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THE GREAT OUTDOORS / GETTING ACTIVE BY LAND

Hitting the Trails : ONCE A HAVEN FOR GOLFERS, PETERS CANYON PROVIDES A WAY TO GET AWAY FROM THE SUBURBS

June 26, 1996|JOHN McKINNEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In 1899, "green space" in these parts had an entirely different meaning than it does today. Here in a remote canyon, local sportsmen introduced golf to Orange County.

Santa Ana and Orange duffers leased land from the Irvine Co. and laid out a nine-hole course. The "greens" were oil-soaked earthen patches and the fairways were little more than brush-cleared canyon bottom. It must have been hard to make par in Golf Canyon, as it became known.

Today Golf Canyon is the site of Peters Canyon Park, located on the edge of more suburbs-in-the-making on the eastern frontier of the communities of Orange and Tustin. The Irvine Co. donated the park land in 1992.

A park highlight is a reservoir, a gathering place for many migratory and resident waterfowl. Bring binoculars and watch for herons and egrets along the willow-lined shores. Also watch the skies for the red-tailed and Cooper's hawks circling above the eucalyptus groves located in lower Peters Canyon.

A network of old Irvine Ranch roads and footpaths explore the canyon and its east wall. Most popular is Lake View Trail, a two-mile path that loops around the reservoir. It's a six-mile round trip walk to the eucalyptus groves at the park's south end.

Join signed Lake View Trail as it meanders along the northern edge of Upper Peters Canyon Reservoir, built in 1931 by the Irvine Co. to hold water for its agricultural operations. A lower reservoir was built in 1940, but as you'll see when you visit the lower canyon, it's dry these days, and serves as an emergency flood control basin.

The trail joins a dirt road on the west side of the lake, then skirts the dam. Loop back along the east side of the reservoir to the parking area or continue along the canyon bottom on Lower Canyon Trail.

As you near the south end of the park, you'll pass a World War II "battlefield;" this part of Peters Canyon was used by the U.S. Army during the war to train troops and stage mock battles.

Visit the eucalyptus groves at the park's south end, then, if you wish, join East Ridge View Trail for the return back up the canyon. The views promised by this trail's name are of the length of Peters Canyon as well as semi-suburban, semi-pastoral Orange County.

Access: From Highway 55 in Orange, exit on Chapman Avenue and head east 4 1/2 miles to Jamboree Road. Turn right and proceed a half mile to Canyon View Avenue, then turn right again. The park is a short distance up the road on your left. Parking costs $2 per vehicle.

For more information: Peters Canyon Regional Park, 2145 Windes Drive, Orange, CA 92669 or call 538-4400.

*

To learn more about finding your way in the wilderness?

The Orange County Adventure 16 store offers a two-part introduction to the fundamentals of using a map and compass. A two-hour Thursday evening class beginning at 6:30 introduces walkers to map-reading techniques and compass procedures. A Saturday field trip lets students practice what they've learned.

The course cost of $50 per person includes instruction, maps, handouts, and use of compasses. The next two courses are offered Thursday, July 18/Saturday July 20 and Thursday, September 19/Saturday, September 21. For more information call (714) 650-3301. The Orange County Adventure 16 store is located at 1959 Harbor Boulevard in Costa Mesa.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

What to Watch For

-Poison Oak--"Leaves of three, let it be" is the rule for this shrub found in chaparral, especially near streams.

-Ticks--Protect against ticks waiting to attach themselves to unsuspecting victims. Stick to the trails and wear light-colored clothing so ticks can be spotted before they attach. If wearing long pants, tuck them into your socks.

-Snakes--Rattlesnakes prefer grassy areas, so stay on the trails and never put your hand or foot in areas you can't see. In early summer, snakes may sun themselves in open trail areas.

What to Wear

Cotton/polyester blend T-shirt, light-colored to keep cool

Waist pack

Water bottle or canteen

Lightweight hiking boots or gym shoes

Thermax or polypropylene socks

What to Bring

-Maps--Topographic trail maps

-Food--High-energy food such as granola, dried fruits and nuts.

-Water--Bring a quart for a half-day hike, more for longer hikes and in hot weather. Never drink from streams or creeks.

-First-Aid--Bring basic first-aid supplies such as Band-Aids, moleskin for blisters, an elastic bandage and medication if you're allergic to bee stings. Also take sunscreen and lip balm.

-Binoculars--For spotting wildlife such as hawks, deer and coyotes.

Researched by JULIE SHEER / Los Angeles Times

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