Let’s be clear. I don’t like Lake Forest CA, Rancho Santa Margarita CA. Nothing against the people that live there, grew up there, work there etc. I personally don’t care for it. There are other Southern California cities I avoid like the plague but we’ll get into that later. The whole structure of that inland/south county area gives me the creeps. The houses are identical, the cars are identical I always start humming that “Little Boxes” song whenever we go through there.
HOWEVER! Nestled in all of the cookie cutter McMansions lies the Whiting Ranch Wilderness park.
Don’t look it up on your iPhones map app. It will get you lost. Trust me I did it twice.
Instead you want to search for Market Pl & Portola Pkwy
Foothill Ranch, CA 92610
As you get closer you will see the less traveled, less used parking lot and entrance to the park. Parking is $3-$5 an you pay at a friendly computer operated human free booth. Perfection.
We had our oldest and his best friend with us, the little mice were with their dad and his fiancé and as Brayden pointed out it was a good thing they weren’t there. This trail ended up being quite the challenge, our youngest would have been over it a mile in. We took the all uphill trail (who’s name escapes me) to four points where there promised to e water. On our way up we passed a friendly shaded sleepy hollow trail that was a mini canyon of Oak trees and dried river beds, a welcome sight after the cacti and sun. We hiked on passed it, Brayden’s friend said he was going to die. I told him he wasn’t allowed to because his mom would be mad at me.
We finally hit the four corners, the breeze was amazing, the view fairly awesome for being ensconced in hills that stucco homes pressed in on.
We started back down this time taking Cactus Ridge to Sleepy Hollow and our spirits were restored (fueled by the downhill momentum, water and promise of shade).
Roughly 5.5 miles, 1500 calories later we were back at the car.
While it wasn’t my favorite hike I can see it being one that we do with the big kids again in the fall and winter.