Hiking the Holler~

The Holler is surrounded by thousands of empty acres.

It has many oak groves, and permanent and seasonal creeks running through it.

900 of these acres are set aside as a permanent nature preserve, and many more 1000’s of acres are still free from human development.

There are no hiking trails or public access, but we live adjacent to the preserve and hike it several times a week.

The Holler was first settled in the 1890’s and consisted of 2,700 acres. It was a working ranch for much of its history. Crumbling fences and old ranch dirt roads remain. We hike the dirt roads, and game trails, which are everywhere.

This is the lower pasture below our house, and this is where we access the preserve.

Since people are not here, The Holler is full of wildlife and has an entirely different feel from hiking in parks that people frequent. This natural ecosystem is unique for over-developed Southern California.

We see oodles of tracks, coyotes, bobcat, cougar, raccoon, but no deer. There are no deer because there are too many predators for them to survive. There are lots of kill sites and bones scattered around, but I will spare you photos of these, even though I have them.

And of course there are hundreds of birds! Cheers to you from the still wild Holler~

334 thoughts on “Hiking the Holler~

  1. Definitely a rarity for SoCal. You are fortunate to have access to such pristine wilderness. Is it managed by a Conservancy or is it private land? And it is now so green – rain helps!

    1. In summer it looks entirely different, dry, but the trees are green and the creek keeps flowing which of course attracts wildlife in parched SoCal. We have been having rain, not lots, but still steady and it is so very needed! The state owns the preserve for now, and is negotiating with a conservator, but so far no decision. I have heard a rumor that several hundred more acres will be added to it.

  2. What an amazing location you live in, Cindy. I think how lucky you must be to live in an area where they are still signs of wildlife.
    Right on your doorstep too. As Eliza said, it is so green.

  3. That looks like a truly wondrous place. SoCal has several surprising natural preserves. One place I visited, in 2013, which had few other visitors, is Carbon Canyon Regional Park, Brea-just west of Chino Hills State Park. It has Orange County’s only stand of Coastal Redwoods.

    1. You are right, SoCal does have these amazing pockets of nature preserves. Smart people have been working for a long time to make this happen. I didn’t know about about Carbon Canyon having redwoods! That’s amazing. I want to go! I have lived in Cali all my life, but she never stops surprising me! Thanks for telling me.

  4. Oh how fabulous! I am green from a rain of envy. My twenty-seven years in my “Winnie,the Pooh Hundred Acre Wood” were the happiest of my eight-one years., And that was tiny compared to your wilderness. Each season brings such a variety of wild flowers and fascinating weeds and changing landscape and new treasures. We had a cold clear rock bottomed creek that had coral fossils from when Tennessee was under a sea. Holding something that old blew me away. We camped out and hiked and took jeep rides at night to see the Great American Horned owl in its perch. It had at least a five foot wing span. We had a lonesome bobcat, nothing predatory larger than those. Wonderful memories. Think of me when you are hiking or riding. Do you have horses?

    1. Oh my, your memories sound incredible! I can tell they just poured out of you. Nature gives us so much joy because we are an integral part of it. I want to go back in time and travel with you to see the Great Horned Owls. We have two who frequent our roof. We hoot back and forth and they skim my hair in the dark when they tire of me and want me to go inside! We don’t have horses, but are zoned for it. I would love to get miniature donkeys.

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  6. What a gorgeous area – especially after rain! You made a brilliant decision to settle there. To be able to hike freely where there are now no people but you is a great gift! Undisturbed wild life is always a wonder. Blessings on your acres ; we would all love to visit!

    1. Oh I would love for you to visit! I hope you do! It is a remarkable place for SoCal. It is like a hidden wild pocket. It reminds of what SoCal was like when I was a child. Hope all is well with you and Marion.

  7. What a magical, peaceful place you live in Cindy. Do you still own the 2700 acres? How far away are your nearest neighbors? Thank you for giving us a peep at your paradise I would love to walk along those trails with you looking for the wild life,

    1. No we don’t own 2,700 acres! I wish!!! The original ranch was 2700 acres back in the 1890’s. We live on a orchard adjacent to the original ranch. There are houses scattered around the preserve perimeter, but not many, and each is on many acres. We actually live somewhat close to people by Holler standards, but still they are far enough away to have total privacy. I might actually see a neighbor a couple times a year at most.

