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Check out these Orange County hikes you can take in the New Year

OC Parks' Caspers Wilderness Park in San Juan Capistrano.
(Courtesy of OC Parks)

The new year is the perfect time to explore the outdoors, especially if getting more exercise is on your list of resolutions. There are plenty of trails to explore at OC Parks through out the county that range from wilderness to beaches, with some community hikes being offered on New Year’s Day and beyond.

On Jan. 1, a guided family-friendly hike is being offered at Upper Newport Bay in Newport Beach from 1 to 3 p.m. The hike will trace 2 to 3 miles along the bay’s west bluff with the chance of seeing migratory birds.

Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve located in Newport Beach.
(Courtesy of OC Parks)

Later, on the evening on Jan. 1, Caspers Wilderness Park in San Juan Capistrano is hosting a Star Party from 5 to 7 p.m. Caspers has hosted monthly stargazing events for more than 25 years. The park is 9 miles inland, and the lack of marine layer and light distortion makes for clear viewing of the night sky. This event is led by local astronomer and astrophotographer Allan White.

For those looking for more vigorous excursions, OC Parks also offers community hikes geared toward fitness.

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park’s Nix Nature Center in Laguna Beach is hosting a fitness hike on Jan. 6 from 8:30 to 11 a.m. Not recommended for beginners, the hike covers 5.5 miles over steep and uneven terrain at an elevation gain of 750 feet.

Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve in Silverado will offer an After Work Fitness Hike on Mondays and Wednesdays during the month of January, beginning on the 5th. (There is no hike planned for Jan. 17 in observation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.) The hikes take place on Paved Hicks Haul Road from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and includes a panoramic overview of Orange County.

If you prefer an early morning hike, you can head to Hicks Haul Road from 8:30 to 10:45 a.m. on Jan. 11, 18 or 25 for a 6-mile group hike, set at a pace of about 3 to 3.5 miles per hour.

On Jan. 15, an OC Parks resource specialist will lead an intermediate hike at Black Star Canyon Road in Silverado. This 3-mile hike begins on the Black Star Canyon County Trail before heading up into the surrounding hills, including Silmod Trail into Baker Canyon, where you’ll find views of Irvine Lake.

Family hikes are available on Jan. 16 at Baker Canyon in Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park and on Jan. 23 at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park from 1 to 3:30 p.m. The Baker Canyon hike will explore parts of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, with the opportunity to spot red-tailed hawks and mule deer. The hike is ideal for families with kids, with an average 3 to 4 miles round trip at an easy pace. The Whiting Ranch hike traces the Borrego Canyon trail and the Red Rock Canyon trail for approximately 2 miles, with a total climbing elevation of about 500 feet.

Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve located in Newport Beach.
(Courtesy of OC Parks)

At the end of the month, Jan. 29, the Upper Newport Bay will host its annual World Wetlands Day Trash Cleanup from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.. In recognition of World Wetlands Day, OC Parks invites people to join in removing the trash winter rains can push into the riverbeds. This event isn’t as of much a hike, as it is a chance to help keep one of Orange County’s most popular hiking areas clean, which organizers say can make participants feel just as exhilarated.

Register for hikes at letsgooutside.org/ocparks/activities and watch for rain in the forecast, which may lead to the cancellation of individual excursions.

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