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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Oak Canyon Nature Center

I had the opportunity to go on a hike with my home school group this past week. We decided to try a different park and so we decided on Oak Canyon Nature Center. It is locate at 6700 Walnut Canyon Road in Anaheim. Now this is a 58-acre natural park nestled in Anaheim Hills. There are four miles of hiking trails and this park has one of the few remaining areas of oak woodland and coastal sage scrub in our region as well as many black walnut trees. Native wildlife makes the canyon their home and is just waiting to be discovered. Also located on site is the John J. Collier Interpretive Center, a small museum with live animal and regional natural history exhibits. And before I forget, it is free parking.

Our kids started out by the John J. Collier Interpretive Center which had a small man made creek flowing around the building. The kids thought this was an awesome place to play. So while they were playing there we sat on some benches by a small stage and talked while they had fun. We had no idea that as we traveled farther on our hike we would come across some of the most beautiful natural creeks and water falls I have seen living in So. California. As well as caves and some great birds and plants for our nature studies

As our hike started I realized that bringing the stroller for my 3 year old might have been a mistake. Yes we made it up the hill side to the caves, which I will come back to. But it was not exactly easy. Now there may be easier trails to take a stroller, but the one we took was a decent hike up the hill side. It took us about 30 minutes to get to the caves. Be careful, there are no hand rails so keep the kids away from the edge. It is quit a drop. But the kids with us ranged from 3 to 8 years old so we did not have a problem.

Once at the top by the caves, we had to stay and play for a good 30 minutes, so make sure to bring that sun block and water. There is no shade there waiting for you but this is a great time for mom and dad to have a seat and watch the kids have good old fashion fun. These caves are only about 6-8 feet deep, but boy oh boy did these kids enjoy playing around in them and making up stories of all the different animals that live in them.

Once we were done there we decided not to go any further up the hillside and to head on down. This is where we ran into the creeks, rivers and waterfalls running throughout the park. Now I have to give a big WARNING right here. Poison Oak is all over the place. Everywhere we looked there it was with it’s leaves of three and it’s colors of green and crimson. Because most of the kids with us were boys…says enough on it‘s own… and because of their young age, we had to constantly remind them to not touch or be careful. But this did not stop us or the kids in playing in the rivers and waterfalls. Was it worth all the worry about the poison Oak? Yup. My kids had the most fun they have had at a park in a while.

As of the writing of this review none of the moms or their kids got poison Oak. I thought for sure I had it, since my son fell in the creek and I had to sit down on a few leaves of poison oak to get him out. But my butt never started itching. YEA! Although by the time we got back to our original spot, one of the other moms and myself had imaginary itches all over. But, as soon as we all watched our hands we were good. It was all in our heads. So I would say, if your careful, stay on the path, keep your eyes peeled and know what to look for, you should be fine.

We spent about 3 ½ hours at the Oak Canyon Nature Center. There was not one of us who was not tired but invigorated by the experience we had. We, who live here in Orange County, California, do not get the same benefits as those who live more in the countryside. We loose touch with the world around us that was formed by the almighty. It is nice to know that we can step out of our busy, bustling life once in a while and go to a place like this to re-connect with this beautiful nature that was created for us.

I give this park a 8 out of 10. Why? Well I had to take a few points off for the stroller and the poison Oak. I loved the park, but I did not like the fact that I had to worry so much about the poison Oak. However, this is a natural park not a man preserved park and we have to keep that in consideration when we visit Oak Canyon Nature Center. Oh, and please remember, do not pick up rocks and plants to take home with you. Respect the natural habitat please. Bring your camera and take pictures of things you want to remember or look up as well as to freeze-frame those precious moments. Oh, and no pets are allowed.

Here is their site to allow you to stroll around and look at all they have to offer, They have facility rentals, family programs, many special programs as well as special events and tours. Check it out.

Thanks to my dear friend Kathy for allowing me to post this video of her! You'll get a great laugh!!!

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