It’s time to check out the upcoming Orange County Parks Fall programs and events. The OC Park system offers a great selection of educational programs, docent led hikes and adventures, volunteer opportunities, and special weekend activities that the whole family can participate in. Check out our list of activities that are offered by OC Parks.
Bird walks are a great way for bird enthusiasts, both new and old, to enjoy spotting native feathered friends in a park setting. The volunteer naturalist will take participants on a leisurely 2-mile walk around the parks in search of local birds. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable walking or hiking shoes and to bring binoculars. The events are generally free, but reservations are required. This recurring event takes place at various locations including Irvine Regional Park, Peters Canyon, Laguna Niguel Regional Park, Mason Regional Park, and San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary.
Steward Workday allows volunteers to register and go behind the scenes at the Native Seed Farm to help maintain the garden through weeding, cutting, digging, and whatever else is necessary. The seeds of the wildflowers grown here will be used in the wild areas of OC Parks to regrow native animal habitat, providing food and shelter within the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks and acting as a buffer against the impacts of fires and floods. Volunteers are needed and can register online. Multiple dates and times are available.
Mountain Biking Excursions
There are a handful of mountain biking adventures to participate in through OC parks. Some are geared to advanced riders like the FREEKS Rides, but others are good for beginners and intermediate riders. Lengths range from 2.5 miles to 19 miles depending on the adventure you choose. Check out the schedule to find the right ride for you.
Registration is required for this public evening program. The event takes place at Santiago Oaks Regional Park on November 6 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Participants will learn about the diverse insects in the area and scope out arthropods with blacklights. Bring your camera! This event is recommended for ages 7 and up.
The Ranger led hikes take place at various locations throughout the OC Parks properties and vary in length and difficulty. One event takes hikers into the Bell Canyon area of Casper’s Wilderness Park on a 1-mile nature hike that is appropriate for all ages. The Ranger Led first Saturday hikes often take participants on a 1.1-mile hike to the Redwood Grove at Carbon Canyon Regional Park. This easy to moderate hike is also good for families and people of all ages. Other hikes include difficult hikes out to The Sinks, 5-mile discovery hikes in the Laguna Coast Wilderness, Family Hikes in Black Star Canyon, and after work hikes.
Register for a spot at one of the preschool programs at Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center. Wild Tales and Crafty Kids Sunday are two of their many programs geared to little ones and include crafts and stories and educational experiences that teach kids about local wildlife and environmental preservation. Plus, most include a short ranger-led hike around the interpretive center afterwards.
On select Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays the Orange County Zoo offers science and art-focused preschool programs. The one-hour class includes hands on learning, a theme-related craft, and an up-close meeting with zoo animals that will delight the little ones. The class is recommended for children ages 3 and 4 and parents must accompany their children for the entire class. Registration is required for this activity, and there are many recurring events on the calendar. There is a $5 fee for the class and a $3 fee for parking.
Starry, Starry Night events are interactive evenings under the stars where you’ll get to know about the solar system and constellations, while enjoying a slow-paced three-and-a-half-mile hike under the night sky at Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park. The event is geared towards families with kids ages 5-12, but all are welcome.
Toddler Treks are perfect for ages 2-6. Each Trek explores a different theme and includes a take-home craft to continue the fun afterwards. Registration is required for these activities, but they are free. Generally, Toddler Treks are held at Irvine Regional Park.
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Heidi Deal is the author of the Newcomers Handbook to Living In Los Angeles & Orange County, and a children’s book author specializing in history and human rights.