Whiting Ranch Wilderness Travel Guide

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Our Lord's Candle atop Dreaded Hill

Joel Sax

Whiting Ranch Wilderness is a regional park created to extend the habitat of the endangered mountain lion.  The area is criss-crossed by knife-blade sharp sandstone ridges and deep canyons where live oaks and sycamores enforce the cool during the torrid summer months.

Mountain bikers, equestrians, and hikers frequent the park's trails.  Bikers prefer the Whiting Loop which includes the Borrego Trail, Mustard Road, the Cactus Trail, the steep Sage Scrub Trail, the Whiting Road, and the Serrano Cow Trail.  The loop is completed by following Portola Parkway back to the main parking lot.

Hikers most frequently enjoy the Borrego Trail which leads across a wooden foot bridge to the Red Rock area, a small piece of Moab-style sandstone in the middle of the Southern California urban wilderness.  Hardy types love the Dreaded Hill Loop which surmounts a gigantic panther paw shaped foothill.

Trailheads are located on Portola Parkway, Glenn Ranch Road, and at Concourse Park on Saddleback Ranch Road in Lake Forest/Portola Hills.

Park users should be aware of the continual presence of mountain lions.  In January 2004, two bikers were attacked and one killed.  The fatality had stopped to fix the chain on his bike.  The second biker merely blundered into the kill area after this first attack.  A friend saved her. 

Among the lessons learned from this:  Never stoop, even momentarily in mountain lion country.  If you see a lion, stop and stand your ground, making loud noises and attempting to appear larger.  Do not bring small children into the park:  they are a favored prey of hungry lions.  Call the park office to report any mountain lion sightings.