Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Aliso Wilderness Park and Dripping Cave

The day after Thanksgiving we drove past a big shopping center. It was jam packed.
I don't understand the draw. There really isn't anything I want that would make me get up at 5 am, stand in line, perhaps get trampled, and save a few bucks. I can't think of much worse.
Oh wait, doing it with 3 kids. That's worse.
So we didn't hit the mall.
Instead, we hit the trail.
We headed south to Orange County and the Aliso Wilderness Park. Our ultimate destination was a cave, once used as a hideout for stagecoach robbers. Our boys were beyond excited to see this cave.
At first I was a little confused about the wilderness park. We were just hiking down a long, paved road.
True, the views were beautiful, the canyon hills steep, the trees gorgeous,

there were wild gourds to be found and admired,

there were raptor houses for birds of prey to perch upon,

and owl pellets to look at, but.... it just didn't seem like wilderness.

We stopped along the side of the road and had our picnic lunch.

We hiked a little farther, and then, we found it.
Aliso Wilderness Park doesn't begin until you've hiked a mile and a half down a paved road to get to the park entrance. There a dirt path awaits you, a portable toilet, a picnic table and a bike rack. There are a lot of mountain bikers at the park.
Also, there is poison oak. The boys quickly pointed it out.
"Leaves of 3, let it be."
My little wilderness men. (and if this isn't poison oak, tell me what it is, so I can know the real stuff when I see it.)

Just a short way up the main trail we saw this sign. Oh yeah.

We didn't have to go far before we saw the caves. The boys were so excited they could hardly contain themselves.

There was a bit of an incline but James was able to scramble up unattended. William held my hand.

These are sandstone caves, and the boys quickly discovered how much fun it was to slide down the sand from one cave to the next.

Even Lilly tried it. And loved it.

The view from inside the cave was quite lovely. No wonder those bandits hid out there.

The caves got smaller as they went down the side of the hill, but there was plenty of room for everyone. The biggest cavern was tall enough for me to be on my knees, with plenty of room to stretch out.

Lilly's favorite part was when Daddy hid,

and then popped out and scared her. She is such a thrill seeker.

After spending a while in the caves, we climbed to the top, took in the views and climbed down.

We decided this was the start of a new tradition: the day after Thanksgiving hike. What a perfect way to work off some of that dinner, to celebrate the last few days of fall, and to be together as a family just a bit more.
I couldn't ask for a better way to spend the day. And it was cheaper than going to the mall.

If you want to go:
Here is the information you need, such as directions, hours etc.

My notes:
You will see lots of mountain bikers, so stick to the side of the trail.
There is a portable toilet at the trail entrance, but no water. Bring extra.
We hardly explored the rest of the park, but there are more trails from where we were, as well as other entrances to reach other parts of the park.
If you are hiking with little legs, remember, you have a mile and half hike to get back to your car.

Our boys already have their next visit to the "robbers cave" all planned out. We'll get there early, set up camp in the cave, with blankets, books and lots of food, and then explore the wilderness all day long. When we are tired or hungry, we'll go back to our cave to rest. We'll pretend we are robbers and the sheriff is trying to catch us, or we'll pretend we are the good guys who kicked the robbers out of the cave.
They couldn't decide on that.
But one thing is for certian. We'll be back.


Naomi said...

I love the new header!! And that is such a great hike once you get to the "real" trail head. The second time we went I packed the kids bikes and a jogger so we could ride/jog to the trail head. Once you're at that cave, dripping cave is only a short bit further? farther? My pictures are posted about 6 rows down in this album: http://picasaweb.google.com/ngoegan/2009WinterSpringSummerNatureJournal#

Mommy of three said...

Wait? There is ANOTHER cave? I thought that WAS dripping cave? But I was kind of confused because I didn't see any water dripping. SO funny. I was really confused by that park. We'll definetly have to go back. The bikes and jog stroller is a great idea. That;s what we thought we'd do next time too!
I'm going to look at your pics now!