On a typical weekday night, instead of watching tv or playing games on an iPad, we try and take the kids out. One of our favorite places, outside of Disneyland, is this hidden gem inside Riverside County. Only a 15 minute drive from our house, the Santa Rosa Plateau is an ecological reserve that consists of 9,000 acres of protected land. There are more than 200 species of native birds there as well as 49 endangered, threatened or rare animal and plant species. A few times we’ve spotted deer and once we even saw a mountain lion. One of their coolest trails leads to vernal pools where fairy shrimp live. Vernal pools, for those not familiar, are these seasonal, shallow pools of water that alternate from being dry to being filled up, springing with life. They sit on rare volcanic soils, supporting endemic fairy shrimp and wintering waterfowl.
On our hikes, the kids love getting a little dirty. Now that they’re older it’s getting harder for us to keep them in their strollers so we all end up walking, which can take quite a long time. These two toddlers have a mind of their own! Usually, Sam holds Logan over his shoulder while Parker walks or runs ahead. Though our hikes are typically short, less than a mile, we love breathing in the crisp air and we make it a point to talk about how lucky we are to live so near such a breathtaking place.
If you’re looking for a nice day hike, you can even visit the Moreno and Machado Adobes, which are Riverside County’s oldest standing structures. They date back to 1846 and once served as a bunkhouse for cowboys.
Now, here are some photos, taken from the last year, of our trips to Santa Rosa Plateau. From everyone’s smiles, you can see just how much our family loves this place.