Hiking the OC: Bear Canyon

The good thing about the OC is that you don’t really have to go all that far to get into the boondocks. Went hiking yesterday on the Bear Canyon Loop Trail in Cleveland N.F., about a half-hour drive from here with the trailhead just off Ortega Hwy. Ended up being a fun hike. The first 1.5 miles were uphill, exposed, hot, and scrubby. After that, though, the weather cooled down a little and the scenery got better. I dunno. I always go on these hikes and come away feeling like, well, that was sure a nice hike … for Orange County. You know, kind of like Austin is an absolutely fantastic city … for Texas.

Once I got to the mysterious “Four Corners”, where the Bear Canyon trail loop starts heading back to home base, I was a little confused at finding, actually, *five* corners. I guess if the forest rangers coulda done math, they woulda become rocket scientists rather than forest rangers. OTOH, you’d think they’d still be required to be able to count effectively. Meh. From Four corners, I decided to take the Sitton Peak trail, which led me to Bluewater Canyon:

Which in its own right was a little confusing given that it was the only canyon I saw on the hike. And, as you’ve noted, it wasn’t named “Bear Canyon”. Just after this photo of your correspondent was snapped, I came onto this prize:

Hopefully whoever is missing the wing already knows about it. And I guess I was happy not to find the rest of the plane anywhere nearby.

Heading back to base, I took the “Bear Ridge” part of the loop trail back. It was The Big Payoff for the trip, the part that made the whole thing worthwhile — for Orange County. (Note: the hike is technically in Riverside County. And it’s *especially* nice for *Riverside* County.) The ridge gave some nice, broad views over mostly green hills that served to suggest that SoCal might actually once have been a wild, western place. Here’s a token photo:

No idea what it’s of, but the artistry is unquestionable.

On the downhill slope, I finally saw the airplane that I’d heard buzzing above me during the last hour or so of the walk. No pictures, sorry, but it turned out to be a P-51, which made me happy enough to salute. He looped the plane right after that, which I suppose was his return-acknowledgment. He was probably looking for a missing wingflap.

And then about a half mile from the parking lot, I all but stepped on this happy little fellow:

Pretty sure he’s a gopher snake. And a right lazy one at that. Every time I see a snake in California I get kind of excited that it might be a rattlesnake. But every time they end up being just gopher snakes. Maybe it’s for the best.


(Note from 2019: the photos are small. Sorry.)


  • Alex

    If you’d waited around by the wing long enough, you might have ended up in an episode of 24. Jack Bauer needed you, man!

  • bkdunn

    LOL. Well, I’m sort of down with his demise as it turns out. But I guess that goes without saying.