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Los Flores Ranch Park celebrates its 15th anniversary on Saturday with numerous activities | Lifestyles

Los Flores Ranch Park celebrates its 15th anniversary on Saturday with numerous activities | Lifestyles

For 15 years, residents and visitors to the Santa Maria Valley have been able to explore the region’s beauty on foot, by bike or even on horseback at Los Flores Ranch Park.

The 15th anniversary, a milestone for the 1,774-acre Recreation and Parks Commission, which opened in July 2009, was marked Tuesday with a public celebration and statement of support for the park’s achievements and contributions to the community.

Located eight miles south of Santa Maria, Los Flores Ranch Park offers more than 20 miles of multi-use trails and a wide variety of educational outdoor activities for visitors of all ages.

On Saturday, residents are invited to the park from 10 a.m. to take part in numerous outdoor activities to mark the anniversary.

The free celebration includes guided hikes and horseback rides, the introduction of a new geocaching element at the ranch, archery demonstrations, educational booths, face painting, sun viewing and much more.

The event will also feature community groups including the Santa Maria Natural History Museum, MOVE Santa Barbara, Central Coast Snakes, as well as the Santa Maria Mounted Patrol…Smoky Bear might stop by, too.

At Tuesday’s Recreation and Parks Commission meeting, Santa Maria Recreation Services Director Dennis Smitherman thanked city staff for their hard work at the park and emphasized the importance of volunteers’ efforts in keeping the park running.

Before the park opened, many people spent hundreds of hours preparing it for the public. Smitherman spoke about the efforts of workers to transform the original access roads into the network of interconnected trails that make up the park.

Much of the work involved in creating and maintaining the park – including on-site and community education programs, docent-led hikes and bike tours, and park restoration and preventative maintenance – is done by volunteers.

Five of them were honored with certificates of recognition at the meeting in the town hall on Tuesday.

Smitherman also highlighted the unique and diverse ecosystems that make up the sprawling park, which includes rolling areas with large oak trees near the visitor center and animal barn, graduating to drier topography closer to the riverbed.

While admission to the park is free for Santa Maria residents and visitors under 17, some events and classes require registration and payment of a base fee. A full fee schedule can be found on the Los Flores Ranch website.

Registration for the ranch’s first adventure camp for campers ages 7 to 13 is open until 5 p.m. Thursday, July 11. The three-day camp, which begins July 16, includes hiking, archery or working with farm animals.

On July 27, Los Flores Ranch will offer mountain bikers the opportunity to explore the park on one of two guided twilight rides beginning at 7 p.m. Registration for the twilight rides and other community events at Los Flores Ranch is available on the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department website.

Event information can also be found on the park’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/losfloresranch.