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Oak Glen Preserve Children’s Nature Trail – The Wildlands Conservancy

Oak Glen Preserve Children’s Nature Trail – The Wildlands Conservancy

The only thing I wanted to do in Oak Glen Preserve, besides picking apples, was check out The Wildlands Conservancy.

It turned out that our apple picking destination actually shares a parking lot with the Conservancy. You can read about the Rancho and our apple picking experience HERE

This is all about the Children’s Nature Trail which was THE highlight of our trip.

“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” – Shakespeare

Oak Glen Preserve Hiking

I love taking new trails. I like turning the corner and not knowing what I’m going to see. So I’m going to try NOT to show you ALL the cool stuff.  I want you and your family to discover it for yourself.

Start out at the entrance to the Montane Botanic Garden and Children’s Outdoor Discovery Center. We used to start out at the Ranger Station which is also an interpretive center. But now there are maps and usually someone staffing the desk at the entrance to the garden which leads to the trail.

Oak Glen Preserve Wildlands Conservancy ranger station

There are many options for how to do this hike. It seemed like a long 2 miles to me – because we stopped a lot and it was quite hilly. 

Start the hike at the Hawk Totem (have the kids try to find this landmark when you arrive!). 

Follow the trail past the Double Red Delicious apple grove.

There is a restroom here perfect for a stop and to fill up your water bottles at the drinking fountains. 

Make sure you meander through the California Tree Trail and read all the inspiring quotes engraved on the boulders.

Next you’ll come to the Reflection Pond.

oak glen preserve wildlands conservancy reflection pond

A beautiful spot! You’ll feel a surprise when you step on the dock. We stared in the water which appears black, but is actually incredibly clear. We saw bubbles and then all of the sudden . . . what should appear?

giant catfish in the oak glen preserve wildlands conservancy reflection pond

Just past the Reflection Pond, you’ll have an option to go to the Upper Pond.

We didn’t make it there. We headed down into the Oak Grove instead. 

I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination and only say you can make this a short loop by taking the Boardwalk.

It will lead you back to the Reflection Pond and you can double-back to the parking lot.

oak glen preserve wildlands conservancy boardwalk trail

If you continue on through the Oak Grove and down the hill, there are many more sights and sounds to greet you. We:

  • saw a paper wasp nest,
  • followed the stream,
  • did the Limbo under a tree branch,
  • listened to the water,
  • felt the mist and heard the hush of the clouds blowing through the trees,
  • smelled berries,
  • spotted ancient apple trees,
  • learned about wildfire,
  • and had a special opportunity to help trees grow.
oak glen preserve wildlands conservancy nature trail sign

Trip Planning Essentials

The Oak Glen Preserve shares a parking lot with the popular Los Rios Rancho.  Click here for The Wildlands Conservancy trail map.

  • Plan to go on a weekend
  • ARRIVE EARLY in the day during apple picking season – this place gets busy as the day progresses. The earlier you arrive, the easier time you’ll have with parking.
  • If I were to go again, I’d plan to get to the parking lot between 8 and 8:30am during apple picking. The ranger told us it’s much quieter along the trails during the off-season — so you wouldn’t be so constrained about arriving early.
  • Watch for weather. The Rancho is above 5000 feet and it can snow. There can even be mudslides if the rain is heavy due to recent fires. Also, we’ve been on a trip here where the fog was so thick we could barely see the road.
  • LOTS of hills and some steps if you do the full loop. Be prepared for uneven ground. Babies would do best in backpacks or baby slings. Jogger strollers would work for the short loop. Be prepared for a tight squeeze and some switchbacks on the longer loop and navigating some log stairs.
  • Three nice restrooms: 1) near the BBQ/Store and parking lot (currently under construction in 2023), 2) at the start of the Nature Trail before the California Tree Trail, and 3) at the end of the Nature Trail in Oak Knoll Park.
  • Bring a big picnic lunch to enjoy down in Oak Knoll Park at the end of your hike.

More posts on Oak Glen Preserve:

Originally posted in October 2010.

Christine Cabral

Thursday 16th of July 2015

I did not know about this hiking trail . I did yard sale today aND someone gave me this beautiful art work someone painted it and on back it says Oak Glen Nature Trail 1981 by D.Chapman . I'm an artist myself. And thus girl found this painting on garbage still mostly intact and beautiful. 1 side edge is little.rough but over all looks good . I just wonder if D. CHAPMAN had visited there at that time and give this to him .


Tuesday 25th of October 2011

I have been coming to Oak Glen for the past few years,we stop at Riley's farm followed by Los Rios Rancho. This month we have been to Oak Glen two weekends in a row. Well, just found out about the concervancy trails and the history,well guess what we will be making our third trip to Oak Glen just to walk those trails. Oh I love all the picture Opportunities and look foward to more . Cvera


Sunday 24th of October 2010

Hi Michelle, Great summary of the Nature Trails at the Oak Glen Preserve! I'm glad to know you followed the trail in earnest and that you appreciate the world-class park ammenities. There is something else you may yet discover...

Not only does the Oak Glen Preserve share a parking lot with the popular Los Rios Rancho, but the entire property of Los Rios Rancho is owned by The Wildlands Conservancy.

The Oak Glen Preserve is one of 12 preserves in California that is stewarded by The Wildlands Conservancy; all preserves are available for families to enter and enjoy a hike, picnic, outdoor education program and much more - all at no charge!

So come on out and explore some of the other gems that The Wildlands Conservancy has to offer the families of California. I think you will be surprised.

Happy Hiking, Paula


Tuesday 26th of October 2010

Thanks for visiting, Paula. I appreciate you sharing more about The Wildlands Conservancy with our readers.

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