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Ramble through an artificial yet salubrious native-landscape-in-the-making at Orange County's Talbert Nature Preserve.

All along Orange County's north coastal region (Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach), formerly environmentally abused wetlands and floodplains are in the process of being restored to some semblance of an original condition. Talbert Nature Preserve, which lies alongside the channelized Santa Ana River a couple of miles inland from the ocean, is one such place. It's a work in progress, with a north part already revegetated with native plants and laced with wide, smooth trails for hikers, horses, and bikers, and a south part currently "under construction."

The planting of native vegetation in the preserve is being guided both by protection of the remaining native vegetation on site and by efforts to recreate plant communities similar to those that existed in this region before nearly every available acre was put to use for agriculture, housing, and industry. Plant "zones" in the preserve are identified by means of trailside interpretive plaques. The zones include coastal strand, native grassland, alluvial woodland, and wetland vegetation. Thus the preserve serves as a native botanical garden, a refuge for wildlife, an educational resource, and a recreational resource for Orange Countians and visitors.

The main access to the north preserve is by way of Fairview Park in the city of Costa Mesa. Drive into the park's main entrance, on the west side of Placentia Avenue, one mile north of Victoria Street, and find a free parking space. From the nearby restrooms, walk a short distance west, and turn right on the paved bike path. Follow the path north and then west down a hill until you reach the Talbert Nature Preserve's entrance on the left, which is marked by a dome-shaped restroom building and an information kiosk.

A wide, flat, decomposed-granite path suitable for hikers, cyclists, and horses runs toward the south from the entrance for a short mile, beneath the brow of a steep bluff. It then connects with a segment of paved bike path leading to Victoria Street. Short of that juncture, there are opportunities to branch west and loop back to the entrance using unimproved trails. Those alternate trails may turn muddy after significant rainfall.

Talbert Nature Preserve is an extraordinarily quiet place, effectively screened from traffic noise by the bluff rising on the east and levees on west which effectively deaden the din from the surrounding cityscape. During this late part of the year, you can often spot 10,000-foot Mount San Antonio looming in the north, its crest mantled with snow with the arrival of the first major storm of the season.

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All along Orange County's north coastal region (Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach), formerly environmentally abused wetlands and floodplains are in the process of being restored to some semblance of an original condition. Talbert Nature Preserve, which lies alongside the channelized Santa Ana River a couple of miles inland from the ocean, is one such place. It's a work in progress, with a north part already revegetated with native plants and laced with wide, smooth trails for hikers, horses, and bikers, and a south part currently "under construction."

The planting of native vegetation in the preserve is being guided both by protection of the remaining native vegetation on site and by efforts to recreate plant communities similar to those that existed in this region before nearly every available acre was put to use for agriculture, housing, and industry. Plant "zones" in the preserve are identified by means of trailside interpretive plaques. The zones include coastal strand, native grassland, alluvial woodland, and wetland vegetation. Thus the preserve serves as a native botanical garden, a refuge for wildlife, an educational resource, and a recreational resource for Orange Countians and visitors.

The main access to the north preserve is by way of Fairview Park in the city of Costa Mesa. Drive into the park's main entrance, on the west side of Placentia Avenue, one mile north of Victoria Street, and find a free parking space. From the nearby restrooms, walk a short distance west, and turn right on the paved bike path. Follow the path north and then west down a hill until you reach the Talbert Nature Preserve's entrance on the left, which is marked by a dome-shaped restroom building and an information kiosk.

A wide, flat, decomposed-granite path suitable for hikers, cyclists, and horses runs toward the south from the entrance for a short mile, beneath the brow of a steep bluff. It then connects with a segment of paved bike path leading to Victoria Street. Short of that juncture, there are opportunities to branch west and loop back to the entrance using unimproved trails. Those alternate trails may turn muddy after significant rainfall.

Talbert Nature Preserve is an extraordinarily quiet place, effectively screened from traffic noise by the bluff rising on the east and levees on west which effectively deaden the din from the surrounding cityscape. During this late part of the year, you can often spot 10,000-foot Mount San Antonio looming in the north, its crest mantled with snow with the arrival of the first major storm of the season.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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