Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Simple Pleasures


Joshua Tree National Park is one of my favorite places to hike. If you are ever on the way there, I recommend you make a stop at the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. The Preserve is a special place just off Highway 62 in Morongo Valley. There are several hikes in the Preserve, and, while none are particularly difficult, all are worth doing.

There is a large sign on Highway 62 that directs you to the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. At the entrance is this lovely sign. You really can't miss it.

From the shaded parking area, you'll find this kiosk with information about the Preserve, the flora and fauna and the trails.

All the trails are very well marked.

I start on the Marsh Trail. This trail is an elevated walkway over a marsh filled with trees and plants. The sound of birds makes it obvious that this is a birders paradise. There is a brochure for this trail that identifies natural features, history and plants.

Along the trail the marsh is starting to let us know that it's in charge no matter what we do.

There is an Education Center but it is closed today. I'll have to come back sometime on a weekend and bring the kids.

My next trail is the Mesquite Trail and it is an actual trail.

A very well maintained trail with steps and handrails. Not really what I'm used to but enjoyable nonetheless.

It is important to keep everything here in it's natural state including this old junk car. It probably belonged to some early settler and is now too much a part of the history to remove.

I then make my way to the Yucca Ridge Trail and actually do some climbing.

You get up above everything, where you can look down upon the Marsh Trail and the rest of the Preserve.

You can also look up and see the North Face of Mount San Jacinto.

After dropping down from the Yucca Ridge Trail, I come to this bridge which I cross to get to the Desert Willow Trail. This will take me back to the parking area.

But not before I get a chance to sit and relax in the shade of the Mesquite and Cottonwoods.

The Big Morongo Canyon Preserve is a special place that is easy to overlook while on a quest to Joshua Tree but it is well worth a stop or a special trip to explore this unique and fascinating area. They offer nature walks, educational exhibits and bird watching tours for every member of the family. It is a pleasure to visit and I look forward to coming up again but next time I'll bring my binoculars. I may not be able to identify all of the over 250 species of birds that have been spotted at the Preserve but I'll sure have fun trying.

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