mcfam's Passport


Member since:
27 May 2010

Icon_superoo_orangeSuperoo '12, '13, '14, '16

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About Me & My Family

My husband and I have 4 kids... 3 boys and then our girl. We homeschool them all and travel when possible. We just started letterboxing and are finding ourselves a little obsessed with it.
Our Family's Travel Personality
adventurous, curious, structured, relaxed, simple, independent, spontaneous, easy_going
We Just Got Back From
Point Magu State Beach
Our Favorite Vacation Spot
Camping in Kings Canyon or Yosemite
A Place We'd Love To Visit
The Redwoods in Northern California
Favorite Vacation Memory
Walking the meadows of Yosemite with my family. The quiet, the sparkling water, the rustling grasses, and a dip in the river made for an amazing day.
Worst Travel Moment With My Kids:
Anytime throw up is involved. Especially when one kid triggers another. And when we are in the car. And when they choose to use the box that is holding all their library books and toys.
Websites I Like:

Family friendly day hikes in Orange County, California

Our family really enjoys hiking and seeing the wild nature that has been preserved in Orange County, CA.  When we first moved here, it felt like it was 'all-city' and 'no-country'.  I'm so glad we were wrong!  There's a lot of beautiful nature near by to discover but you have to hunt for it.

The hikes on this list are 1-2 miles in length and have minimal to 600 feet in elevation gain.  This list is to help families find a new place to explore in nature.  Tips like trail conditions and elevation gain will help families decide on what their little ones can handle and on which stroller to bring!


3842 Warner Avenue
Huntington Beach, California

The Slough Trail is a 1.5 mile loop with no elevation gain. The trail starts as it crosses the long wooden bridge that provides great observation of shore birds and other wildlife. The trail is mostly dirt and wide but a jogging stroller would be best.

reviewed on: June 16 2010

"Tidal channel"
We came on a homeschool field trip to this tidal basin.  A docent led us on a long walk across a long bridge.  I thought we'd never make it across because my little baby kept crying every time the stroller stopped.  But my big kids learned a lot about the migrating shore birds, the pickle weed that grows in the shallows and how the tidal channel was rebuilt so that this basin's water levels can rise and fall with the tides.  My kids enjoyed being on the long bridge and seeing the many birds in the water below.


4442 Carbon Canyon Road
Brea, California

The Nature Trail is a 1.1 mile one way hike to the Redwood Grove. The dirt trail is mostly flat and wide. Several sections of sand on the trail can make pushing a stroller a bit tougher. A stream crossing is necessary. Stream is usually dry during most of the year. You will need to cross over logs, stones, or take shoes off to make it across without getting wet. Depth is usually no more than 1/2 foot. Start at the east end of the park or jump midway on the trail by walking south from the lake.

reviewed on: April 21 2011

"Hike to the redwoods"
The wildflowers towered over our heads as we took the 1 mile hike to the redwood grove.  It was the perfect day... not very hot!  I can imagine that this trail gets pretty toasty without any trees to shade it.  In 2008 a wildfire swept through this area and the wildflowers that grow there today show the amazing recovery that nature can make!  

The first thing that my kids saw when we drove into this park was the playground with 6 large red slides coming down it.  They could hardly wait for me to stop the car so they could run down the hill and start sliding.  The play structures were plentiful and satisfied my 2 - 10 year old for a long time.  The only problem was that the bathroom was pretty far away, and up a big hill!

This park has a lot to offer and we enjoyed only part of it today!  The playground, the hike and the beautiful wildlife we saw today (egrets, bluebirds, butterflies, snakes and ladybugs) was all awesome!


33401 Ortega Highway
San Juan Capistrano, California

The Nature Trail is a 1 mile loop that crosses a wide creek bed (mostly dry but can be about 1/2 feet deep, through lush meadows and under spreading old oak trees. It is a narrow, dirt path and can be difficult, but not impossible for jogging strollers. Elevation gain is minimal. The trailhead starts near the parking lot at the corral and windmill at the north end of the park.

reviewed on: June 02 2010

"Wilderness at it's best"
This park offers hiking and biking trails, a nature center, campgrounds, running creeks, sandstone cliffs, and wildlife.

Out on the trail, we felt like we were miles from Orange County, and we enjoyed every minute of it.  Our kids splashed in the creeks, saw a couple of snakes and frogs, and enjoyed the shade of the trees.

