Discover the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks: A Summer Adventure Awaits!

July 05, 2023

If you're a nature lover seeking outdoor experiences this summer, look no further than the Irvine Ranch Conservancy (IRC). Together with OC Parks, the City of Irvine, and the City of Newport Beach, IRC invites you to explore the 50,000 acres of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. These urban wildlands and wilderness sanctuaries offer a bounty of opportunities right in Orange County's backyard.

Join in on the Wilderness Access Days hosted at various locations within the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. Families, hikers, bikers, and equestrians are all welcome to enjoy the great outdoors. Here are the designated areas:

Black Star Canyon: This OC Parks' Irvine Ranch Open Space provides trails suitable for beginner hikers and families, as well as more challenging experiences for avid hikers. Explore the local plant communities and stunning scenery on short, easy walks or embark on a cardio trek of over seven miles.

Bommer Canyon Preserve: Located in the City of Irvine, this preserve offers a glimpse into the historical "Wild Wild West" with the Irvine Ranch Cattle Camp. Hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails are open for your enjoyment.

Limestone Canyon: Within OC Parks' Irvine Ranch Open Space, Limestone Canyon is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by hikers, mountain bikers, and naturalists. Marvel at the iconic geological formation known as "the Sinks" and encounter a rich diversity of plants and animals.

Saddleback Wilderness: The newest addition to OC Parks' Irvine Ranch Open Space, Saddleback Wilderness offers breathtaking 360-degree views of Orange County and the Pacific Ocean. Choose from scenic multi-use trails ranging from "easy" to "moderate" difficulty.

Seven-Day Access Trails:

For those who prefer exploring open spaces any day of the week, IRC's seven-day access hiking trails are open to the public from dawn to dusk. These trails provide flexibility and the chance to traverse from the heart of Irvine to the coast of Newport Beach. Here are a few notable options:

  • City of Irvine's Quail Hill Preserve: Ideal for a quick nature escape, witnessing an abundance of birds and other wildlife foraging for food and shelter.
  • City of Irvine's Bommer Canyon Preserve: Explore a range of hiking opportunities suitable for all skill levels.
  • OC Parks' Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and Crystal Cove State Park: These seven-day access trails offer a variety of scenic routes, allowing you to journey from the rolling hills of Irvine Ranch Open Space Preserve to the picturesque Pacific coastline.
  • Buck Gully Reserve: Tucked away in a lush coastal canyon of Newport Beach, this trail takes you through tunnels of greenery while a peaceful running creek accompanies you.

If you're eager to engage in organized activities, IRC and its landowner partners offer a range of experiences across the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. Sign up on to participate in "Let's Go Outside" activities led by experienced volunteers. Here are a few examples:

  • Better Birding Basics: Birds of Round Canyon - Join a group of birders on July 13th as they search for birds specific to the area while considering the needs of each habitat.
  • Sunset Fitness Hike on Paved Hicks Haul Road: Both Sides of Loma Ridge - Experience a workout with a stunning sunset and panoramic views of Orange County on August 5th. This six-mile hike crosses over Loma Ridge at an average pace of 3-3.5 miles per hour.
  • Restoration in Big Canyon - Become a land steward on August 10th and help protect around 25,000 new plants from invasive species. Your efforts will ensure the thriving of native plant communities for years to come.

The Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks offer beautiful places and breathtaking views, making them a truly unique destination for exploration this summer and beyond. For more information about the seven-day access trails, free public activities, or registration details for activities or wilderness access days, please visit

Greer's OC
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Since 1993, Greer has been writing about fashion, dining and trends in Orange County, as a popular columnist for the Los Angeles Time Community Newspapers (Daily Pilot, Coastline Pilot and HB Independent) and now as founder of Greer’s OC.

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