Coto de Caza: The Trails Pt. 01 – Sawgrass & Eucalyptus Trails

There are a few trails in Coto de Caza that I love hiking on and would recommend to anyone if you’ve got a little time, some decent shoes and a love for nature. I thought I’d break the trails apart so each could stand on its own.
The first I’m doing is the Sawgrass Trail that begins where the street of Sawgrass ends; it winds around a large custom home and then starts right up a hill covered by fire-blackened oaks that have since returned to a partial glory.
Here are a few photos from a couple recent hikes there:


This is taken near the Sawgrass trailhead; the oaks are still repairing after a fire that swept over the hills and into this little valley several years ago.


The undergrowth is pretty grown in with softwood trees and shrubs filling in nicely.


It had rained the night before and we were probably the first to walk on the trail, leaving our footprints in the sandy washes, alone save for the deer and coyotes.


The ridge in the distance is part of the Orange County trail system; I think it is called the Westridge Trail. I couldn’t pass up the dramatic old oak, half alive, still an imposing figure guarding the trail.


A study in greens, from neon new grass growth to the warm dark greens of the oaks to the silvery greens of the sage.


A hobbit’s-eye view of the new growth. My sister in the background, probably sniffing some plant and wondering what she could slice, chop, dice or cook it with. You go, Chez Barrrette!


A wood fungus growing on an old burnt oak log. I don’t know what the green plants with the dimpled leaves are jutting out, but they were so vibrant… a riot of green.


Down through the center of this photo is the Sawgrass trailhead; Coto de Caza is in the distance.


I was walking with my sister who is a brilliant cook and when she saw this little fern-like plant poking up through the grass she dropped to her knees and started wondering aloud if this was edible and what she could do with it and how it would pair famously with a slice of prosciutto and fig, maybe with a little truffle oil and black pepper and by that time I was down on the ground taking pictures thinking how great an image it would make…


A very small little wildflower we picked out on the ground; this was probably as big as a kernel of corn. The fuscia was brilliant.


This is the mouth to the Eucalyptus Trail. At this point we were descending from the Sawgrass Trail and moving onto the Eucalyptus Trail.


This was right after we disappeared under the canopy. I’m sure someone will correct me at some point, but I don’t think eucalyptus are native to southern California, so it was interesting to see a stand of eucalyptus that had made itself perfectly at home in this small little canyon.


Thinking about that last statement, perhaps this was a rancher’s border at some point. The stand of eucalyptus runs in a fairly straight line, though there are certainly breakaways from the stand… in any case, it was eucalyptus-scented heaven standing in this damp glade… the crunch of bark underfoot, drops of water still dropping from the leaves… everything smelling so perfectly clean…


This is on the way out… that oak is amazing and enormous; I don’t understand the physics operating on that branch that stretches over the trail – how can it be so far from the trunk, so thick and almost level to the ground?

Here’s a map of the trails:

View Larger Map
Now go hike something!

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