Sunday, October 4, 2020

Oak Glen Preserve, Yupaipa, CA

Hiked Saturday, September 26, 2020.  The Oak Glen Preserve and adjoining Riley's at Los Rios Rancho has been a regular getaway for me for about as many years as I've kept this blog.  I love their apple selection, their apple pies, and the trails of the Preserve, not necessarily in that order.  So it was a shock over the weekend to learn that the farm shop and bakery burned over the weekend (early on the morning of Friday, October 2, 2020).
I had hiked there less than a week earlier.  First visit in a while, because of the combination of Coronavirus, brushfires, and so forth.  In fact, the El Dorado fire had threatened the entire community of Oak Glen just last month, and the Apple Fire similarly affected them in August.  So, finally, last weekend, I took advantage of a long-awaited break in the smoke of local fires to visit.  Arrived a little after 9am, when the shop used to open, bought some apples and a pie, put them in an ice chest, then headed into the Preserve.
Walked around the lower ("Red Wing") pond, up around the upper (Duck) pond, made my way down the canyon, then headed up to Preservation Point.  Walking those trails is somewhere around 4 miles.  That's relatively short, but, as is often the case, I only had a little time there before having to head back.  It worked out fine.
On my way in, I noticed that the big dirt parking area down in Yucaipa (for a hiking/mountain biking trail I've still never been on) was appropriated as a staging area for fire fighters.  The El Dorado Fire was now well away from Oak Glen, but still burned.
In walking around the Preserve, I saw fire damage in the wildlands in three directions.  The hills immediately north of Oak Glen, once tree-covered, were now bare.  Also, to the south and east, the hills were burned to quite close to the  farm areas.  The photo above is looking over Riley's Farm, across the road from the Preserve and further along the loop from Los Rios Rancho.  Obvious burn scar there, probably from the Apple Fire.
The photo above was looking south, from the Preservation Point trail.
This one is looking from the top of the Preservation Point trail, along the boundary fence, looking to the northeast.
Looking towards Mount San Jacinto.
And, finally, looking north, over the farm and shop area of Los Rios Rancho.  The parking lot is visible near the bottom right.  The buildings that burned were adjacent to that lot.  Barren hills, to the north.

The brush fires were sad enough, but losing the shops, after they had to close twice for those brush fires made this a really tough year for the Riley Family.  

As the linked-story notes, they are operating a limited set of services off of their farm lands, to the north of Oak Glen Road.  I wish them luck in rebuilding. There's a gofundme mentioned in that article, as well.

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