In 2010, Carol Blaney moved with her family to Redlands CA from Yosemite National Park, where as an interpretive park ranger she worked with Yosemite’s stunning scenery as her backdrop. The transition was helped when Blaney came across Redland’s Herngt ‘Aki’ Preserve- formerly called Oakmont Park – she felt she had discovered a wild place. “It’s so full of life, with coyotes and hawks, cottontails and wildflowers that walking there rejuvenates the spirit. I’m really glad that the city is working so hard to protect Oakmont. It’s definitely a jewel in the Emerald Necklace,” she said.
It’s an especially nice time for a hike in the Redland Conservancy’s Oakmont Park, located where South Lane meets Sutherland Drive on the southeast side of Redlands. The chamise is greening up and the elderberry is putting on its bright green leaves, while the bees are finding the wild lilac that’s beginning to bloom throughout the park.
I’ve done several hikes there since December, and here’s what makes it a favorite area:
Great example of three native ecosystems
Walking, running or biking on the trails in Oakmont Park takes you through 3 ecosystems: mature chaparral, woodlands and a riparian area.
Chaparral (click here for more info) is the most extensive plant community in California, and its appreciation is growing. Chamise is the primary plant in Oakmont’s chaparral, along with black sage and buckwheat.
Shrubs include really large specimens of sugar bush, elderberry, and redberry, with the live oaks that dot the area giving Oakmont its name. On the north end, a creek supports frogs and birdlife.
On one trip, three red-tailed hawks were playing and soaring between taking rests in trees. My last trip a coyote loping up a sloping hill was the highlight, along with the constant calls of a raven couple. Cottontail rabbits and jackrabbits are plentiful (as noted in the coyote scat, it’s a favorite food source).
Oakmont offers great bird watching. In addition to ravens, red-tailed and sharp-shinned hawks, look for bluebirds, black-headed and Say’s phoebes, towhees (spotted and California), Nuttall’s woodpeckers, and California thrashers.
Be aware that there are also rattlesnakes. Bobcats, foxes and in the summer months, deer, are also sighted in Oakmont.
Distance/Trailhead: (Click here for map) The parking lot is where Sutherland Drive and South Lane meet. Oakridge Trail is an established trail 3.2 miles on long ithe western side of the park and provides a short uphill climb before traversing the hilltops. It provides great vistas of the San Timeteo Canyon and in the distance, the mountain ranges of the San Bernardino National Forest.
There are also numerous trails on the 172 acres of the park’s newly acquired land, which extends south from the park to Live Oak Canyon Road. The trails include level walking, traversing the river wash and a crisscrossing of trails on the hills. Many picnic tables are near the trailhead.