The Lifestlye Blog of "HaM"

Northwest Open Space – San Juan Capistrano

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

My husband and I both had the day off and we decided to spend the morning celebrating instead of dealing with the crowds in the evenings. Since I knew it was going to be a warm, beautiful, sunny day in California, I wanted to get outdoors and hike somewhere we haven’t. My coworker suggest we check out the San Juan Capistrano area. We eventually decided on hiking along the Northwest Open Space in San Juan Capistrano after reading more information on their website here and reading about it from Walk Simply’s blog here. We chose this path mainly so we can have a romantic picnic under one of those beautiful orange trees.

The address is 32901 Camino Capistrano. If you use Google maps, you want to continue on the road AFTER it says you have arrived and you will see the parking lot on your left if you are coming from North Orange County. This is the sign when you see when you first enter the parking lot. It is directly next to the Hamilton Oaks Winery.


After parking, we noticed that the parking lot was also for an adjacent dog park as well. Too bad we didn’t know or Hammy would have joined us.

Once we got out, we decided to walk the path with wooden rails to see where it would take us. There seems to be two paths: one going down to the left and one keeping the same elevation the right. We chose to take the path to the right that leads further into the orange groves.


Here are some flowers along the way. I’ve heard that the entire area becomes a meadow with their mustard flowers come spring time. I am looking forward to coming back to see how beautiful that is.


We ran into this fellow trying to cross the road. He seemed very out of place amongst the many other animals living in the surround habitat. We saw LOTS of  squirrel, turtles, birds, and butterflies. There are also warning signs that say rattlesnakes and mountain lions can be in the area.


After following the wooden path for about a half mile, we came across the Amtrak rail right above us.


Right after passing the tracks, this is what we saw below.


It had rained last week and there was a little stream to the left that was still pouring water down into the little lake below. Directly across from the lake was this beauty with the ducks floating along so peacefully.


We had to cross this wooden log to the get to the other side because of the water but it was fun and there were many large branches along the way that we used as a hiking stick.


I was so amazed at how still the water was despite it flowing into the lake and the surface looked like glass. It was stunning.


As we walked down further to the lake, the dirt road became all rocks. You must climb the rocks downhill to get toward the lake. It is REALLY EASY and not that much change in elevation so definitely something that is still possible with children if you are thinking about taking them.


Since it was Valentine’s Day, we thought we’d take an artistic picture while we were there.


After hanging out by the lake for awhile and throwing pebbles in (my husband’s favorite pasttime), we climbed up a hill we saw and ended up on top of the Amtrak rails. It was probably. It was probably not the greatest idea and a bit dangerous so we just snapped a quick picture and climbed back down.


I also took an image of the lake and the mountains from a higher view prior to climbing down form the rails.


Alas, we decided to walk back the path we came even though it continued on to what I believe is a soccer field. Not sure what is after that since we were hungry, but the path definitely continues. Here’s a picture of me grabbing an orange on the way back.


More orange trees in an open field.ca_02141417524015

Because it was Valentine’s Day, I knew I wanted to picnic out under an orange tree so I picked this one. It was approximately 50 feet in front of our car and was by itself. I thought it was quite romantic.


We took out our picnic basket and had a wonderful time just absorbing the nature’s beauty and each other’s company.ca_02141417530184

And if you are not a person who wasnt to sit underneath and tree, there are picnic table for you right by the parking lot.


We had such a great time exploring and are looking forward to coming back with our two boys so they can run and play in the open space.


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This entry was posted on February 14, 2014 by in Family, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .

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