Trail riding is a great way to see the outdoors in a leisurely fashion. Get a leg up at Country Trails and Riding School, located within Irvine Regional Park, where paths wander through chaparral, coastal live oaks, and California sycamores. Guided tours available throughout the year; a one-hour ride is $40. Country Trails, 1 Irvine Park Road, Orange, 714-538-5860, www.ctriding.com
“Dead of winter” might mean something in the Midwest, but here in Orange County, the garden goddess works overtime year-round. Spend an afternoon prowling the 12½ acres of the botanical garden and arboretum at UC Irvine for inspiration. Look for plant sales one Saturday a month to stock up on succulents, cactuses, and other items. Near Jamboree Road and Campus Drive in Irvine, 949-824-5833, www.arboretum.bio.uci.edu
Shape Up, Maggot!
Tired of that muffin-top midriff? An outdoor boot camp might get you back on the road to fitness. One of the largest and oldest is O.C.-based Adventure Boot Camps, founded in 1999 by John Spencer Ellis. Courses include workouts plus nutritional counseling and motivational coaching. A four-week session begins Feb. 15; courses are available at eight sites from 5:30 to 6:30 a.m. Monday through Friday. 949-713-5319, www.ocbootcamp.com
Play With Fire
Rekindle an old flame this month at Huntington City and State beaches, where it’s much easier to score a fire ring now that the summer tourists are gone. Take a sunset stroll along the sand, then break out the marshmallows and graham crackers for s’mores. Use only natural wood, and douse the fire with water when you’re done. Dress warmly, bring a flashlight, and carry out your trash. Between First Street and Brookhurst Avenue on Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach
Take a Hike
For a scenic afternoon stroll that will remind you how lucky you are to live in Orange County, head down to the Pacific for a revitalizing walk along one of the area’s loveliest beaches at Crystal Cove State Park. Or take a serious backcountry excursion on the 17 miles of trails in the park’s 2,400-acre wilderness area. $15 parking, 8471 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, 949-494-3539, www.crystalcovestatepark.com
Say namaste to the Laguna Laughter Club, which meets on Laguna Beach’s Main Beach for “Laughter Yoga.” The gathering is at 8 a.m. Sunday through Friday; 4:30 p.m. Saturday. www.lyinstitute.org
Arrrgh! Ye need not talk like a salty dog to have fun at Pirates Cove at Corona del Mar State Beach. Break out your chalk bag and shoes for a steep climb up a sandstone outcropping called The Beach. Take care when it’s cloudy or rainy, because holds can become slippery. Climbing is best after a Santa Ana wind, which dries out
the rock. Ocean Boulevard at Iris Avenue, Corona del Mar.
Step It Up
Runners warm up this time of year by conquering winter-lush paths like this one in Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. Check out www.theoctr.org for a list of trails, or join runners who compete in the O.C. Chili Winter Trail Run Series, scheduled Feb. 13, March 13, and April 17 at O’Neill Regional Park in Trabuco Canyon. The 5-mile run, through sycamore and live oaks, ends with a chili cook-off and campfire.
View of the Coast ➜ Heisler Park, Laguna Beach
Dog Beach ➜ Huntington Beach
Scenic Hike ➜ Crown of the Sea Trail, Corona del Mar
Native Habitat and Wildlife Preserve ➜ Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary, Fullerton
Place to Soak In the “Endless Summer” Vibe ➜ Huntington City Beach
Historic Site ➜ Mission San Juan Capistrano
Collection of Wilderness Trails ➜ Caspers Wilderness Park, San Juan Capistrano
Photograph by Steve Casimiro
This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue.