Thursday, February 2, 2023


 scoff-law: A person who flouts the law, especially law that is difficult to enforce.

I've been hiking the old Coyote Hills oil property on and off for at least 10 years now. It's private propety and fenced, but (at least until recently) there have been multiple openings in the fence for years that people use on a regular basis. I'm one of those "people". No one seems to care that people are hiking and biking on the property, no one repairs the openings, and no one patrols the property (again, at least until recently). There's even confusion on who owns the property: The oil company has been trying to carve it up and build hundreds of homes on the property, in a city that is already choked with traffic and high density housing. A local organization ("Friends of Coyote Hills") is working with the city to save the property from being developed, and the city is trying to save enough money to buy the property. At this point in time, I'm not sure who owns it or what the status is. It's the only area in my neck of the woods where I can hike and feel like I'm re-connecting with nature. There are hawks, quail, coyotes, and rabbits, to name a few of the critters one might see, in an area that feels "wild". It reminds me of "old" California, before things got so crowded and congested. It's not unusual for me to see a few other hikers, but for the most part, I have solitude.

Fast forward to about 3-4 months ago, when suddenly all the openings in the fence had been repaired. Oh noooo! For the last few months, it's been a game of cat and mouse. Someone cuts an opening in the chain link fence (at least I'm not guilty of that!), people use it for a while, then it gets repaired and closed up. Then I'll find a new opening somewhere else, only to find it's been repaired and closed a week later.

So I'll ask you: Does that make me a scofflaw? I'm thinking it probably does. I hike an area I'm not supposed to hike. There are many ways to rationalize it: No one cares if I hike here (at least they used to not care), I pick up trash and leave it cleaner than I found it, others hike here (I know, a childish excuse), there's confusion about ownership and status, etc., etc. It doesn't change the fact that it's private property.

On my last hike here (about a week ago), I found a nice big gaping hole in the fence and just couldn't resist. Yup, I'm definitely a scofflaw. I found myself over on the east side of the property (my usual hikes are on the west side) and exploring new territory, which is always fun.
After stepping through the hole in the fence, this was my view. I decided to follow this little seasonal stream (more of a drainage channel) up the hill. It had rained overnight, so everything was beautiful, wet and fresh!
Hazy view looking down on (I think) Brookhurst St., as it heads south. Follow it for 16.5 miles and you will end up at Huntington State Beach. It's hard to see, but you might be able to make out the shimmer on the horizon which is the Pacific Ocean.

Wonderful cell reception in this area!
Toyon berries after the rain.

Rock with old shell fragments (I think?). Cool find!
Geologists call this area the San Pedro formation and it was formed over a million years ago. The soil here is very sandy, and at times looks like beach sand. In fact, this whole area used to be beachfront property. Downtown Fullerton was underwater, and the ocean came right up to the Fullerton Hills. Who knows, with global warming, this might be beachfront property again some day!
As I was enjoying my solitude and lost in thoughts of owning beachfront property, imagine my surprise when I spotted a security vehicle about 40 yards away!! Oh well, it had to happen sooner or later... caught on private property by Johnny Law! What's a scofflaw to do? I wonder how much my fine will be? I wonder if I will have to serve jail time?? In fact, the security guard was super nice. Almost apologetic. He said "I'm sorry but I need to ask you to head back in the direction you came." He didn't say "leave the property", just "head back in the direction you came." Really? That's it?? No handcuffs?? Sure, I said, and by the way, do you have any idea what the status of this property is? Will they be opening it up to the general public anytime soon? He didn't know. Then we got to talking about what a beautiful property it is, and some of the features, said our goodbyes, and I started heading back in the general direction of the hole in the fence. I figured he would follow me to confirm I had left, and to find where the hole is located. Nope, he didn't and I guess he wasn't interested. Good, I can take my time and take some more pictures!

I found this spot that appears to have been a homeless encampment. It was a little spooky on approach, and I found myself calling out "is anybody here?" I'm guessing no one has lived here for at least a couple months, if not longer. See that big Pepper tree in the upper part of the photo above? There was a second homeless encampment there. Really makes me curious to know who lived here and for how long.

The second homeless camp.

I'm sure going to miss this place 😔
Thanks for stopping by!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.


  1. ...I like your moody skies. A puddle is fun to see.

  2. Ah, Brookhurst St. I know it well. Sad that the area's being patrolled now. Hopefully they don't develop it. So many houses in the area as it is.

  3. I think generally speaking security people are glad to deal with adults instead of problem people. You made his job easy. I'm glad you won't stop exploring. This is some of the only adventure I get to enjoy lol. Wishing you many safe explorations beyond the fence

  4. It would be wonderful if the city bought the land and protected it. California sounds like Florida as much of "old Florida" has disappeared.

  5. Dearest Peter,
    You were very lucky and what a creepy areas where homeless have encamped.
    It is a beautiful area in nature and with good boots or shoes, you can make your hike without issues.

