Completed in 1981, Ralph B. Clark Regional Park was originally known as the Emery Borrow Pit, a sand and gravel pit created in the 50s for the construction of the I-5 and 91 freeways. After the discovery of prehistoric fossils, the land was purchased by the County of Orange and created into a park. I visited this park last weekend with my grandson Tyler, but forgot my camera and was unable to photograph our outing. So, I’ve returned this week, camera and notepad in hand, for an early morning walk on Clark Park’s unpaved 1.5 mile perimeter trail.
The weather is cool and foggy, which I appreciated since trail starts straight up a hill. Climbing, I can smell the scent of buckwheat, sage, and dirt in the morning air. On the right, I notice a chain link fence topped with barbwire, enclosing a trash area below and wondered is this original pit? I got to the top for a view of the street, the baseball diamond, and the adjacent country club. There were three paths to choose from—I chose to go down.
After descending the hill, the noise from the traffic finally subsided and I could hear a few birds twittering. The path is extremely shady, canopied by Monterey pines and other shrubbery and bordered on the right by an old-fashion split-rail wooden fence. The trail reminded me of a country lane and I had an urge to whistle the theme to the Andy Griffith show. Is that you Opie?
It takes quite an active imagination to feel like you’re away from the city when all you can hear is the noise from the traffic, equipment from the park’s work yard, and the crack of a bat from the baseball diamonds. Although the trails are visually appealing, I prefer a park that tricks the imagination for a little while, allowing you escape to the simulated great outdoors.
My favorite part of the park is the Interpretive Center—a free museum dedicated to the areas prehistoric history. My grandson and I enjoyed checking out the fossils and learning how the area has changed from sea to land in the last billion years. The park is a perfect fit for families interested in picnicking and getting active.