Enjoy the sights, smells, and sounds of Shipley’s 18 acres of restored California native habitat through a self-guided tour of the grounds. Feel free to explore and wander along our 4,000 feet of well-maintained walking trails that meander through a number of unique plant communities surrounding Blackbird Pond. If it is your first visit, please borrow a printed Trail Guide obtained at the entrance of the Interpretive Building.
Visitors have two options to enjoy the continuous trail loop:
Continuing right (counter clockwise on the trail loop)
You will pass the stream, a water feature fed by rainwater captured from the Interpretive Building’s roof, a popular spot for bathing birds and thirsty rabbits. Beyond the stream you will pass under the shade of a stately Coast Live Oak grove. These are surely some of the Center’s oldest and largest trees. The oak woodland then opens up to a large meadow on the left, where a variety of grasses are the backdrop to a brilliant show of orange California Poppies in the spring. On the right, low groundcovers and shrubs in the foreground enjoy the cool shade provided by the majestic stand of Coast Redwoods beyond. Shipley’s tallest trees, the redwoods are some of the southernmost instances of the species on the continent. The trail will then meander up Sage Hill through a collection of fragrant sages and other Coastal Sage Scrub species. From the covered viewing platform, Blackbird Pond, a natural freshwater wetland that is the lifeblood of Shipley’s wildlife, can be seen below. Can you spot a heron or mallard enjoying the pond?
Continuing left (clockwise on the trail loop)
You will stroll through the wonderful demonstration garden (adjacent to the Interpretive Building), a source of inspiration for species to plant in your own waterwise garden at home. Beyond the demonstration garden, Western Sycamores, White Alders, and Catalina Cherry trees line the path toward the western portion of the Center. Enter a replica of a Native American reed hut on the left and step back in time to when the Tongva tribe inhabited Huntington Beach. The path then bends to an opening where a foot bridge spans the dry Freeman Creek bed that once flowed from Blackbird Pond. In the summer, a patch of Buffalo Gourd flanks the path. Native Americans once hollowed these out for use as instruments during rituals. A developing Torrey Pine grove lies ahead with an understory of California Sagebrush and Deer Grass which shelter a healthy population of rabbits, squirrels, and lizards. Around the corner is the beginning of the North Trail which offers one of the most diversely planted areas of the Center. Pollinators such as hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies are a sure thing during the spring months. Rest your feet at a bench and watch them do their thing. Continuing toward the northeast corner, you will notice that this is the “wild” side of the Center. Dominated by a thick cover of mature willows, the trail feels like a tunnel through a true wilderness. At the end of this stretch, a staircase brings you to the elevated trail leading to the viewing platform atop Sage Hill.
Things to keep in mind during your visit:
For your safety and for the benefit of the habitat, please stay on trails at all times and do not disturb the wildlife.
While water containers are okay, no food is permitted in the Center or on the trails.
Due to fluctuations in the water table level, portions of the trail system may be unsafe for walking and will be clearly marked as closed.