Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Orange County Board of Supervisors Accepts 2,500 Acre Gift

The following is a press release from Orange County Parks, which details the great news that 2,500 acres of open space is now permanently preserved for the enjoyment of all Southern California Residents.  The donation by Donald Bren of the Irvine company scraps plans for previously approved construction of homes on the land. Much of the donations will fill in areas around the previously donated 20,000 acres of land that was graciously given to Orange County in 2010 for preservation.  For information about the previous donation, click Here.

ORANGE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS ACCEPTS 2,500-ACRE GIFT

(Orange County, Calif.) – Today the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted to accept 2,500 acres of open space, donated by the Irvine Company to the County for preservation and public recreation.
The donation provides additional connectivity to the 20,000 acres the Irvine Company donated to the County in 2010, which marked the largest single donation of land to the County in its history. The land accepted today was previously slated for construction of approximately 5,000 homes.

“The Board of Supervisors is grateful for the Irvine Company’s continued commitment to preserving open space for Orange County residents and visitors,” said Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer, Third District. “OC Parks has done a wonderful job caring for the 20,000 acres donated in 2010, while still allowing thousands of visitors each year to enjoy its beauty. This latest donation to the public open space in the Third District should only enhance those values and opportunities.”

Most of the land will be governed by conservation easements held by the Orange County Parks Foundation to ensure that it is managed with an appropriate balance between habitat protection and public access.
The easements establish guidelines for land management, monitoring, habitat restoration, infrastructure improvement and public programs similar to the guiding principles of the Natural Community Conservation Plan (NCCP) established to preserve nearly 37,000 acres of sensitive natural habitats managed by multiple local governments, utilities, and institutions. OC Parks is honored to participate in this collaborative effort as the steward of an amazing contiguous landscape of native wildlands, and is pleased to offer opportunities for public education, recreation, and respite in this unique space.


The 2,500-acre donation is made up of four separate parcels:

Mountain Park
Acres: 1,073.9
Located near the 91 Freeway and 241 Toll Road in the City of Anaheim, it is surrounded on three sides by land already owned by the County and managed by OC Parks. The land was previously entitled for development of approximately 2,500 homes.


Santiago Hills II
Acres: 16.2
Directly adjacent to Irvine Regional Park in Orange, this will serve as an addition to California’s first regional park.


East Orange Area I
Acres: 469.2
West of Irvine Lake along Santiago Canyon Road and the 241 Toll Road in Orange, this land was previously entitled to develop 2,200 homes.


East Orange Area II
Acres: 936.5
This parcel includes land southeast of Irvine Lake in the city of Orange and is directly adjacent to County-owned portions of Black Star Canyon.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Work Off Thanksgiving Dinner At Irvine Regional Park

WORK OFF THANKSGIVING DINNER AT IRVINE REGIONAL PARK ON ORANGE FRIDAY

(Orange, Calif.) – OC Parks and Irvine Regional Park invite you to burn off the Thanksgiving dinner calories in the great outdoors at Orange Friday on Friday, November 28 from 2 to 5 p.m.

Orange Friday offers a family-friendly event with something for everyone to enjoy. A Santa Cruise will be available for mountain bikers, a Rudolph Ride for the equestrians and a Snowman Stroll for the hikers with a ranger-led interpretive hike at 3 p.m.

Holiday-spirited costumes are encouraged at Orange Friday and prizes will be awarded to the best dressed and most appropriate for each category (like Santa hats for the Santa Cruise or antlers for the Rudolph Ride). After the event, stay at Irvine Regional Park to enjoy the opening night of the Christmas Train at Irvine Park Railroad.

After the overeating and hectic shopping, come to Irvine Regional Park and get in the holiday spirit at Orange Friday. Posting about the event? Make sure to include #OCOrangeFriday in your Tweets, on Instagram and anywhere you share on social media! We will pick our favorite post for a special prize!

November 28 – Orange Friday
2 – 5 p.m.
Cost: Free
Parking: $3 per vehicle
Location: Irvine Regional Park
Address: 1 Irvine Park Road, Orange, CA 92869

Friday, November 7, 2014

Nature Valley (Product Review)

Recently, Ashley and I were sent several different types of Granola Bars from Nature Valley to sample and test for our readers. We were not paid for our opinion, but to be completely transparent Ashley and I already have a favorable view on Nature Valley products and regularly bring Nature Valley granola bars with us on our hikes. Needless to say, we were not disappointed with the products we were given to sample and Ashley and I would gladly recommend each of them to our readers!!

