We LOVE Riverside’s Nature Preserves for Hiking & Biking!

Heart RaincrossBesides the mountains which we can enjoy from afar or drive to for pleasure, the City of Riverside has numerous opportunities for exploring nature or playing in the out of doors.  This is doubly important because we live in one of the most temperate climates in the US.  The State of California is behind Arizona as the state that gets the most days of sunshine per year. (According to a USA Today Weather News report).  We all know that rain does not grace our skies very often.  This means that we can get out and enjoy the outdoors almost daily! Today is a perfect example, here we are in the middle of February (winter?) and our high is expected to get up to almost 80 degress (F).  Now that’s impressive!

View of snow capped mountains from Sycamore Canyon Preserve.

View of snow capped mountains from Sycamore Canyon Preserve.

Nature surrounds us, with Sycamore Canyon, Box Springs Mountain Preserve, Santa Ana River Trail, California Citrus State Historic Park, Mount Rubidoux Memorial Park all within our city limits, opportunities to get out and about abound.

Sycamore SignSycamore Canyon Park is actually an ecological reserve put in place to help restore the habitat of the local endangered species, most notably the kangaroo rat.  Sycamore is a great place to go for a hike or a mountain bike ride.  In fact, it has become renowned for the great bike trails that spider through the area.  When Bob & Jared go biking there they often meet bikers from San Diego and Orange County who come out to see this great place for mountain biking.  And guess what? The Kangaroo Rats are very happy too!  As it turns out, the bike trails throughout the park have helped these little critters to thrive, providing them pathways to explore their habitat.

Sycamore Canyon Spring & Summer sheep & BikeIt is perfect for biking year round,  the pictures here give you an idea as to what you’ll see in the Spring with beautiful wildflowers, and in summer, when the sheep are grazing. We’re lucky to have Sycamore Canyon in our own backyard.

Mount Rubidoux Memorial Park is our most visible outdoor recreation area.  If you’ve been there recently, you’ll know that it is always busy!  Hikers, bikers, joggers, and dogs are always enjoying the views as they get their daily exercise.   There are even rock climbing clubs that meet to practice on the granite boulders on the “back side” of the mountain. The fact that this outdoor playground is just minutes away from our back doors makes it even more special.

Hundreds of Riversiders enjoy exercising on Mt. Rubidoux every day.

Hundreds of Riversiders enjoy exercising on Mt. Rubidoux every day.

If you’re familiar with Mount Rubidoux, than you may also frequent the Santa Ana River Bike Trail.   It is a safe and fun way to get some spinning time in out in the real world.  Bikers from all around ride this trail which links up to trails in San Bernardio, Redlands, Corona and beyond.  This trail is planned to connect the Inland Empire to the coast and we’re almost there.  If you’re not up for riding all the way to Huntington Beach, one of our favorite rides is from Tequesquite or the Martha Mclean Anza Narrows Park to the Hidden Valley Wildlife Preserve where there are great views from the trail and a bench to rest on before heading home.

View from the Santa Ana Bike trail at the Hidden Valley Nature Center.

View from the Santa Ana Bike trail at the Hidden Valley Nature Center.

Another extraordinary park is our California Citrus Heritage Park in the heart of the city’s greenbelt district.  Preserving the heritage of our City’s first love, oranges, is just one of the benefits of this beautiful landmark. It is currently a State run park, but the City is looking into the option of taking over the management of the location.  Located off of Dufferin & Van Buren on the west side of the city, this park offers another opportunity for getting outdoors and experiencing nature.  If you’re looking for something to do with your kids over the 3-day weekend, the museum at the park offers a great learning experience as well.

Sitting up on the hill above the visitor's center is a great place for a picnic.

Sitting up on the hill above the visitor’s center is a great place for a picnic.

A favorite local hideaway, which is also great for family jaunts and picnics, is the UCR Botanic Gardens.  Located on the backside of the UCR campus the Botanic Gardens offer opportunities to hike through various botanic regions.  There is a cactus & succulent garden, an herb garden, a butterfly garden, even gardens featuring foliage from other countries such as South Africa & Australia.   As you hike through the trails, there are benches and places to sit and enjoy the beauty of the plants, or listen to the singing birds which grace the land.  It is worth marking your calendars to visit this serene habitat.  If you would like more information, their website offers a list of all the different regions you can visit.

Flowering Cactus in the Botanic Gardens

Flowering Cactus in the Botanic Gardens

If you’re a little more adventurous and looking for some fabulous views and more experienced hiking opportunities, why not try Mt. Baldy or Mt. San Jacinto?  Both of these mountains, which tower over our valley, are less than an hour away from Riverside and offer excellent views along with a good workout.  Bob & the boys enjoy hiking up to the peaks to see the views, and to enjoy the experience of hiking  peaks over 10,000 feet high.  A great way to get up Baldy is to ride the ski lift in the spring or summer, it cuts down the journey and there is a restaurant at the top so you can enjoy a nice meal before heading home.  Mt. San Jacinto has the same option if you want to head up from Palm Springs.  Just take the Palm Springs Tramway and you’re well on your way to the top.

Spectacular views from Mt. Baldy.  The peak is over 10,000 ft.

Spectacular views from Mt. Baldy. The peak is over 10,000 ft.

So, whether you stay local, or head out to the towering peaks beyond, there is never a lack of places to get outside in Riverside.  We hope you’re able to enjoy some of these places that we are so fortunate to have here in our city.  Just one more reason that we are in LOVE with RIVERSIDE.

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