As a wildlife sanctuary, Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park is home to an abundant number of native plants and animal life. Old groves of Western Sycamores and Coast Live Oaks border the park's two seasonally flowing creeks. The remaining land features rolling hills and canyons of Coastal Sage Scrub and grasslands.
This 544 acre wilderness park has five miles of multi-use and single track trails offering outdoor enjoyment for hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers. Ranger-led programs as well as self-guided hikes provide opportunities for the visitor to learn about the richness of this sanctuary. The park's outdoor "classroom" atmosphere offers students of all ages, scouts and other youth oriented organizations, a place to experience firsthand, the intricate relationships between the park's wildlife and habitat, offering an opportunity to work on outdoor projects and fulfill classroom requirements.
Parking is available for 50 vehicles including horse trailers. For equestrians, there are 4 pipe corrals and a watering fountain. Other amenities available are picnic tables, portable restrooms, drinking fountains and handicap access to the visitor center.
The Ranger Station houses a hands-on classroom and a variety of interpretive displays which highlight the park's wildlife and history. Surrounding the station is a one acre native plant butterfly garden, a large deck for picnicking and enjoying the views, and informational bulletin boards.
Significant traffic on unauthorized trails has caused damage in the Ladera Ridge (Las Flores) area of the park. This area is closed, and in the interest of protecting the valuable natural resources found on both County and the Rancho Mission Viejo Reserve, measures will be taken to prevent further destruction.
Starting Sunday, March 13, the spring-summer hours for regional parks are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. That includes Carbon Canyon, Clark, Craig, Laguna Niguel, Mason, Mile Square and Yorba regional parks. Irvine Regional Park opens at 6 a.m. and will close at 9 p.m. Wilderness parks are open at 7 a.m. and close at sunset year round.
The Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer (PSHB) is an invasive beetle that attacks common native and landscape trees, leading to branch dieback and overall decline. This can have a devastating effect on local trees, and you may see some being treated or removed in County parks.
Gold Spotted Oak Borer (GSOB), an invasive beetle that has killed thousands of oak trees in San Diego and Riverside counties in a short span of time, has now been detected in Orange County. The GSOB was discovered in approximately 60 trees on County park land in northern Orange County. Since GSOB is transported in oak firewood, it is critical that Californians keep firewood local and not move it out of the area.
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