    1. Awww, thanks much. I like the fact that there is this little hidden away place that is like the California I remember as a child, before all the development ran amuck, and I love living with the wild ones.

  8. A little slice of heaven on Earth you have there in your Holler! I think I would love hiking there too.

    That hawk was lovely, as are all the oaks, and wonderful green grass. I’m loving our green hills. Winter is the best time for them en mon avis.

    1. You and Don should come down. It’s a bit of under-developed SoCal, that somehow escaped human notice and destruction. I love living with the wild ones, even though the really smart ones, evade me. I only see their tracks.

    1. Yep. You are right. It doesn’t look like most California images, but this is what undeveloped, rural SoCal looked like 50 years or so ago, in winter, after the rains came. Thankfully no one can buy most of it. The state owns it, and it is designated as a permanent nature preserve.

  9. So beautiful, and there for you. What makes you different is you actually go and enjoy and experience it all. How many live beside this beauty and never take that walk. More photos please!!

  10. as I look out on a rather tired looking back garden (one of your yards, Cindy) and compare it to the Holler, it looks a little in need of love and, well, a bit of sunshine too. It will perk up come March – daffodils and crocuses are poking through already – but still, is it okay to admit to one tiny weeny tinge of envy. PS are any of your animal raptors – bobcat etc – an issue for you or are they more scared of you when you’re out than you are of them? I assume it would be different for domestic pets who would be fair game?

    1. When I first moved here, 10 1/2 years ago, I was seriously afraid of the predators, rattlers, scorpions, black widows and free range bulls. Now, I photograph all of them! Laughing….. We hike with bear spray, a marine horn (for wild domestic dogs), and a golf club. We only had to use the marine horn twice in all these years, both due to charging pit bulls. It works like a charm. Our cat’s vet was viscously mauled by a group of pit bulls and nearly died. The wild animals avoid us, but we are prepared, just in case. I am most cautious of abandoned dogs that become feral and hook-up with the coyotes, because they lack respect for humans for good reason, I am sure, since they were abused and abandoned by irresponsible dog owners and are now feral.

        1. I definitely have posted the black widows, the rattlesnakes, the coyotes, you can google my name and whatever critter you want to see. I haven’t posted the scorpions, so thanks for the idea!

  11. Heaven on Earth! So great the place has you who not only truly appreciates living there, but is a great photographer who captures its beauty so well for the rest of us to enjoy!

  12. These are lovely scenery. As I have seen many beautiful pictures of birds from Holler, Holler is also a heaven for birds and wild lives too. I am glad to learn there are efforts to preserve spaces/lands from human development.

  13. It looks like paradise!!! 😀
    Keep it quiet, dear Cindy! Someone might get ideas and turn it into a hell for nature and all the wildlife there!… 🙂

    1. This is quite true, which is why I give it a fictional name and don’t post on it often. Access is difficult and trespassing is illegal. Hunters are not welcome and the sheriffs are called if they dare to trespass.

  14. Thanks for sharing your beautiful holler home Cindy. I would love to live there or a similar place with undisturbed nature as my neighbor! As you mentioned, I bet it looks and feels very different than most parks. Holler hugs!

  15. It’s great to be surrounded by so much preserve. I love the blue skies and sunshine. I live in the middle of thousands of acres of forest. Love it, but sometimes I miss the big sky. 🙂

  16. What a stunning place to live, Cindy! Thank you for sharing The Holler with us. I now have a clearer vision of you and your camera hiking these trails to bring us up close to Nature!

  17. I’m on the next plane, I’ll eco camp for about a month. That should be enough time to get a feel of the place. I love natural rivers, shallow then wide, walk across. I love undisturbed land and making sure it stays the way the Indians left it. Have a great day. 🙂

    1. You would love it here. We wear handmade Chippewa boots that are water and snake resistant and cross and recross the streams multiple times on each hike. I love it too <3

        1. Here is a link to them. They are expensive, but so worth it. They are fully water and rattlesnake resistant. My husband and I have worn them constantly for 10+ years and they NEVER show any signs of wear. They have good grip in the soles and they have protected me from snakes and all sorts of other nasty things. They are completely comfortable once you break them in and they are great looking.

