The Santa Rosa Plateau is located in the Southern section of the Santa Ana Mountains, and is one of the best short routes out there. Consisting of 9000 acres, the Reserve protects unique ecosystems such as Engelmann oak woodlands, riparian wetlands, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, bunchgrass prairie, and vernal pools as well as more than 200 species of native birds and 49 endangered, threatened or rare animal and plant species, including mule deer, mountain lions, badgers, bobcats, western pond turtles, white-tailed kites and fairy shrimp. Of the two species of fairy shrimp that live in the seasonal vernal pools on the Reserve, one is found only here and nowhere else on Earth! It is one of the best maintained parks and offers incredible hiking as well. The route we provided is accessible to equestrians, mountain bikers and hikers, with the other portion of the reserve open only to hikers. Make sure to pick up a map from the visitor center so you can go back and hike it as well. It is well worth it!
Sycamore Canyon is comprised of 1500 acres of protected wildlife reserves, with approximately 25 miles of trails within its confines. There are three main entrances to enter the park, so you can create your own loops and customize to your skill set, depending where you enter. We like the Central entrance so we can start with some climbing and begin a descent towards the Water pipe trail marker.