As many of our readers are aware, Nature Valley brings great taste to active consumers looking for nutritious wholesome snacks.  The brand in general has a strong commitment to nature and the outdoors and their commitment to nature and the outdoors starts with real ingredients that come from nature. I have no doubt that most of our readers have seen their TV commercials and advertisements targeting outdoor activities. Bottom-line is Nature Valley is committed to the outdoors. Furthermore, Nature Valley has a dedicated blog set up to inspire you get outside and in the outdoors.

We were sent several of the Nature Valley Breakfast Biscuits: We were given the blueberry flavor to try, which both Ashley and I thoroughly enjoyed and would have no problem recommending! This was personally my favorite of the 4 because of the texture, taste and because there are 4 bars in one package. They are packaged in a convenient pouch with four biscuits and are ideal to take with you along any hike. Nature Valley Breakfast Biscuits combine a delicious crispy texture, and the goodness of 100% natural whole grain oats. They are packed with 26 grams pf whole grain per package. The breakfast biscuits are available in both Blueberry and Honey varieties. For nutritional information click Here.

We were sent several of the Nature Valley® Blueberry Soft Baked Oatmeal Squares: These were delicious as well! This is a newer line of products from Nature Valley and was only launched in June 2014. Nature Valley® Blueberry Soft Baked Oatmeal Squares offer real blueberries and 100% natural whole grain oats soft baked into a soft bar. The squares provide you with 16g of whole grains per serving. Nature Valley® Soft Baked Oatmeal Squares are also available in Cinnamon Brown Sugar and Peanut Butter varieties. These are a great afternoon snack for when you are on a hike. For nutritional information click Here.


We were sent several of the Nature Valley Coconut Almond Protein Bars: This one was Ashley's favorite.  It is a good hearty granola bar packed with roasted peanuts, almonds and toasted coconut flakes to create delicious chewy snack with a satisfying crunch that is packed with 10g of protein. This is the type of bar that is good to give you long sustaining energy on any hike. For nutritional information click Here. They also come in several different varieties such as peanut butter/dark chocolate, salted camel, peanut butter almond/dark chocolate, mixed berry Greek Yogurt, and strawberry Greek Yogurt.

We were sent Nature Valley Coconut Crunchy Granola Bars: Ashley and I enjoyed the coconut flavor of these crunchy granola bars. Ashley and I routinely carry this type of granolar bar with us while out on long hikes. We generally carry either the honey or peanut butter varieties. This particular bar combine 16g of whole grain oats with the delicious taste of toasted coconut and honey. Packed in two-bar pouches, Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars offer a crunchy, sweet taste you can take anywhere. 16g of whole grain per serving. At least 48g recommended daily.  For nutritional information click Here.

Variety is always important when bringing snacks and food with you while out hiking. Ashley and I look forward to mixing up our hikes with different types of Granola Bars from Nature Valley, because they sure offer a whole lot more than just your standard granola bar. For those of you looking for a good coupon from Nature Valley click Here. You can find Nature Valley products in almost any grocery store throughout the United States, the price point(s) on the Nature Valley products are reasonable, but do vary depending on location.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

New Recommended Wilderness on the Cleveland National Forest

Here is a Press Release from the Forest Service regarding the addition of wilderness areas in the Cleveland National Forest. For a map of the new wilderness areas click Here.

Forest Service officials on November 3, 2014 announced the signing of the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Cleveland National Forest Land Management Plan (LMP) Amendment.

The Amendment to the LMP is part of the Settlement Agreement approved January 3, 2011, in the case of California Resources Agency, et al vs. United States Department of Agriculture, and Center for Biological Diversity, et al vs. United States Department of Agriculture, which challenged the Cleveland’s 2006 LMP.

“We had a monumental moment last week that will have major implications on how we manage certain areas of the Cleveland National Forest,” said Cleveland Forest Supervisor Will Metz. “The Forest now has new areas managed as wilderness, which is the highest level of protection that the Forest Service can provide and especially important in this highly developed Region.”

