Orange County is a wonderful place to be if you want to stop and smell the flowers this spring. Poppies, lilacs and wild roses are just a few of the floral varieties that can be found blooming throughout the region’s wilderness parks and arboretums. Take a stroll, hike or bike through any of these popular Orange County locales and enjoy the sights and smells of spring in full bloom.
Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park
Foothill Ranch, CA 92610
With 23 trails winding through 3,000 acres of lush hills and canyons, Whiting Ranch is a favorite destination for locals looking to get back to nature. In the spring, the base of Red Rock Canyon is a mosaic of colorful hues of blue, yellow, purple and pink. Spot wildflowers along one of three intermittent streams running through the park. Whiting Ranch is frequented by hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians and is open from 7 a.m. to sunset year-round.
Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary
29322 Modjeska Canyon Road
Modjeska Canyon, CA 92679
Deep in the heart of Modjeska Canyon lies a small, 12-acre nature preserve owned and operated by California State University, Fullerton’s College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. While it serves as a research facility for the university, Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary is also open to the public as a place to learn about Orange County’s wildlife and local canyon habitat. In the spring, visitors can admire the wildflowers while getting an education on the native flora and fauna. Tours are scheduled in advance from Tuesday through Friday and are open to schools and large groups.
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
18751 Laguna Canyon Road
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Imagine yourself on a breezy hillside, knee-deep in bright yellow flowers overlooking the deep blue Pacific Ocean. A short hike into Laguna Coast Wilderness Park may guide you to that perfect place in spring paradise. The park has 40 miles of trails that wind through oak and sycamore woodlands and lead hikers up and down hills and canyons. At each elevation, visitors will have a chance to view different varieties of native plants and flowers such as wild hyacinth, morning glories, popcorn flowers and southern suncups. To learn about what you see on the trail, make a stop at the Nix Nature Center which is open every day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
O’Neill Regional Park
30892 Trabuco Canyon Road
Trabuco Canyon, CA 92678
Spend a little extra time enjoying the flowers at O’Neill Regional Park, which extends through Trabuco and Live Oak Canyons in South Orange County. Campgrounds are available here so you can plan a family weekend around springtime flower gazing. Look for buttercups, poppies and fiddlenecks in the grassy areas and along Trabuco and Hickey Creeks, which generally flow through early spring. When you and your family are not exploring the trails, enjoy the other park amenities such as the barbecues, horseshoe pits and children’s playground.
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1900 Associated Road
Fullerton, CA 92831
For the urban dwellers in Orange County, the arboretum and botanical gardens near California State University, Fullerton are a great place to take a nature walk without having to dig up a dusty pair of hiking boots. Established in 1979, it is the largest botanical garden in Orange County spanning approximately 26 acres. With more than 4,000 plant species in its collection, the arboretum attracts visitors from near and far to its unique and exotic flower displays every spring. Starting last year, arboretum staff began maintaining a California native wildflower garden known as “The Meadow” where visitors can walk through fields of thousands of native wildflowers. The Fullerton Arboretum is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
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Truc Dever is a freelance writer covering all things Orange County. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.