On April 13, the city of Highland hosted its twenty-fifth annual Community Trails Day: a day devoted to hiking in the city. It is used to promote the trails that run through and along the local hills. Additionally, it brings together the community to heighten awareness of fitness options and healthy lifestyle choices.
“It’s important to get the community aware that we have a trail system within the town, it’s not very well-known to the new people coming into town. A lot of them were the old service roads that went through the old orange groves,” said Tom Thornsley, the Associate Planner of the Planning Commission.
The event began at Aurantia Park at 8 a.m., where light snacks and water were provided before the hike. Maps of the trails along with pamphlets of photos of local flowers were given out to find the different types of blooms that had recently occurred, such as fiddlenecks, yellow pincushions, brittlebush, Spanish bayonet, the common sunflower and pride of Madeira.
Since the event is friendly to all ages, a scavenger hunt was provided that allowed children, as well as adults, to collect different items such as man made trash, which helped with keeping the trails clean.
The route taken consisted of a loop through five different trails: Alpin, Red Hill, North Fork and Shelton Trail. This loop is approximately 3.5 miles, which involves a mixture of flat ground hiking with a mild uphill excursion.
It was also optional to add approximately 0.8 miles by taking the Natural Parkland Trail route, which is a more moderate hike with slanted hills and narrow pathways, that loops through the mountain and connects back to the main trail.
By taking this optional route, there is a chance to view Plunge Creek, which runs into the Santa Ana River.
“I really enjoyed the event, it was the first time I attended a community event and I was really satisfied with the outcome because I was able to explore nearby trails that I didn’t even know existed near my home and I learned about plant life and wildlife around me,” said Angel Estrada, a community member of East Highlands. “I truly enjoyed the social aspect of the event, I saw people of all ages taking part, grandparents with grandchildren, young couples, groups of friends, and I even got to see a few dogs tagging along with their owners.”
While following Shelton Trail, hikers had the opportunity to attend the open house of Fire Station 542.
During the open house, water, cookies and Capri Suns were provided along with coloring books and firefighter stickers for children.
This portion of the hike gave participants a chance to take a seat and learn more about the equipment used by firefighters.
The route is often alternated each year, with a different starting point and trail system to open a variety of trails to past participants and newcomers.
“Sometimes we’ll do the route based on trails we are working on or sometimes we have private trails that they’ll let us use. A lot of the ways we get our new trails now is with the city when they’re doing new development, they kind of make it part of the plan that they have to put in a trail with part of their new subdivision,” said Laura, the Vice Chair of the Trails Committee.
Each year, the hike is typically scheduled in the second week of April. It is promoted by Facebook posts, however the best way to gather information for next year’s hike is from a local newspaper or City Hall.