Roughly 43,000 more acres of the Cleveland National Forest are zoned as Recommended Wilderness and will therefore be managed to retain and improve their wilderness character until Congress makes a final decision about their wilderness designation. These lands are located primarily on the Palomar Ranger District but also include northern portions of the Descanso Ranger District. This decision also amends the LMP monitoring and evaluation requirements to make them more efficient and effective.

The areas now zoned as recommended wilderness offer outstanding opportunities for solitude, primitive recreation, species refuge, and watershed protection. The zoning provides for manageable boundaries that avoid conflicts with existing roads and adjacent uses. The majority of the Forest will continue to have the flexibility to accommodate a range of uses such as mountain biking, hang-gliding, or utility corridors that are not permitted in designated wilderness areas. For additional information, contact Forest Planner Jeff Heys at 858- 674-2959.

Friday, October 31, 2014

OC Parks November 2014 Calendar of Events

Here are some highlights from the OC Parks November of events, if you are looking for hiking ideas or other outdoor events in the month of November, make sure to check out some of these great events!

OC Parks NOVEMBER 2014 calendar of events

November 1, 15  – Redwood Hike
8:30 – 10 a.m.
Join OC Parks' trained staff on the first and third Saturday of the month for an easy 1.1-mile hike to the park's Coastal Redwood grove. You will use your 5 senses to engage with nature as you stroll to the Redwoods. You will also have an opportunity to learn about our native plants along the way. The hike begins each Saturday and Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m. from the park's Nature Center. Don't forget to visit our Nature Center when you are there, too!
Location: Carbon Canyon Regional Park. 4442 Carbon Canyon Road, Brea, CA 92823
Cost: Free Parking: $5 per vehicle
Contact: (714) 973-3160
Special Instructions: All ages. Participants should remember water, sunscreen, hat, hiking shoes. Meet at Nature Center located at east end of the park. Reservations preferred, please call (714) 973-3160 or email carboncanyon@ocparks.com. A minimum group of 5 or more is needed for a staff led interpretive hike.

November 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 – Nature Walk 
9 – 10:30 a.m.
Join our Naturalists on a nature walk and learn about Trabuco Canyon animals and nature. Light to moderate walk on mostly paved roads. Meet at the Nature Center just inside the main entrance of the park.
Location: O’Neill Regional Park. 30982 Trabuco Canyon Road, Trabuco Canyon, CA 92678
Cost: Free Parking: $5 per vehicle
Contact: (949) 923-2260
Special Instructions: All ages welcome. Event is conditional on the weather.

November 1 – CPF Monthly Meeting 
9:30 – 11 a.m.
Interested in volunteering at Caspers Wilderness Park? Join the Caspers Park Foundation (CPF) for their monthly volunteer meeting held in the Caspers Wilderness Park Nature Center. This is a great opportunity to learn just what volunteers, do as well as meet others who love nature, the outdoors and preserving the park for all. 
General business meeting starts at 9:30 a.m., followed by an informative lecture presented by guest speakers at 10 a.m. November Guest Speaker – Kim Casey. Subject – OC Parks Volunteer Orientation. 
Location: Caspers Wilderness Park. 33401 Ortega Highway, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Cost: Free Parking: Free
Contact: (949) 923-2210
Special Instructions: Ages 16 years and up. For more information, call the park office at (949) 923-2210.

November 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 – Guided Interpretive Hike
10 – 11 a.m.
Join our naturalists on a nature walk and learn about the local plants, animals and history of Irvine Park. Light to moderate walking on both paved paths and trails.
Location: Irvine Regional Park. 1 Irvine Park Road, Orange, CA 92869 Website: www.ocparks.com/irvinepark/
Cost: Free Parking: $5 per vehicle 
Contact: (714) 973–6835
Special Instructions: All ages welcome. Meet at the Nature Center near the OC Zoo in parking lot #19.

November 1 – Family Hike
3 – 5 p.m.
Come and enjoy an easy, 2-mile family hike over moderate but uneven terrain (100-ft. elevation gain). Starting at Nix Nature Center we will hike one of the most diverse areas of the park under a canopy of oaks to Barbara’s Lake and back. Hike is led by Laguna Canyon Foundation volunteers.  Location: Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. 18751 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Cost: $2 donation per person Parking: $3 per vehicle
Contact: (949) 923-2235
Special Instructions:  Reservations required, sign-up online: www.lagunacanyon.org/activities. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, James Dilley Preserve (east side of Laguna Canyon Rd/Sr-133, just north of 73 Toll Road). For questions, call (949) 497-8324 M-F or (949) 923-2235 Sat/Sun.

