Covid Chronicles, Home is Were the Hike is
Travel has been paused but that doesn’t mean you can’t have adventure. You just have to have a little imagination and, if your lucky, some hillsides in your backyard. Luckily for me, my back yard is full of hills. Some of it is covered with houses with some set aside as a nature preserve. Just a two minute drive from my home is the Weir Canyon Nature Preserve atop the hills overlooking suburbia.
The Weir Canyon Loop Trail would by my goal today but it’s less than four miles and too short for my taste. Santiago Oaks Regional Park happens to be right next door so I combined the two parks to total seven miles for my hike this morning. Santiago Oaks consists of many little trails and I chose a small portion of it nearest to Weir Canyon as my route.
The Weir Canyon Loop Trailhead also has access to Santiago Oaks so I parked in front of the trailhead. To the right of the trailhead is a gated access road which you can go around and this would be the start of my hike. I passed the gate and then took the dirt trail to the right, Weir Canyon Trail, which would take me into Santiago Oaks. I followed this trail with hillside homes to my right and the open landscape to the left. After a short walk, I came to Deer Trail, my favorite part of the park. I made my way down the little canyon which was surrounded by wild flowers. The winding path through the hills makes for a good challenge and the trail is aptly named as I’ve previously seen deer along this trail.
The elevation had made me work up a sweat as I made my way up the other side of the trail so I took a break on boulder that overlooked the park. It was time for some iconic hiking photos. The break was over and I made my way up to the top of the hill. This would be a crossroads for the hikers and mountain bikers who venture out to the park.
In one direction, you could go further into the park and to the right would take you back toward the homes. I followed Barham Ridge Trail until I reached the Anaheim Hills Riding Trail as I followed that back down to the Weir Canyon Trail. I made my way back toward that gated road where I had started. I crossed that gate again as I exited and ended the Santiago Oaks portion of my itinerary.
I made a hard right and entered the Weir Canyon portion of my hike. The hillside was still overgrown with grass and weeds which will soon disappear in the hot summer of southern California. As I worked my way through the trail, I noticed more wildlife here. Wild rabbits and lizards crisscrossed the trail in front of me. Then, I noticed something in the trail. From a distance, it appeared to be a branch but as I got closer I noticed a pattern covering it. It was the scales of a snake that was soaking up the warmth of the sun and blocking my path. It was a common gopher snake and I was relieved it wasn’t a rattle snake. So, I tried to scare it away by yelling at it but it wouldn’t move. I had to resort to throwing small rocks at it. This did the trick and the snake slithered across the trail and into the bushes. I continued along the trail ascending the small hills of the reserve. I stopped along a cliff to catch my breath and recharge with a protein bar and some Gatorade. It’s a spot I often rest at because of the wonderful view and this time it had a small patch of California Poppies. In some years, Southern California experiences super blooms of these wild flowers.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t one of those years but this cliff had a small patch and I took advantage of it. It was time to pick myself up and continue through the back half of the Weir Canyon Loop as it approached neighboring homes. The trail started to incline as it headed toward the highest portion of the park. As you reach that point, you’ll notice a wonderful view of the homes below and from the other side is an amazing view of the hills you just hiked through.
I took the opportunity to take some more photos of that view before I continued on. It was all down hill from here back to the trailhead.
The beauty of the trail wasn’t over as I passed through a patch of tall flowers. I made it, I was at the end of my hike with no room to spare as the heat had reached a level which would have made hiking very difficult. If your not an avid hiker and would like a shorter hike, you can do each portion separately. The Weir Canyon Loop is just under four miles and the Santiago Oaks section is three miles. This was my third hike during my week long vacation during the pandemic.
The stay at home order has forced me to look at what I have and it has reminded me why I love living where I do. Yes, I would rather spend my vacation time exploring the world but Covid19 has put a pause to that. One thing travelers have learned along their time of exploration is respect. And, what I’ve seen is that we (travelers) have respected others by staying at home, respecting other’s safety. It makes me proud to be a part of this community. It’s tougher to find an outlet for your need for adventure without leaving your area.
Time will pass and I’ll be traveling again, creating life long memories. But, by the end of these trips, I’ll look forward to my return home as I’ve actually have in the past. The consequences of the pandemic has reminded me that world is full of amazing places, and, my home is one of those places.