Limestone Canyon & Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park
I was surprised to discover that 90% of the park burned in the Santiago Fire of 2007. Despite that tragedy, the land is well into the recovery process. The roads are very well maintained and clearly marked with signage. If you haven’t been here in a few years you’ll see that the Rangers made some trail changes which are well documented in a handout they had at the Concourse Park trailhead (see link above). There are about 4,300 acres of wilderness in this area, with many trails to explore.
Area Features: Riparian and oak woodland canyons, rolling grassland hills and steep slopes of coastal sage scrub and chaparral. Scenic rock formations, including the beautiful Red Rock Canyon. Three intermittent streams: Borrego, Serrano and Aliso Creek. Remnants of the former cattle ranching days can be seen throughout the park.
We began our day intent on exploring Billy Goat Trail. We were following a review on LocalHikes which described a hike called Billy Goat Loop, but there were no maps online to print out. Comments on the review tipped us off that the terrain had changed significantly since the trail was reviewed in 2005, so we found that the hike wasn’t strenuous at all as the review indicated, even weighed down by a DSLR in my hands. Don’t get me wrong, it’s steep in some areas but far from “treacherous”. It was a beautiful hike with views of rolling hills, limestone rock faces and unique features like burned out trees and cactus. Very little wildlife has moved back into the area, but we did see a lot of baby lizards, some birds, beetles and ants. If you’re hiking in the Summer, you might appreciate the water fountain located in the middle of the hike at Four Corners, just before Billy Goat Trail. Parking at the trailhead is open to the public, but the park closes at sundown.
Miles covered: ~4 round trip
Elevation Gain: ~1,025
Hike This trail