November 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 – Ranger Led Campfire Program
8 – 9 p.m.
Join us on Saturday nights at the amphitheater for this Ranger led talk on local animal life, set to the glow of fire light. This event is only open to those camping at O’Neill Regional Park. No access for day use after sunset.
Location: O’Neill Regional Park. 30982 Trabuco Canyon Road, Trabuco Canyon, CA 92678
Cost: Free
Contact: (949) 923-2260 or (949) 923-2256
Special Instructions: All ages welcome. Event is outdoors and dependent on weather conditions. 

November 1 – Campfire Program
8 – 9 p.m.
Join us for a campfire program that may include a slide presentation, wilderness safety, games and activities for children, animal adaptations, skins and skulls, a live animal demonstration and a chance to visit the Nature Center. Topics may vary weekly.
Location: Caspers Wilderness Park. 33401 Ortega Highway, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Cost: Free Parking: $5 per vehicle
Contact: (949) 923-2210
Special Instructions: All ages welcome!

November 2 – A Walk in the Park
8:30 – 11 a.m.
Bring the family to view the landmark Aliso Creek restoration project and search for OC’s native wildlife on the Aliso Creek Trail East. This is a 2.5-mile, level terrain, leisurely hike (50-ft. elevation gain) through riparian (near water) and grassland habitats. Led by OC Parks Resource Specialist Rick Schaffer.
Location: Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. 28373 Alicia Parkway, Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
Cost: Free Parking: $3 per vehicle  
Contact: (949) 497-8324
Special Instructions: Ages 7 and up. Reservations required, sign-up online: www.lagunacanyon.org/activities. Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, Ranger Headquarters, 28373 Alicia Parkway (from southbound Aliso Creek Road, turn right on Alicia Parkway, first right on Awma Road, left into parking lot). For questions, call (949) 497-8324 M-F or (949) 923-2200 Sat/Sun.

November 2 – Meditating in Nature
3:30 – 5 p.m.
Relax in nature.  Enjoy walking meditation, breathing and energization exercises, and sitting meditation. Bring a blanket and a pillow. No experience necessary.
Location: Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. 18751 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Cost: $2 donation per person Parking: $3 per vehicle
Contact: (949) 923-2235
Special Instructions:  Ages 16 and up. Online reservations required, sign-up online: www.lagunacanyon.org/activities. Little Sycamore Canyon Staging Area/Nix Nature Center (west side of Laguna Canyon Road/SR-133, approximately 3.5-miles south of I-5/405). For questions, call (949) 497-8324 M-F or (949) 923-2235 Sat/Sun.

November 4, 8, 18, 22 – Modjeska House Tour 
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Docent-led tour of the historic house and grounds.
Location: 25151 Serrano Road, Lake Forest, CA 92630-2534
Contact: (949) 923–2230
Cost: $5 per person
Special Instructions: Advance reservations required, call (949) 923-2230. Directions provided with reservations. 

November 6 – Fitness Hike at Dilley 
8:30 – 10:30 a.m.
Raise your heart rate and your spirits on this strenuous, fast-paced, 5.5-mile hike over steep and uneven terrain (900-ft. elevation gain) with Laguna Canyon Foundation volunteers. 
Location: Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. 18751 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Cost: $2 donation per person Parking: $3 per vehicle
Contact: (949) 923-2235
Special Instructions:  Ages 15 and up. Reservations required, sign-up online: www.lagunacanyon.org/activities. James Dilley Preserve (405 South to 133 South to stoplight at 73 turn-off; make a U-turn, go 1 block. Dilley is on the right). For questions, call (949) 497-8324 M-F or (949) 923-2235 Sat/Sun.

November 6, 13 – Tideland Tykes
10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Join our preserve staff for a fun-filled parent and child experience that may include arts and crafts, storytelling, hands-on activities or outdoor nature walks. Come prepared for an exciting outdoor experience!
Location: Upper Newport Bay. 2301 University Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660
Cost: $5 per student Parking: Free
Contact: (949) 923-2290
Special Instructions: Ages 2 to 8 years recommended. Space is limited and registration is required. Please call (949) 923-2275, or email unbic@ocparks.com to register.

