When streets, freeways and city limits flowing together determine location and sense of place, it is easy to forget the topography of the landscape. We relate to where we live by referring to gridded and numbered locations in an organized, efficient system. Moving through urban environments involves landmarks like stoplights, skyscrapers and overpasses.
This massive cityscape can be overwhelming — solitude and silence become nearly impossible to find. However, while examining a map of Los Angeles County, patches of green interspersed within the crisscrossing lines of streets offer sanctuary to those seeking space.
THE PUENTE HILLS PRESERVE
Puente Hills, located north of Biola, hosts 3,860 acres of preserved land open to the public. The Puente Hills Habitat Preservation Authority has managed the land since 1994 as a means to lessen the impact of the Puente Hills Landfill, sourcing funding from fees associated with landfill use.
The Habitat Authority’s jurisdiction stretches between the 605 and 60 Freeways intersection in the west to its eastern boundary at Harbor Blvd. This area encompasses part of Whittier and Hacienda Heights, and includes Arroyo Pescadero trail. The Preserve opens and closes at sunrise and sunset, reserving twilight and dawn hours solely for vital wildlife activity.
Saturday, Feb. 21, I hiked Arroyo Pescadero trail with linguistics professor Lloyd Peckham and his wife, Nancy. The Peckhams and I became friends shortly after I arrived at Biola fall of 2013.
We left Biola at 7 a.m. and drove to the trailhead, about 5.5 miles from campus. Taking La Mirada Blvd. north and merging onto Colima Rd., we arrived at the parking lot by turning on the first left after passing Murphy’s Ranch baseball field.
Entering the trail, we took the right fork directing us into the loop.
As we walked along, Peckham recognized many types of plants — mustard grass, varieties of sage, lupine, and nettles, to name a few along the edge of the trail. With meticulous detail, he described how the shape of leaves and other properties aid in identifying them. Bird species, the environment, and the Lewis and Clark Expedition were also discussed as we observed this swath of natural habitat. On a micro level, slowing down to enjoy the diversity of creation celebrates our infinite Creator.
Tracking the natural processions in creation opens up a realm of revelation about God. On a larger scale, Peckham says the minute perfection found in systems and patterns, such as the rising and setting of the sun, reminds us of God’s faithfulness.
Peckham firmly believes in the spiritual importance of spending time in the outdoors. He grew up exploring the outdoors and experiencing the dual revelation of God seen in both nature and the word. While living in an urban environment, actively seeking time in the outdoors becomes necessary, and important for combating discontentment and maintaining an accurate understanding of the awesomeness of God.
We finished the trail, pausing at a northwest facing outlook near the parking lot. Valuing our experience with God in his creation lends to our role in safeguarding these natural places. Contributing to efforts protecting undeveloped remnants of wilderness is a societal responsibility, but also something that should be of particular importance to Christians. Signs along Arroyo Pescadero trail describing various plant species and highlighting conservation efforts encourage those hiking and biking to keep in mind the importance of maintaining our shrinking amounts of natural habitat, and practicing responsible stewardship of the land.
Puente Hills Preserve opens and closes at sunrise and sunset, so you need to plan hikes or bikes ahead of time so you are not on the trails after the sun goes below the horizon, despite it still being light out. Sunrise and sunset are important times for many wildlife species, not only the nighttime. Preserve trail hours are found on the homepage of our website.
For other trail tips from the Puente Hills Habitat Preseveration Authority, please visit their website.