Rancho Mission Viejo has an abundance of outdoor spots where you can go to walk, relax and enjoy natural scenic beauty.
That got us wondering: what are some places recommended by an expert who works there?
We asked Leeta Latham, executive director for The Nature Reserve—RMV’s sprawling untouched preserve—for pointers.
“It is difficult to choose ‘favorite spots’ on The Nature Reserve, because there are so many, but I’ll name just a few,” Latham said. “The Mother Oak is a favorite and iconic part of The Nature Reserve. It is the oldest known oak tree on The Nature Reserve and beautiful any time of year.”
Latham also loves the Shady Canyon trail, “especially during the late winter and early spring.”
Most of Latham’s favorite places are open to the public through The Nature Reserve’s guided events.
“We have hikes and walks every weekend where the public and Ranch residents can explore and learn about the land,” she said.
The hope is that through the events and activities, visitors can find their own favorite spots on The Nature Reserve.
“Within the community of Rancho Mission Viejo, my favorite outdoor spots are exploring the community trails and catching any view of The Nature Reserve,” she said. “I also love visiting the RMV Farms to see what’s currently being grown for food within the community.”
During this time of year, a wide variety of mushrooms and native wildflowers “blanket the grasslands” with “pops of bright colors,” Latham noted.
While The Ranch’s outdoors can be eye-catching during the day, Latham also enjoys surveying the land at night.
“I love being outside at night during an Astronomy Night or Night Hike,” she said. “Our outdoor amphitheater gets you away from the city lights and gives you views of stars and planets you don’t always have an opportunity to see from home.”
Latham’s favorite thing about visiting outdoor spots is watching them change throughout the year.
“I love watching the land change just after the first rains come through,” she said. “To see the first signs of green ‘fuzz’ emerge from the soil, as grasses and wildflowers begin to sprout. Then, to watch as the first blooms appear with yellows, purples, reds and other colors.”
RMV’s natural space adds to the community’s emphasis on well-being, because there is “so much research” that shows being outdoors and connecting with nature is important to physical and mental health, Latham said.
“Whether we experience the outdoors through a hike or sit quietly listening to the birds,” she continued, “the sunlight, fresh air, and the natural environment can lead to lower stress levels and have an overall positive impact on our health.”