As the Coachella Valley simmers in triple digit heat through the summer, there are plenty of nearby hikes that deliver comfortable warmth and greenery. The Oak Glen Nature Trail at the Oak Glen Preserve is one such escape that’s easy to reach.
Nestled in the San Bernardino Mountains, morning temps at the preserve usually hover in the 70s. The 2189-acre preserve sits close to a mile above sea level and is run by The Wildlands Conservancy.
The trail is a roughly 2-mile loop. A number of small side trails that loop back to the main route allow you to personalize the adventure based on your interests and energy.
To reach the trailhead, from the Coachella Valley take Interstate 10 west toward Cabazon. In Beaumont at Exit 94, turn right/north onto Beaumont Avenue. The street naturally becomes Oak Glen Road as rising into the foothills. Park in the first lot in the preserve’s entrance. Look for the Ranch Entry Gate to the west of the parking lot; that’s the trailhead.
The first portion of the dirt trail includes a couple of short interconnected loops on one side with a Double Red Delicious apple grove on the other.
Next the trail transitions through a small patch of fragrant conifers common to the Golden State. Mountains loom behind the trees. For a few moments, you actually feel like you’re in northern California.
The trail then circles around the Red-Wing Pond, which includes a small dock and next to it tiny frog ponds. One side of that loop passes a duck pond. The setting is quite tranquil, offering a beautiful reflection of blue sky and mountains.
Heading south from the Red-Wing Pond, the trail runs alongside a stream. It grows steep as gaining elevation; if you have trouble hiking steep areas, consider bringing a trekking pole or skipping this section and turning back the way you came.
If you do climb the hill, great views of the preserve below and the San Bernardino Mountains to the north await.
Near the top is another side trail, the Chaparral Loop, that heads through standard Southern California foothill terrain and fauna. It’s an interesting trail, especially as it nicely contrasts with the apple groves and conifers crossed earlier. Be aware that there’s no shade on this side trail.
A picnic area with open space for kids to run around on sits off the trail’s southern portion. It’s a great place to enjoy a snack or even an early lunch.
Coming off the hill, the trail heads through a more wooded area and circles back to a knoll thick in oak. From there, parallel the preserve road back to your parking lot.
Along the way, keep an eye out for giant sequoia. Extremely young and so not as tall compared to what you’ll find in northern California, especially at Sequoia, Kings Canyon or Yosemite national parks, they still are immense. They are an unusual sight, to say the least, in Southern California.
Among the many animals you’ll spot on the trail are quails, ducks, various songbirds, and possibly even deer. Coyote and bobcat tracks from their prowling the night before sometimes can be seen in the loose dirt.
After hiking the trail, you can visit the neighboring Riley’s at Los Rios Rancho Apple Farm – which is leased to apple growers by the conservancy – and pick apples, if the season is right. They usually are ripe September through December.
Dogs are allowed on the trail if kept on a leash. Bring your own water. Preserve entry and parking is free.