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Orange County Archery and a Hike in Whiting Ranch

Grip, aim, draw, release: That’s all there is to archery! Not really, but a visit to Orange County Archery in Mission Viejo before or after a nearby hike will put you in a zen-of-archery mood, and maybe recall some summer camp exploits. Your admission fee covers an hour and a half of shooting time, including all equipment. Forgotten the basics? No worries. The staff is very helpful and is more than willing to give you a quick tutorial to get you started. If you want to acquire skills to rival Katniss Everdeen, group lessons are available for the same price as the open shoot.

For an extra dose of summer camp fun, head to Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, just a few minutes from the archery range. The Borrego Canyon to Vista Outlook Trail is a perfect choice. The 4.6-mile (round-trip) out-and-back hike gains 764 feet in elevation as it leaves civilization and winds through riparian and oak woodlands on the outskirts of Cleveland National Forest before reaching the overlook and panoramic views of Orange County. The first 1.3 miles are very pleasant—mostly flat, plenty of shade, and the sounds of a babbling creek fill the air as you hike through the sandstone Red Rock Canyon. Take the left fork toward Mustard Road when the trail ends, and that’s where things start to get more challenging.

It’s all uphill from there, with zero shade, and most of the elevation gain is packed into the final mile before the overlook. Keep your eyes open for snakes as the trail switches back and forth along the coastal sage scrub and chaparral-lined hillside. The last push up the Vista Outlook Trail is short and fast, offering up hints of the amazing views to come as you approach the top. At the overlook, a glance over one side shows the impressive canyon you just hiked through, and the other side has views of Irvine and south Orange County all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Worth the climb? Absolutely.

Orange County Archery is located at 25782 Obrero Dr., Mission Viejo. From the I-5, take Exit 90 onto Alicia Pkwy., and head east toward Lake Mission, Mission Viejo. Turn left onto Via Fabricante, followed by a right onto Obrero Dr. Orange County Archery will be on your right. Open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends; closed on Monday. Reservations recommended.

To get to Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park take Exit 92 from the I-5 onto Bake Pkwy. and head east. Turn left onto Rue de Fortuna, then left onto Viaggio Ln., followed by a right onto Tessera Ave. The parking area is on your immediate left. Open from 7 a.m. to sunset daily.

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