"Antelope Valley--State Parks offer outdoor sceney and activities for visitors"
by Joe Hilbers

The Antelope Valley has other attractions for those that appreciate the outdoors. Probably most popular is the Poppy Preserve State Park located north of Lancaster. There l,745 acres beome an ocean of orange when the poppies, California's official flower, bloom in the Spring of each year.

The Park has seven miles of trails so visitors can wander at will over the colorful hillsides. There is a Visitor Center and picnic area which is open only during the Spring blooming. Generally the poppies bloom between March and May. In some years local communities hold festivals to mark the event.

The Park is located 15 miles west of Highway 14 on Lancaster Road. For information call 661 724-1180 or on the California State Parks website at www.calparks.gov.

Close to the Poppy Preserve is another State Park that is little known. It is the Ripley Desert Woodland Park. It is dedicated to displaying the Antelope Valley as it appeared before the advance of the white settlers.

It is named for Arthur Ripley, a lifetime rancher in the Valley who willed 560 acres to the State so at least one area of the valley would show the Joshua and Juniper woodland that once covered large areas,

In fact depicting how it appeared when the first Spaniard, Father Garces in 1772 and Explorer John Fremont in 1848, saw it.

This Park has a self guided nature trail describing the flora and fauna and as often as not the visitor will have it all to himself. We have made three visits and only once was there another car of visitors. There is also a portable rest room and a picnic table if you wish to enjoy the solitude of the place while enjoying lunch. However bring your own water. It is located at Lancaster Road and Avenue I.

P>Closer if you live west of the San Gabriel Mountains is the Devil's Punchbowl. which is administrated by the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation.

The Punchbowl is a natural geological formation that has been shaped by all the forces of nature--earthquake faults and erosion. Here there is a lot to amuse the visitor. There is a Visitor Center with examples of the birds, animals and reptiles of the area, some living.

There are glass cages for the snakes and wire netting for the birds that include owls and eagles. All the living birds are thee because of earlier encounters that have left them unable to exist in the wild.

On our most recent visit we chatted with Jonathan Numeu, host at the Center who told us of the yearlong series of events including full moon hikes, Meteor shower vies and tours of the nearby San Andreas Fault.

There is the Pinon Pathway, a self guided nature trail as well as several hiking trails, some short, some of considerable distance. The Devil's Punchbowl is in the foothills of the San Gabriel range and offers both a pinon bine woodland as well as the desert chaparral. There is a mile long loop trail that winds down 300 feet to the floor of the Punch Bowl.

Children love this place and it often hosts school field trips. There is also a very nice picnic area with tables, barbecue racks and fresh water under pinon trees for shade.

The Devil's Punch Bowl is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 28000 Devil's Punchbowl Road. For information call 661 944-2743, on the web at www.devil's-punchbowl.com.

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Last Update:1/8/19

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