Celebrate Earth Day with These Kid-Friendly Hikes in Orange County

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22nd. Worldwide, various events are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day events in almost 200 countries around the world are now coordinated by the Earth Day Network.

One of the greatest ways to celebrate Earth Day (or to spend any beautiful day here in Orange County) is to go for a hike in the beauty of nature that is preserved throughout much of our local areas. Plus, hikes are a great way to get outside and enjoy nature along with the whole family.

Here are three hikes in Orange County that are totally kid-friendly:

With beautiful ocean views and a cool ocean breeze, this relatively flat trail is meticulously groomed and makes an easy hike, perfect for the whole family. This trail starts at the Nature Interpretive Center in Dana point and runs adjacent to Strands Beach. Take your time on this hike, enjoying the stunning harbor and ocean views.
Distance: 3 miles/35-40 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Surface: asphalt, concrete, dirt trail
Bonus: Check out the Dana Point Nature Interpretive Center and take part in the many activities and exhibitions.
Parking: There is parking at the Dana Point Nature Interpretive Center at 34558 Scenic Drive or at the public parking lot at Strands Beach. Parking is free and does not require a permit.

This is a well-maintained easy trail near Aliso Viejo that is well-suited for all skill levels. It serves as a great educational opportunity for kids because it features a fossil reef from which Miocene Era dolphins, whales, and other creatures have been recovered. For the best experience, pick a cool day when kids can take their time scouting for finds in the fossil beds. However, be sure to return what you find so that other hikers can enjoy as well.
Distance: 1.4 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Surface: dirt trail
Bonus: Fossils are abundant here. While walking, check the rocks on the ground around you. There is also a longer, 3.1-mile hike along the same trail, with a different route and starting point, if you’d like to go for a little bit longer. You can read more at AllTrails.com.
Parking: You can park on Laguna Hills Drive near Sheep Hills Park. Walk toward Sheep Hills Park and follow the Aliso Creek Trail heading south. After passing under the Moulton Parkway Bridge there will be a sign for the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. Look for a sign with Pectin Loop Trail.

This trail is full of natural beauty. Flat and great for strollers and wheelchairs, the pleasant walk leads to the Carbon Canyon Regional Park’s beautiful Redwood Grove, offering a special feature for adventurous hikers, bird watchers, and other nature enthusiasts. Naturalist-guided tours and group talks are offered throughout the year by appointment through the park office. A trail guide is available at the park office for self-guided nature walks.
Distance: 2.4 miles round trip
Difficulty: Easy
Surface: dirt trail
Bonus: The undeveloped area features a trail that leads to Orange County’s only grove of redwoods; 3 acres of majestic Coastal Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens).
Parking: $3 per vehicle, Monday – Friday. $5 Saturday – Sunday. Higher for some holidays and events

If you would like to go to an event on Earth Day (either instead of or in addition to a hike), check out Orange Coast Magazine’s list of 10 Earth Day Events in Orange County.

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