Ah, the great outdoors. The fresh air and beautiful views really get your heart pumping. “Hiking boasts all of the classic health benefits you get from most cardio exercises,” say the avid hiking fans on fridayhealthplans.com. “It improves blood pressure, lowers your risk of heart disease, decreases cholesterol, and helps control your weight.”

A healthy hike reduces stress and staves off depression, too. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, studies on the mental health benefits of walking show it is “very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function.”

So, we understand WHY we should get outdoors and walk, but WHERE do we go? Fortunately, Park Plaza is close to some of the state’s most scenic and diverse hiking trails near Santa Ana. Before you go, check your trail’s website to get the most current information on trail closures or restrictions. Then, pack plenty of water, sunscreen, sturdy shoes, and hit the trails. Here are some popular trails to try.

Four Most Popular Advanced Hiking Trails 

1. Black Star Canyon

Black Star Canyon Trail is a 6.8-mile trail located near Silverado, California. Hiking to Black Star Canyon Falls is your reward for a job well done. Watch for poison oak, which is abundant on this trail.

2. Santiago Oaks Regional Park: Robber’s Roost

As part of a park area offering over 16 different trails, this trail is the easiest out of the four trails. It measures 1.6 miles and hosts plenty of wildflowers. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

3. Red Rock Canyon Trail

As one of the shorter trails—it measures 0.6 miles—the rock formations are well worth the climb. Keep in mind, no dogs are allowed on this trail.

4. Sierra Peak

You will want to pack plenty of water and snacks for this 10.9-mile hike. Allow plenty of time to view the amazing wildflowers, and Fido (leashed) is welcome on this trail.

Four Most Popular Day Hikes for Beginners

1. Tustin Branch Trail

Measuring just under three miles, this trail is great for bird watching, enjoying wildflowers, and walking your dog. The trail is pet- and kid-friendly.

2. Santa Ana River Trail-Santa Ana to Fountain Valley 

This 8.2-mile trail is perfect for a full-day hike, a long Sunday morning run, or a bike ride and features a river.

3. Chutes and Roadrunner Loop

This trail clocks in just over three miles. The terrain is ideal for running, mountain biking, or pushing a stroller to hunt for wildlife.

4. Windsor Park Loop

This trail is the perfect lunch break getaway. With a distance measuring 0.3 miles, grab your furry friend and get a quick burst of fresh air before finishing the rest of your day.

When the stresses of COVID-19 are getting you down, pack up and get ready for a relaxing and visually rewarding experience that sits right around the corner. Happy trails to you!