Oak Canyon Nature Center
6700 E Walnut Canyon Road, Anaheim, CA 92807
I was startled by my shrill 6:30 alarm on Wednesday morning. I had to be on Memorial Lawn by 7:30 a.m. to take a photo for my magazine production class. Normally, I wake up as late as possible, and usually never before 10 a.m., but today I decided to take advantage of being up early (and not having class until 4 p.m.) to get out in nature and take a hike. The closest natural area that I hadn’t been to was Oak Canyon Nature Center. The center appeals to families, kids, hikers and anyone else who likes to get out in nature.
There are multiple trails at Oak Canyon Nature Center with varying difficulties for hikers, walkers or runners. When I visited, I couldn’t find a trail map, so instead, I wandered around exploring the different trails. However, there is a map online that you can load on your phone before you go.
Unfortunately, they don’t allow bikers, horseback riders or pets (except for service animals). It seemed like this area is meant for learning about and exploring different aspects of wildlife here in Orange County.
My friend and I started on the main trail and were on our way to the more advanced trails when we passed the John J. Collier Interpretive Center and the Amphitheater. The Interpretive Center was unfortunately closed when we went, but according to their website, it is a “small museum with live animal and regional natural history exhibits” and is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. We also passed the Amphitheater which can be rented for weddings or other events.
We continued our walk along the main road, which was wide and, for the most part, flat. There were multiple bridges which crossed over a small stream, and we followed the stream up the main road until we decided to move over to the Quail trail. The Quail trail was a bit more difficult, and was steeper than the main road. At the main road, the Stream trail and the Quail trail are surrounded by many tall trees which make for lovely, shady trails. We took the Quail trail until it lead us to the Roadrunner Ridge trail.
However, when we started on Roadrunner Ridge trail, it became sunnier as we hiked up and eventually we traversed the side of a desolate hill. The hike up to the hills was slightly more strenuous than the other trails leading to Roadrunner Ridge, and was also in the direct sunlight which made it feel more difficult.
Once we got past the initial incline of Roadrunner Ridge, we were walking a narrow trail on the side of a hill. The trail, which made me feel like I was going to fall off of a mountain, weaved around multiple different hills for the majority of the rest of our hike, and we realized the trail was bringing us back toward the direction of the car. On our way down, we saw cliffs that had huge holes eroded out of them, which are labeled “C” on the trail map.
After we had descended from Roadrunner Ridge trail, it merged into Heritage trail and we found the part of the center directed toward families with young children. There was the Heritage Butterfly Garden (where we didn’t really see any butterflies) and a playground of wildlife structures for kids.
Erin Hakes, a sophomore integrated educational studies major who also visited the center, said, “There were signs written for kids about butterflies. You could tell it was very family-friendly. The hike wasn’t that hard either, so it’s perfect for children and others who aren’t experienced hikers.”
The hike that I went on lasted about 45 minutes and was enjoyable, but not very challenging. The trails were well kept, the nature was beautiful and I highly recommend taking time to visit. Check out their website for more information.
- Open seven days a week sunrise to sunset, but the parking gate is locked at 5 p.m.
- Interpretive Center hours: Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
- No pets
- No horseback riding
- No biking
- Stay on the trails