The nature center is a great place for the kids to visit.  There is a lookout tower with telescopes and many displays.

The playground was very fun for the kids including a teeter totter, which is a rare piece of equipment on today's playgrounds.


Cleveland National Forest
Trabuco Canyon, California

This trail takes hikers to a beautiful waterfall in the backcountry of Orange County. The trail total is 2.7 miles from the trailhead. The road to the trailhead is 5 miles and is recommended for 4 wheel drive vehicles only. Many stream crossings and poison oak make this trail fun and challenging. A baby backpack is the best option. Elevation gain is 620 feet.


18751 Laguna Canyon Road
Laguna Beach, California

Start at the Nix Nature Center and take the Nature Trail Loop. It's approx. 1/2 mile long and has interactive displays that are interesting to children and adults alike. The docents in the Center also offer scavenger hunt cards to search for items on the trail. The trail has a few elevation gains and losses but is not strenuous. A large wheeled stroller is recommended. The 1 mile trail to Barbara's Lake is a great hike for families. Start at the Nix Nature Center for specific directions, or find the trail head downhill from the Center that starts at the end of the parking lot and heads toward the underpass of Laguna Canyon Road. The trail goes under the road and around to the only natural lake in Orange County. There is no lake access for swimming, wading or fishing but the views are pretty. There is a small picnic area at the lake. The dirt trail is mostly flat, smooth, and wide and accommodates most strollers.

reviewed on: June 02 2010

"Nature trails"
There are several trail starting points and areas to park in this Wilderness Park system.  We like to park at the Nix Nature Center off of Laguna Canyon Road.  This center is just north of the 73 toll road.

This area hosts a great but small nature center that has hands on exhibits for kids.  There is a short 1/2 mile nature loop trail that is perfect for young kids.  Ask at the nature center desk for the scavenger hunt cards before you start this trail.  The cards have pictures of items for the kids to find on the trail.  Included on the trail are sign posts with pictures and interactive displays such as a scent guide to the local wildlife and flowers.

This is also a great starting point for the trail to Barbara's Lake which is one of 2 natural lakes in Orange County.  The trail has minimal elevation gain and is about 1 mile round trip.


18751 Laguna Canyon Road
Laguna Beach, California

The Laurel Canyon Trail offers hikers access to small sandstone caves, a dry (most seasons) creek bed, meadow beauty, and a view of a beautiful secluded canyon. A 50 foot waterfall can be reached after approx. 1 mile. Continue on the trail to Bommer Ridge for a total of a 3.5 mile hike. This trail has some significant elevation gains and losses and is not good for strollers. 600 feet total elevation gain. Narrow paths through sandstone outcroppings and 3-4 creek crossings offer great challenges to strollers. A baby backpack is the best option.

reviewed on: March 04 2011

"Canyon hike with caves"
We hiked the Laurel Canyon trail to get to the Laurel Canyon Waterfall that we heard was beautiful.  We didn't get to see the actual waterfall because of low water conditions but what we did see was absolutely beautiful anyway!  

We started the trail by passing through hugh boulders with sandstone caves that my kids loved climbing into and exploring.  Up and down some hills we went and then came to a wide meadow with beautiful grasses.  My kids found a "secret" hideout under a large oak tree near the dry creek bed and they could've stayed there for a long time.  But we pressed on and passed by "ghost rock" (just imagine a rock that looks like one of the ghosts from "PacMan"!)  We crossed over the creek several times (no bridges) and then hiked steeply up hill to the top of the waterfall.  It was a beautiful canyon and the view down below was amazing.  We heard frogs, saw many birds and small animals, and unfortunately several ticks.  Poison oak was there too, but off to the side of the trail.

A new feature to this trail is the audio tour.  Along the trail are sign posts that encourage you to call a cell phone number and listen to an audio recording that gives interesting facts about the specific area you are viewing.  We enjoyed this immensely and it gave us lots of good topics of conversation with our kids.

This is not a trail that is inviting to jogging strollers, although we took ours.  Single track trail over many bumps, rocks and sand made it a tough push.  A baby backpack would be much better.  The 0.8 mile trek to the waterfall felt like a long hike with our young kids and it took us about 3 hours round trip.    But we were glad we went on the adventure.  It was beautiful!