  18. I love your opening statement that the Holler is surrounded by thousands of empty acres. And then you go on to write about the life and joy that are contained in these same acres . What a wonderful way to remind me that we must integrate our lives with the glorious world around us.

    1. Thank you Rebecca <3 10 1/2 years ago I worried I made a mistake moving here, I wasn't used to living amongst all the wild things. Now I could never happily return to living in civilization and the wild critters are my best neighbors!

    1. Yeeks! That is soooo cold! I recently listened to this climatologist talk about the polar vortex when it splits twice, and then, rarely splits three times, which is has just apparently done. It means very cold weather has flown to where you are. Love to you Resa and stay warm <3

  19. Wow! How fortunate you are Cindy to live on the edge of nature! We share that wondrous experience here in Virginia although we are on the edge of only a 700 acre tract. Still, there are bob cats, turkeys, foxes, bears, and deer.

    1. It is only green like this a couple of months of the year, when the rains come. It is more like South Africa in terms of vegetation the rest of the time, but the creek always flows, even in the parched summer, which keeps the wildlife here, and this green corridor of living oaks and sycamores thriving like a green thread by the water.

      1. Your description could be a poem; it is a metaphor for so many things in life: “but the creek always flows, even in the parched summer, which keeps the wildlife here, and this green corridor of living oaks and sycamores thriving like a green thread by the water.”

    1. It took some getting used to, 10 1/2 years in, I am used to being here, Iove it, and could never ever live in the suburbs or city again. But it is definitely not for everyone. Lots of people would not like it. I’m glad I am not one of them.

    1. So, when are you and Wolfie coming down? I can make him howl. I did it with my friends two wolves, and it puts the coyotes in their places! (You think I am kidding, but I am not).

  20. Your photos of The Hollar are just as beautiful as all of those you’ve shared and taken while on all those awesome wonderful trips taken abroad and in state. I have been busy but not so much at writing. So, wanted to stop in and say, “Hi”. Take care and God bless, Cindy.

  21. What a beautiful place! Isn’t it hard to leave on your trips? (Kidding. The trips are likely made even more enjoyable by knowing what you are returning to.)

    The last photograph–a great gard-bird looking out for all the little lives in the Holler. I know he has to eat, but still it appears that he is fiercely, almost passionately, protective.

    1. You are so prescient. The hawks watch us all the time, they accompany us on hikes, along with the hummingbirds. It has been 10 1/2 years now that we have lived here. They seem to accept us as a non-harmful part of their ecosystem. They seem to watch us, know us, and greet us when we return from a long trip. We have a very long and steep driveway. As soon as we drive down after we are gone for a long time, they are are close in the air seemingly greeting us. I always feel happy seeing them, because I am back with the hawks.
      When I am home, they fly super low by the windows and make me get up and let me get photos, and they let me get close too, when they alight on trees.
      When I see them in the air, I intuitively know they are here, and I feel better.

  22. Oh my goodness, what a wealth of wildness. My heart leaps to know there are 900 acres of wilderness in southern California. And how fortunate to live next door. Great post, Cindy, thank you — and happy hiking!

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  24. I am absolutely entranced. I too live in Southern California, and clearly I do not know this part. I live in the Inland Empire, in Yucaipa. Do you have a ranch or a farm, and I would love to know the story of how you came to live where you are. It is absolutely beautiful. Loved the photos of some part of the wildlife too.

    1. I know Yucaipa.
      California is amazing isn’t she!
      There is more diversity contained here in every way, than anywhere I have traveled.
      The greatest thing about blogging, for me, is meeting people like you.
      Wonderful to meet you, and look forward to getting to know you.

  25. Bonjour ou bonsoir mon amie et belle CINDY

    La mélodie du cœur
    Celle que l’on entend qu’une fois et qui nous transporte si loin
    Au delà des nuages et au delà des paysages

    La mélodie du cœur ne s’invente pas elle s’écoute
    Elle est si belle
    La mélodie du cœur
    Elle nous transporte, fait pousser des ailes d’anges dans le dos
    Qu’elle te transporte au paradis là ou tout est éternel
    Que ce weekend à venir soit une explosion de bonheur avec tes proches
    Bonne journée ou belle soirée
    gros bisous

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