon/Red Tail Ridge/Bommer Ridge Loop

South Coast Wilderness

Near Newport Beach

Activity: Day Hike

Date: October 2019

Distance: 3.7 miles, 583’ elevation change, 90 minute duration, rated Easy

Crystal Cove is my Goto hike. It is in close proximity to my home, it boasts stupendous blue Pacific and Catalina Island views, pleasant coastal canyons, rambling hills, oak tree groves infused with fairy-tale light, and a good amount of elevation change.

I have hiked all of the trails in Crystal Cove State Park and mountain biked on a bunch of them as well. The cool thing is with all the trails in this park you can really mix and match what you are up for that day. You can decide on how steep, how long, how much time, if you want to see the top, if you want to see the bottom, which has a great beach, the middle portion has a coastal canyon, wide trails or hardly a trail, and parts of the park are more remote than others. There are some very fun mountain bike runs, and there are some pretty hard ones as well.

Then if that is not exciting enough at the top of the park, which is where I usually launch from, is right where three different portions of the South Coast Wilderness come together: Crystal Cove State Park, City of Irvine Open Space Preserve, and Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. So lots of choices.

The hike that I did was just what I was feeling for that Fall day. Not too long, not too short, not difficult, but there is one steep section that will get your heart pumping, scenic, and part of it is more remote. It goes from wide open broad fire road to single track with brush that is sometimes over groan, but most of the time the park keeps everything pretty ship shape. There is a smooth rock area that has a little opening which is fun to poke your head in. Something a little unusual. There are two spots in the park that can be camped at and Deer Canyon, which my hike took me past, is one of them. This could be a good place for a first time backpacking overnighted.

Crystal Cove State Park is a good playground for those who want to stretch their legs, get some fresh air in their lungs, and shake off the world for a little bit, and of course train for other outings. In other words it is a good spot to be ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’.

Hiking is the answer. Who cares what the question is.

When you cannot get into the backcountry, to the fir trees, to the mountains, to the lonely desert, you still need to get somewhere, and local hikes that are still fun, enjoyable, with open space, and nature fit the bill. Besides if you aren’t doing smaller training hikes then those epic adventures are going to be rough. Thanks for joining me on such as hike at Crystal Cove State Park while ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure. Now you should COMMENT, LIKE, SHARE, and FOLLOW. If you need hiking-adventure-workout-casual ware then I got just the place for you: SHOP APPAREL which is also how you can support this blog.

Happy Trails,

Roger Jenkins, Pursuing Balance Through Adventure