November 6 – Seaweed, Salmon & Manzanita Cider 
6 p.m.
Join us for our opening reception of “Seaweed, Salmon and Manzanita Cider.” Jeannine Pedersen, Archaeology Curator at the Dr. John D. Cooper Center will provide a short history talk on our local Orange County Indian tribes at 6 p.m. on November 6, 2014. Dessert and cider will be served.
The traveling exhibition includes:
  • Historic contemporary California Indian artifacts used to hunt, gather and process California Indian native foods.
  • Historic contemporary photographs of California Indian peoples gathering, preparing and enjoying traditional food.
  • Contemporary photographs of Indian food resources.
  • Preserved or processed examples of types of California Indian foods.
  • Recipe pads allowing visitors to take home some ways to enjoy California Indian foods  
Location: Old County Courthouse. 211 W. Santa Ana Blvd., Santa Ana, CA 92701
Cost: Free to the public
Contact: (714) 973-6605

November 7 – Explore the Plants on the Trail to Barbara’s Lake
9 – 11:30 a.m.
Join us on a wonderful morning walk to Orange County’s only natural lake while learning about our native California plant life. This 2-mile leisurely hike will be led by Laguna Canyon Foundation volunteer naturalists.
Location: Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. 18751 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Cost: $2 donation per person Parking: $3 per vehicle
Contact: (949) 923-2235
Special Instructions:  Ages 8 and up. Online reservations required, sign-up online: www.lagunacanyon.org/activities. Little Sycamore Canyon Staging Area/Nix Nature Center (west side of Laguna Canyon Road/SR-133, approximately 3.5-miles south of I-5/405). For questions, call (949) 497-8324 M-F or (949) 923-2235 Sat/Sun.

November 7, 19 – Wild North America – Preschool Program 
10 – 11 a.m.
Come find out what kinds of animals we find on our own continent! Class includes hands-on learning, spooky crafts, and meeting zoo animals up close.
Location: Orange County Zoo. 1 Irvine Park Road, Orange, CA 92869
Website: http://www.ocparks.com/oczoo/
Cost: $5 per child (one parent included) Parking: $3 per vehicle
Contact: (714) 973-6846
Special Instructions: PHONE REGISTRATION REQUIRED. Call Marcy Crede-Booth, Education Coordinator at (714) 973-6846. For ages 3 to 4 years old. Parent must accompany child for duration of program. Additional parents/siblings/family/friends must pay admission fee to enter zoo.

November 7, 14, 28 – Wild Tales
10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Visit with Preserve staff for story-telling fun! After a story, learn more about the natural history of the Bay through crafts, hands-on activities and nature walks. Come prepared for an exciting outdoor experience!
Location: Upper Newport Bay. 2301 University Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660
Cost: $5 per student Parking: Free
Contact: (949) 923-2290
Special Instructions: Ages 2 to 8 years. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. Please call (949) 923-2275, or email unbic@ocparks.com to register.  

November 7 – Irvine Regional Park Night Owl Hike
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Come see Irvine Regional Park in a completely different setting – in the dark!  Park rangers will lead a starlit hike showcasing the natural wonders that can only be seen at night.  The Night Owl Hike will feature many fun activities including:
  • A visit to the nature center.
  • Live animal presentation.
  • Hike through the wilderness area.
  • Hot cocoa and cookies.
Location: Irvine Regional Park. 1 Irvine Park Road, Orange, CA 92869 Website: www.ocparks.com/irvinepark/
Cost: Free Parking: Free
Contact: (714) 973–6835
Special Instructions: This is an outdoor event. Please dress warmly with good walking shoes and a flashlight. Park in parking lot #19, near the Nature Center.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Occoneechee Mountain State Recreation Area (North Carolina)

The Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area is recognized as one of the most important natural areas inside the Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill Triangle in North Carolina. The Occoneeche Mountain State Natural Area provides great hiking through various habitats that support species that area rare and significant to this region. This area provides fun hiking and outdoor recreation opportunities for the entire family.