  6. That was quite a view. I like that third photo best, and the mono with the creepy tree branch "arms."

  7. That was pretty risk exploration. The rain drenched landscape with greens look delightful

  8. These photos are beautiful, and I can imagine why you want to hike in this area even it is considered as trespassing. Simply, the views are fascinating! :)

  9. It may be the homeless camps they mostly want to keep out. I'm glad they didn't hassle you.

  10. As always beautiful to see. What a pity that nature that took millions of years to evolve just disappears with a swipe of humanity.

  11. I will admit my husband and I have done this a time or two...or more. Glad you didn't have any trouble out there!

  12. Wonderful sky shots and quite the story of the land ~ do hope it gets resolved for the betterment of nature ~ Xo

    Wishing you good health, laughter and love in your days,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  13. Yes, it makes you a trespasser. Whoever is fencing off the property, though, after so long allowing people easy access have committed the greater offense imo. I'm glad the security guard wasn't aggressive.

  14. Great post and beautiful photos. Glad you didn't get in to any serious problems. All good things come to an end unfortunately.

  15. Beautiful photos! It's sad that all good things must come to an end...but maybe, just maybe, it won't. Hoping they open it to the public soon.

  16. I felt I knew where this post was going not long after I started reading it, and I was feeling the sadness even before the security person spoke to you. Saddened to see the so -called progress we call development has come to this plot of land. I also wonder if (at this point in time) the guard was mainly to chase the homeless away.

  17. I would also probably see it as a challenge to find an opening in the fence somewhere. In any case, it was worth it for you again with that homeless place, a special find.
    Your lichens fit in nicely with my fairy benches.
    Finally: interesting skies full of action.

  18. Yep, that's why I'm generally supportive of any attempt to maintain places of great natural beauty as public spaces.

  19. Oh dear, you got caught! I think we have all been scofflaws at different times, so I am glad you got off free. I loved that glimmer of Pacific Ocean - we live on the other side!

  20. The problem is who leaves rubbish in a private property. A pity.

  21. Beautiful moody skies. Glad the security officer is a nice man.

  22. So beautiful to see
    Your album is really beautiful

  23. I know how you feel. I think I mentioned the Wolfcreek Meteroite crater in Australia.
    Bet the road is bitumen by now and there is loads of people.

    If you clean up they should thank you and to those who leave rubbish: Shame on you!
    We visited Uluru (Ayers Rock) in 1995, but didn´t climb it as it is holy to the Aborigines. (It´s finally forbitten)
    I saw a docu where they showed the rock from above. Full of trash.

    That rock looks interesting indeed!
    Ohhh, a beachfront property would be a dream!
    Oh, what a nice security guy! Amybe a fellow explorer like you?

    Being homeless must be so scary.
    Beautiful sky-pics, so dramatic.

    (I´m logging in this way cause Blogger sucks again - at some I don´t even have that option and those who have no e-mail-address I lose altogether...)

    Thank you for braving up and sharing :-)

  24. Siempre hay personas buenas en el mundo, El vigilante de la sociedad privada te tratĂł con amabilidad y no dio parte a las autoridades. SabĂ­a que si habĂ­as entrado allĂ­ era por el amor que tienes a la Naturaleza y a la fotografĂ­a.
    Has hecho un buen reportaje, con unas bellas imĂĄgenes, que merece la pena ser publicadas.
    Feliz fin de semana.

  25. Hi S P & P, This post is truly fascinating. Love the way you wrote up the whole experience. Hard to imagine this kind of property existing right next to a highly populated area. Really enjoyed your photos and the one with the rock with old shell fragments … very cool indeed! John

  26. Impressive find with old sea shell fragments on the rock. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed that the person or persons who own this beautiful area doesn't turn it into model homes or skyscrapers with office buildings or a shopping mall or just tearing up the land for oil. Nice if it was just left alone. Glad the security person wasn't aggressive. Thank you for sharing.

  27. What an adventure. Beautiful pictures. So sorry you won't be able to explore anymore.

  28. Ok I'm now asking and wondering what a scofflaw is?

  29. It seems like the land is too valuable to leave like it is. Hopefully some money can be found to make it public and open to everybody. Tulsa has its Turkey Mountain and it started out in a similar way and over time more and more money was found to buy out more and more of the private owners.
    We need more open, wild land.

  30. There are worse things to be than a trespasser with a sense of humor!

  31. Sometimes I forget that you don't actually LIVE in Joshua Tree NP ;>). I hope the city is able to buy this property and turn it into a public-usage area! Sigh. Meantime, since that security guy wasn't too interested in follow-up, I wouldn't be surprised if you are able to "scoff" again before anything happens. They might just be interested in keeping out the homeless encampments {-- and It's so sad that those are a fact of life in this day and age. Very much a thing in the part of Oregon where we live. )

  32. The entire landscape gives a mysterious feel, and the angle of your shots is terrific. I wish these places retain their naturality despite whoever owns the property.

  33. Urban sprawl is everywhere, isn't it? We see it here in Colorado. As population growth increases I can see no end to it and sadly it is affecting wildlife and the ecosystem. There are also many homeless encampments here and it is worrisome as they build bon fires that often spread. Our country really needs to do more to combat drug use and address mental health needs to cut down on the homeless problem.