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6 Secret Wild Places of Orange County's Canyons

Updated on October 24, 2017
Believe In Love profile image

Adventurist, Sidecar riding, Trabuco Canyon host on Airbnb (we are the ones with the white peacocks in our backyard).

1. Rancho Las Lomas

Lions, Tigers and Llamas!  (Ok, no mountain lions here). This is a great start to begin with our secret tour of the canyons of Orange County.
Lions, Tigers and Llamas! (Ok, no mountain lions here). This is a great start to begin with our secret tour of the canyons of Orange County. | Source

Rancho Las Lomas

Enjoy visiting for 1/2 a day at Rancho Las Lomas. They have a Wine Tasting Room, gardens and of course many different types of wild animals including Siberian Tigers, emus, zebras, llamas, and exotic birds! There is an ongoing Groupon for wine-tasting and tour.

2. Haunted Hills of Black Star Canyon, Silverado Canyon

Black Star Canyon was first inhabited by the Tongva-Gabrieliño Native American tribes. Explore stone grinding tools and other artifacts used by these people of antiquity. In the days of the Wild West era, these people were killed in mass for stealing horses of ranchers nearby. There are guided tours of this and two other canyon areas (Mesa and Baker) in the link below. Baker is noted for its varied native wild bird habitat.

Black Star Canyon, Indian village site
Black Star Canyon, Indian village site | Source

3. Cook's Corner - This Biker Hangout Is a Mini Sturgis on the Weekends!

Cool biker atmosphere is a who's who in the biker world. Live rock bands almost every night. A different type of wild life, and not something you see anywhere else...except Sturgis, of course. Here is a link for upcoming events!

Cook's Scene on any Sunday (or Saturday)

Bikes line up like dominos along Cook's entrance for 1/4 mile around the restaurant.
Bikes line up like dominos along Cook's entrance for 1/4 mile around the restaurant.

Cook's Corner Nightlife

4. The Wild Culture of Silverado Canyon

Each canyon community has it's own flavor. Trabuco Canyon leans more of the Disneylandish kind of wild with theme type restaurants and amusement. Modjeska Canyon is noted for its wildlife and nature conservancy (Tucker Wildlife and Modjeska House). Which brings us to Silverado Canyon. Silverado is like a 1/2 step back to the Wild West culture. People there are more independent thinkers, the rugged individualistic culture of Orange County. No other canyon is more isolated from suburbia than Silverado. In it, you won't find any chain restaurant, grocery store, or anything to do with Wall Street. It is a "one off" place. You just got to go there to see it, embrace it, and find out what it is like. A good place to start is the Silverado Cafe. From there go further in the canyon to the "Narrows" which give an Old West feel to the place. Silverado was settled as a mining community for silver ore. It is NOT a ghost town, it is very much alive and a good representative of what the Old West would have evolved into without Wall Street.

Silverado Cafe

5. Modjeska Canyon

As mentioned before, Modjeska Canyon is a small community dedicated to wildlife preservation. This is a unique community for taking a naturalist approach to life. To their credit, they have "Tucker Wildlife Conservatory" and "Modjeska House" which are free tours. I am including links below for these places.

Tucker Wildlife Conservancy is a self guided pathed tour of various animals found in the canyons and include kiosks about them at various stops. Animals on exhibit are turtles, small wildlife birds, fish, etc. All set in their natural environment they might be found in the wild.

"Modjeska House" is a founding lady of Modjeska canyon who was an actress at the turn of the 20th century. "Arden" is the name she gave her compound where her house (restored in it's original state) resides.

Madame Modjeska in front of her "Arden"

6. Trabuco Canyon

Of all the canyon communities, this place is the most animal oriented. Horses, peacocks, goats, llamas, etc.

They also have several restaurants that revolve around a theme: Trabuco Steakhouse is a laid back bar/restaurant that will cut your tie off if you dare wear one inside their doors. Rose Canyon Cantina is a Mexican restaurant/bar has creekside patio seating (creek is seasonal). Cook's Corner (mentioned above), and Rancho Las Lomas (also mentioned above) are located within this canyon area.

If you are looking for a place to stay the night, I recommend an Airbnb hostel within walking or short drive distance to these restaurants. It has access to private trails and has beautiful white peacocks on the premises. If a sidecar motorcycle ride is on your bucket list, they would be happy to help you tour the canyons (for a small fee per person). Their link is below.

I have lived in and around the canyons for many years. Things are always changing. Sometime for the good, others for the bad. Irvine Lake was closed to the publ

Submit a Comment

  • Believe In Love profile imageAUTHOR

    Heather Hill 

    14 months ago from Trabuco Canyon

    I miss Irvine Lake....


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