Summer’s longer days and clearer skies are quickly approaching, and for many people in Orange County that means more time to spend outdoors. There are a variety of daily guided activities available to the public on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, and many opportunities for visitors to explore local wilderness on their own.
Whether you’re with a guide or on your own, the unique beauty of open space lands comes with unique aspects each visitor should prepare for to enjoy the land safely. It’s important to realize that the distance, terrain and surrounding plants and wildlife out on the Landmarks are very different from those of a neighborhood park. The lush but often smaller bushes of coastal sage scrub habitat – which is dominant throughout the Landmarks – offer little to no shade, making it even more vital for visitors to take certain precautions to protect themselves against the heat.
- Drink water before, during and after your hike or ride – even if you’re not thirsty. When packing water for your activity, the rule of thumb is 1 liter (32 ounces) per hour, per person. It might sound like a lot, but staying hydrated during any outdoor activity in hot weather is an important deterrent against heat exhaustion. Make sure you bring your own water, since it is generally not available along the trails. Some staging areas have horse troughs, but not all, so equestrians should also make sure to bring ample water for their horse.
- Long-sleeved, loose shirts will protect you from the sun during summer hiking, mountain biking, or equestrian programs. A wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen are also recommended. Bring your sunscreen along to re-apply for longer hikes.
- Bring snacks for any outing that is 3 hours or longer. If room allows, it’s always a good idea to have a basic first-aid kit with you, especially if you are exploring on your own.
- All guided programs on the Landmarks are assigned a difficulty level to better help visitors prepare for the activity. Review the event description and difficulty rating to better familiarize yourself with the anticipated mileage and pace before you sign up. Read more about Difficulty Ratings here.
- Keep trail etiquette in mind as you explore the Landmarks. With schools out for summer, multi-use trails could be busier than usual. Remember that bikers yield to hikers, and that both bikers and hikers yield to equestrians.
Being prepared for the challenges of walking or riding in the Landmarks is important to connecting with the land in an enjoyable, safe manner. Review additional trail tips, including recommendations for hiking with younger children, here.
In addition to the safety tips above, timing your hike or ride for early morning or during dusk can make for a more enjoyable outing amid hotter summer temperatures. There are many guided activities on the Landmarks for both early birds and night owls. Click the titles below for more information or to register for a program.
Early Bird Explorations
Beat the summer heat by exploring the Landmarks during guided programs held earlier in the day, before the sun is too high in the sky:
- Morning Fitness Hikes on Paved Hicks Haul Road (Limestone Canyon), Tuesdays, 9:00-11:30 am
- Morning Nature Hike: Quail Hill, Thursday, 6/9, 8:00-11:30 am
- Better Birding Basics: Birds of Coastal Sage Scrub (Bommer Canyon), Friday, 6/10, 8:00-11:00 am
- Intro Cardio Fitness: Weir Canyon Rifle Range Loop, Saturday, 6/11, 7:00-8:30 am
- Animal Tracking in Fremont Canyon, Saturday, 6/11, 8:30-11:30 am
- Morning on the Mesa Loop Family Hike (Black Star Canyon), Saturday, 6/11, 9:00-11:30 am
- Beginning Fitness Hike in Weir Canyon, Sunday, 6/12, 7:00-9:00 am
Nature for Night Owls
Enjoy the sights and sounds of open wilderness as the sun sets during docent-led activities scheduled after 5 pm:
- After Work Fitness Hikes on Paved Hicks Haul Road (Limestone Canyon), Mondays and Wednesdays, 6:00-7:30 pm
- Orchard Hills Evening Hikes, various nights, see website for evening start times
- Meditative Yoga and Meadow Walk (Bommer Canyon), Wednesdays, 6:00-7:30 pm
- Slow-Paced Fitness Hike on Paved Hicks Haul Road (Limestone Canyon), Thursdays, 6:00-8:00 pm
All guided activities are free with required pre-registration. Click any of the titles above for more information, or go to LetsGoOutside.org/activities.