6700 E. Walnut Canyon Road
Anaheim, California

The Nature Trail starts right across from the Nature Center up a flight of stairs. For wheeled access, start at the trail across from the amphitheater. Wander through the 1/2 - 1 mile of paved trail that offers interactive activities for kids such as climbing into an empty (cement) turtle shell. The Stream Trail starts after the bridge crossing just past the amphitheater. Wide stair steps and narrow bridges can make it difficult for strollers, but not impossible. The trail is approx. 1 mile round trip and follows the small stream of the canyon. Approx 100 feet elevation gain.

reviewed on: February 25 2011

"Nature trails and a stream"
This little section of trails is located right in the heart of Orange County, surrounded by housing developments and businesses.  What a jewel of nature, preserved for us to enjoy.  Sometimes the "getting out to enjoy nature" takes work, but that effort is richly rewarded at this place.

My kids and I hiked the stream trail, past an amphitheater, a mine, and over 5 or 6 cute little bridges.  We saw ducks, woodpeckers and heard the rhythmic croaking of Pacific Tree Frogs.  The 1/4 mile nature trail (just up the stairs by the Nature Center) has a lot to offer kids.  My kids jumped in the broken "bird egg" and chirped like baby birds, crawled through the turtle shell and then pretended to be animals living in a hollowed log.  Interpretive signs helped me teach them a little history and nature as we wandered the trail.  A butterfly garden filled with large butterfly structures attracted my kid's attention for quite some time.  We loved our time in nature today!

Most of the trails and bridges are narrow and would most likely accommodate a small stroller or jogger.  However, the stream trail has many steps and would not work for a stroller.  Other trails are available but will not take you over the bridges that would be sure to entice most kids.  

The trails are well marked and lined with stones, but I saw many areas of poison oak off the trail.  In most cases it was far back from the trail, but is a good reason to stay out of the bushes here!


2145 N. Windes Drive
Orange, California

The Santiago Creek Trail Loop is a total of 2.2 miles but there are many other trails that criss cross it and can take hikers back along parallel paths to the creek which can make this length shorter if necessary. Most of the trails at this park are dirt with wide paths. The trail that goes to the ancient dam has multiple steps and is not stroller friendly. Enjoy the path along the creek under old oak trees.


Christianitos Road
San Clemente, California

The trail to Trestles Beach starts on Christianitos Road just across from the intersection of El Camino Real. Enter through the gate of the chain link fence or hop on the trail that edges Christianitos Road further up. Take the trail down towards the ocean. You will walk under the 5 Freeway and will see many surfers making their way back and forth from the ocean. The trail has a significant elevation decline towards the beach. The dirt trail can be rocky and bumpy at times but the path is wide. It is a 1 mile trail to the beach. Be sure to leave energy to make it back up the hill on your way home!

reviewed on: February 08 2011

"Nature trail to beach"
Trestles Beach is a somewhat hidden gem located in the very southern tip of Orange County.  It is well known to surfers across the world, but it was all new to me, my kids and my other mom friends.  Surfers come here from around the world to catch the breakers that form from the ridge of rocks and debris at the mouth of the river that empties at this beach.  We came for the hike next to the river, the dunes covered with flowers and the massive stretch of sand.

It was a 1 mile hike (down hill) for us from our cars parked up on Christianitos Road.  We hopped on the trail right next to the road which took us down hill, under the 5 Freeway, next to the river and then under the train trestles onto the beach.  What beautiful views!  We spotted some wildlife, found some wild cucumbers growing on the side of the trail and had a great hike.  We shared the trail with lots of surfers and bikers who were on their way to catch some waves.

In early February 2011, when we went, there was a lot of construction going on right at the train track and under the trestles.  We shared the road with trucks and bulldozers and found our way through chain link fence to find the path through the trestles.  There was 1 porta-potty by the trestles (hold your nose!) but not many other options.  

Our jogging strollers were needed over the ruts and small rocks of the trail but were still very hard to push over the large stretch of sand to the ocean.  It was well worth it, however.  We found a resting spot near the mouth of the river and explored it's banks, played with cat tails, floated small sticks, and rested near the tiny flowers that miraculously grew from the sand.  

The uphill trek was a bit tough, and I was so glad for my big boys (8 and 10) who helped me push the stroller uphill.  I don't think I could've done it without friends along the way!  

We look forward to exploring this place again.  I've heard you can see the edges of the "Western White House" where Nixon had his summer home; explore tide pools, and hike along San Onofre State Beach to the south and San Clemente State Beach to the north.  Thankfully there are many "summer-like" days in Southern California, just bursting with opportunity.