Directions to Trailhead: To hike in the Occoneeche Mountain State Natural Area, from I-85 take exit 164, turn north onto Churton Street, turn left at the stop sign onto Orange Grove Road, and turn right onto Virginia Gates Road and follow the signs all the way to the parking area. The address of the Occoneeche Mountain State Natural Area is 625 Virginia Cates Road, Hillsborough, NC 27278. There is no cost for parking at the trailhead area. The park hours are as follows: November - February, 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.; March, April, September & October, 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.; and May - August, 8 a.m. - 9 p.m. the park is closed on Christmas Day.

Description of Hike: The Occoneeche Mountain State Natural Area contains 190 acres of land and more than three miles of hiking trails. The area is situated around Occoneeche Mountain Summit (867 feet) which rises 350 feet from the Eno River and is the highest point between Hillsborough, North Carolina and the Atlantic Ocean. The hike Ashley and I completed was the Occoneeche Mountain Loop Trail which is 2.2 miles in length with an elevation gain of just over 300 feet. The Occoneeche Mountain Loop Trail is well marked and is easy to follow. The hike features hilly terrain through mature oak forests and goes along the Eno River.  There are several side trails, one we did was the rock quarry view trail below the rock quarry. The Occoneechee Mountain Loop Trail is marked by red circles throughout the park. For a Occoneechee Mountain State Recreation Area park map, click Here.

Further Thoughts: Ashley and I really enjoyed our hike in the Occoneechee Mountain State Recreation Area. We saw several other park visitors while were hiking there and we also got a chance to talk with a very nice park ranger. The summer weather was great with a slight breeze and temperatures in the mid 80s. While on our hike we saw fish, turtles, toads, frogs, a hawk, and several lizards. We found the hiking trails in the Occoneechee Mountain State Recreation Area easy to navigate and follow. The only minor downsides to this hiking area is the power lines running through a portion of the park as well as the close proximity to roads at times.

There are two little fishing ponds that are near the trailhead area where you can go fishing, if that is your cup of tea. The Occoneechee ponds are great for catching bass and bream on worms, crickets, and lures. The Eno is a great place for fly-fishing, casting lures, or baiting with the ever reliable worms and crickets. Most of the river can be waded and there are many openings for bank fishing. Commonly caught game fish include largemouth bass, bluegill, redbreast sunfish, and the feisty Roanoke bass. Roanoke bass, locally know as "red-eye" are found in only four river drainages in northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia. Chubs and bullheads add to the fishing fun. All North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission fishing regulations are enforced.

The Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area showcases a diversity of natural communities, and such diversity is found nowhere else in the Triangle area. The relatively undisturbed forest of the ridge top includes one of the best chestnut oak stands in the region. And, the mountain area itself, adjacent to the upper Eno River, is important wildlife habitat. The acorns and berries produced by the chestnut oaks and other area plants support a population of animals, including deer, groundhog and wild turkey.

The top of Occoneechee Mountain's ridge and northern slopes provide habitat for a wide variety of wildlife species that are typically found in the mountains, and some plant species reach their easternmost limits here. These include Bradley's spleenwort and wild sarsaparilla. Catawba rhododendron is present on the steep rock outcrop adjacent to the ravine, and a mountain laurel-galax community grows on the ravine's slopes. Sweet pinesap, another rare plant, also grows here, along with large witch-alder. Yet another mountainous species that grows in the natural area is the purple fringeless orchid.

In addition, several rare animal species found nowhere else in the region are present in the park. These include the brown elfin butterfly. Separated by more than 100 miles from other brown elfin populations in the mountains, the brown elfin butterfly is believed to have survived at Occoneechee Mountain since the Ice Age. Although the brown elfin is found virtually nowhere else in the Piedmont, the population on Occoneechee Mountain is quite large.

Researchers believe that the area's habitat has remained relatively unchanged since the last Ice Age due to the presence of brown elfin, a rare butterfly, as well as several unique plant species. The brown elfin is typically found in mountainous and northern areas, and the nearest brown elfin population to Occoneechee Mountain is more than 100 miles west. When the Piedmont's habitat underwent enormous transformations after the Ice Age, the area became unable to support the brown elfin and other species more accustomed to cooler environments. Brown elfins, believed to have once populated the Piedmont, were restricted to the state's mountains. However, the brown elfin butterflies at Occoneechee Mountain remained.

Rating: Elevation Gain: 300 ft. (Easy), Distance: 2.2 Miles Roundtrip (Easy)

Time to Complete Hike: 1 - 2 hours.