When looking for hiking shoes for the whole family – we gravitate towards Merrell. I, personally, have 6 pairs of Merrell shoes in our shoe cubby right now. I wear ONE particular pair of Merrell Moab Ventilators every single day. I also have a pair of sandals for summer and now a new pair of Flourecein Mid Waterproof hiking boots that Merrell asked me to try. The other 3? I save my “old ones” to use the laces or for when we’re working in the school garden. My husband and son each have 2 pairs and my daughter has one. So right at this moment, we have 11 pairs of Merrell’s between the 4 of us (4 of those 11 pairs were provided by Merrell for the purpose of reviewing).
We took our new shoes on our annual hike up in Oak Glen on the Wildlands Conservancy Trail. Who says we don’t get fall in Southern California?
I’m pretty much a minimalist when it comes to gear you MUST have to get outdoors. But shoes are one of those things that are really essential to an enjoyable experience. When feet are warm and protected, you can focus on the beauty that surrounds you with much less complaining.
Every year, when we come to Oak Glen, things have changed. Whether it’s the weather, the gardens, or the crowds – we feel the passing of time. This visit came on a 48 degree morning when light snow was forecasted for the evening hours. I felt thankful to be there; thankful for time outdoors in nature.
We like to start at the entrance to the Montane Botanic Garden and Children’s Outdoor Discovery Center and take the downhill route – with a big uphill at the end.
The new Hummingbird Hill really filled in since our last visit.
My daughter said she likes her new shoes because “they are bouncier than all my others.” Admittedly, her school shoes are very FLAT Converse. So I was happy she had some “real” shoes for hiking. She’s only a tween and her feet are already a full size bigger than mine!
Of course, when I asked my teen son if he was wearing his Merrell’s he assured me “Yes, Mom!” These are the shoes Merrell sent us that he’s been wearing to school almost every day for the past two months. He loves them because they basically match anything he wears.
So when I asked him to step up so I could get a shot of his shoes near the apple orchard. Those black ones were what I expected to see.
Umm, wrong Merrell’s! Only in our family.
Didn’t matter. We were here for the hike after all.
This place is such a comfort to me. The crowds were not there because the U-Pick apple season was over. We only passed two families the whole time we hiked. We saw tons of woodpeckers and little oak woodland birds. The beauty astounds me every time and I’m “oohing” and “ahhing” all over the place. This is the place where I give my thanks in nature every year.
We saw posted signs that there had been bear and mountain lion sightings on this trail in October, but we didn’t see anything bigger than a squirrel. A favorite part of the hike since we started coming here when the kids were small is filling up the water bucket to water the trees.
And then comes the boardwalk that goes by the berry bushes and the stream.
My husband says he likes his shoes because they work for hiking, but also for casual Fridays at work.
We saw snowberries and I even remembered their name this year!
We even found a new bend in the stream because we came a little bit later than normal. I’m always waiting for the weather to cool down and it took longer this year.
And then we climb the hill and end up in Oak Knolls Park which was pretty much deserted on this cold – for Southern California – morning.
My confession is that I got my new Flourecein Mid Waterproof shoes from Merrell and even though I tried them out 4 different times, they didn’t fit me and my bunion as well as my good old ones. In the future, I’ll know to order a half size or a full size bigger in this style, plus wear some thick wool socks to cushion my poor bunion. I really wanted to have a dedicated trail shoe.
But in the end – I figured out that I just love, love, love my Moab Ventilators. I guess even other Merrell’s don’t stack up in comparison? So my trusty, but worn, shoes took the hike with me yet again.
Guess it’s time to get a new pair? (And maybe let go of some of the old ones?)
Looking for family hikes?
- Find nature hikes in Orange County, CA on Michele’s FunOrangeCountyParks.com
- Debi has a list of Toddler-Friendly Hikes in Los Angeles on her GoExploreNature.com
Disclosure: We are everyday urban hikers and outdoor lovers, not peak summiters or even weekend warriors. Merrell provided 4 pairs of shoes for my family to test on the trail. All opinions are my own. Read our full disclosure policy.
In case you’re wondering:
- Mom shoes (Women) = Flourecein Mid Waterproof in Brown Sugar
- Dad shoes (Men) = Epiction in Boulder
- Son shoes (Men) = All Out Terra Trail in Black/Orange
- Daughter shoes (Women) = All Out Blaze Aero Sport in Parachute Purple