The Endless Blue
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The Endless Blue

Hiking in Laguna Canyon

Photo by J.S. Lender © 2022

WITH THE PANDEMIC CONTINUING to rip through California unchallenged, I am presented with a very limited set of choices — stay in the house or explore nature. Although surfing is a big part of my life, there’s only so much paddling and duck diving and getting smashed on the head by waves that I can handle. Besides, surfers are always at the mercy of the ocean’s conditions, and no waves = no surfing.

Photo by J.S. Lender © 2022

I set out to find some worthy hiking spots in Orange County, CA. I started by exploring a few trails in Silverado Canyon. I brought my eight-year-old daughter to O’Neill Park earlier this month and we found some fun bike trails and hiking trails. But when we made our way to the far end of the park to hike a well-shaded trail, a mountain biker met us at the trailhead. He stopped his bike and politely told us to find somewhere else to hike. A cougar had just been spotted around the corner. Cougars have been seen in and around Silverado Canyon since I was a kid.

So, it was goodbye Silverado Canyon and hello Laguna Canyon. I have been taking my kids hiking in Laguna Canyon for many years and I was familiar with a good portion of the trails. Through some trial and error, I have found the Laurel Canyon trail to be among the best. Although there are some steep inclines, the Laurel Canyon trail is not overly challenging. It is a quiet and peaceful trail with a good amount of open space, surrounded by magnificent boulders and mountains. The trail runs about two miles in length each way, and a good portion of the trail is shaded.

Photo by J.S. Lender © 2022

After you stomp through the first quarter mile, the trail narrows and the only sound you will hear are the rummaging of squirrels and birds, and perhaps the occasional bobcat. A rock formation I like to call Smiley Face Rock will be there to offer its greetings just before you enter the more challenging portion of the trail.

Photo by J.S. Lender © 2022

There’s a waterfall about halfway up the trail, although I have never seen any water flowing there. Last week I was sitting at the edge of the waterfall when a couple walked up and informed me that an old Volkswagen had somehow crashed off the cliff way back when The Love Boat was still gracing TV screens in primetime all across America. The couple said the car was still lying in the dry creek bed below. And sure enough, when I leaned over as far as I could, I caught a glimpse of an old and lonely engine just plopped down there in the creek, waiting to be discovered. I have absolutely no idea how it found its way down there. Was it a Volkswagen? I couldn’t tell.

Past the waterfall, the cool and shady trail continues to wind through some amazingly old and impressive trees. The trail is covered by a good amount of dirt that is so soft and fine that it appears to be ancient beach sand.

The Laurel Canyon trail is a magnificent place to get away for a couple of hours and give yourself a good four mile workout. Happy hiking!

J.S. Lender’s new short story collection, White Sail, Blue Seas, is on sale now! Copyright © J.S. Lender 2022

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