With all of the recent rain, we decided to check out the vernal pools at the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve in Murrieta, CA yesterday. We started at the Hidden Valley Trail Head.
Pay your fee and grab a map.
Decisions, decisions, decisions… we took the Trans Preserve Trail.
Looking back at the Hidden Valley Trail Head.
If you haven’t been here before, the trails are pretty easy to follow.
We’re not used to seeing water here…
One of my favorite parts of the trail…
For my wife who loves old, scraggly trees.
We’ve seen water here before, but not this much.
We continued on the Trans Preserve Trail…
This is another of my favorite spots. I love the sound when the grass is a little taller and the wind is a little stronger.
We jumped on to Ranch Road for a short walk to the Vernal Pool Trail. If you’re curious about the adobes, check out this post.
On our way to the vernal pools.
Many of the trails are flat, but this takes you uphill after a fairly flat start.
There are some great mountain views from this path… we also saw some big paw prints.
This is the first time we’ve seen the big vernal pool full. We have seen it completely dry, though.
We spoke to some other visitors who said this is the fullest they have ever seen the big pool.
Fairy shrimp? We have heard about them, but we have never seen them. I thought that the shrimp are supposed to be translucent. These are pink, so I’m not sure if these are the fairy shrimp or not. I took a few cell phone videos, and you can see smaller translucent creatures which definitely appear to be fairy shrimp. Either way, the water was full of them both.
From the Riverside County website: “Of the two species of fairy shrimp that live in the seasonal vernal pools on the Reserve, one is found only here and nowhere else on Earth!”
We continued along the Vernal Pool Trail to see the smaller pools.
Then we started to head back by taking the Los Santos Trail. Our timing was impeccable…
Just as we started along the trail, we were treated to a mini airshow. This is the first picture I took, but there are many more. I plan to put them in a separate post. UPDATE: Here is the post with pics and video of the aerobatics.
The steepest part of the trails we encountered yesterday…
This lizard is the extent of the wildlife we saw yesterday. In addition to birds, lizards and insects, we have also seen coyotes along the trails.
On our way back to the trail head.
My Garmin tells me that we went 5.65 miles, but I accidentally paused it for a bit so I think we did a little more.
For more information about the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, click here: www.rivcoparks.org/education/santa-rosa-plateau/santa-rosa-plateau/