Thursday, August 2, 2012

More Than Apples: Oak Glen's Native Garden



Next to Julian, Oak Glen seems to be the apple capital of Southern California. In the foothills of the San Bernardino mountains, its single scenic loop takes you through a trail of apple-picking, apple cider, apple pie, and olde time country kitchens and grandma's gift shops. It's Temecula's wine trail without the wine.



Along the trail lies  Los Rios - not only Southern California's largest historic apple ranch, but also headquarters to the Wildlands Conservancy (who also operate Mission Creek and Whitewater preserves) and site of the gorgeous Oak Glen Preserve.



The trail first takes you through the apple orchard - no picking, tasting, or disturbing please - and then winds around in a loop trail of varying landscapes, some sunny...



...some shady...





...some wet...







...and some dry.



Rather than existing as the result of landscaping or the introduction of invasive species, Oak Glen is so lush because it's home to numerous native species which populate the preserve in abundance, including the Bracken Fern...





...box elder maple trees, several oaks (including black oak and scrub oak)...



...and stinging nettle.



And there are, of course, apples - some of which appear to have been snacked on.



Of the non-native species, there are Himalayan blackberries along the stream trail...



...and the ranch even hosts a U-pick for raspberries in the summer.



If you take all of the trail's tangents and diversions - including a charparral loop - you clock in at about 2.5 miles...



...which doesn't sound like much, but between the ponds and reflecting pools and fields and trees and boardwalks and birds (like the ubiquitous and screechy Steller Jay), you get to see a lot.



And at the end of the trail, which takes you back to your car in the parking lot, you are climbing out of this hidden little wonderland in the very civilized wild...



...which, for some reason, at times smells like maple syrup.

To become a fan on Facebook, click here.