* Spring: Time to Get Outdoors

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By Doug Nickles

[Note: While writing this article, the rules and guidelines implemented, due to the Covid-19 virus, changed daily. Please observe all applicable guidelines when outdoors, to keep yourself and others safe. Latest update is that the trails are open again, as of April 22, 2020.]

We often talk about it, wish we had more time to execute it, relish the days we indulge in it and often, make some of our best memories when we succeed in accomplishing it. Think for a moment…back to a day that brings you to a happy place…for many of us, it was when we spent time outdoors.

On March 7, 2020, the Conejo Recreation and Park District held “Unplug,” an event in association with the National Day of Unplugging, to encourage local residents to get outdoors. Not only was the event intended to get folks outdoors, but to do so without their 24/7 smartphone, or other technological devices. While the event was a success (one of the sponsored activities, Goat Yoga, was sold out), please don’t feel you have to wait until next year’s event to get outdoors again!

Do you have a favorite outdoor activity? Is it physically demanding like mountain biking on local trails, creative like a photography class, or relaxing like watching your grandchildren play at a park? The Park District offers a wide array of outdoor opportunities, at over 50 parks and recreation facilities, thousands of programs and a myriad of special events throughout the year. Take a look at the Spring 2020 Program Guide and sign up for your preferred activity. The flashlight egg hunt? The fireside concert? Perhaps, the family campout?  Find something that is of interest to you. There are many offerings!

In conjunction with the City of Thousand Oaks, our community enjoys 15,000+ acres of open space and 140 miles of trails, by way of the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency (COSCA). One of our local supporting organizations, the Conejo Open Space Foundation, is holding their annual Conejo Open Space Challenge to encourage residents to explore 10 different trails between March 1 – May 31, 2020 (note: this event has been temporarily postponed). See their website for more information:

One of my favorite trails is the Lake Eleanor Trail, which just happens to be one of this year’s 2020 Challenge hikes. From Westlake Blvd., head southeast on Triunfo Canyon Rd. 0.6 miles and turn right on Highgate Rd. Continue about a half-mile to the end of Highgate and park at the curb. It is an easy 2.5-mile trek that is very scenic with great views of three lakes, including Lake Eleanor, one of our local, historical jewels.

This eight-acre lake is within the 592–acre Lake Eleanor Open Space, acquired by COSCA, in 1986. It is actually a reservoir, supported by Banning Dam (named for its builder, “Captain” William Banning). Construction began in 1881 and was completed in 1889. It was designated as City of Thousand Oaks Landmark No. 9 and Ventura County Historical Landmark No. 120, in 1988. It is one, of two, concrete arch dams that are considered to be the first built in the state of California. 

If you need more inspiration, consider the words of the author, Richard Louv, when he labeled our lack of linking nature to our lives, as “nature – deficit disorder” (Last Child in the Woods, 2016). If need be, just start slow. Try “forest bathing” – spending time outdoors, under the canopy of trees. What could be easier than that? 

See you on the trails!

Doug Nickles is a CRPD board member

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