There are many things about the City of Irvine Open Space Preserve’s Quail Hill that make it an ideal place for all levels of outdoor enthusiasts to explore. It is an active restoration area, rich in native grassland habitat and home to a variety of wildlife including native birds, snakes, and – a newcomer to the area – Bellsprout, a plant-based Pokémon known for its stem-like body and poisonous defenses.
Pokémon Go is a location-based augmented reality game that allows iOS and Android users to locate, capture, train and battle virtual creatures known as Pokémon. The mobile app's popularity has skyrocketed with children and adults alike since its release in July. In the game, different Pokémon species reside in different locations that are often based on distinguishing geographical features. For example, the greater roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) and gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer) are native animals who call Quail Hill home; now, people playing Pokémon Go along Quail Hill Loop could spot these species’ Pokémon counterparts: Pidgey, a tiny bird with a sharp sense of direction, and Ekans, a purple snake. Whether you’re a skilled Pokémon Trainer, or can’t tell a Diglett from a Doduo, consider gathering your kids, family and friends to enjoy the open space’s expansive beauty in a new way.
It’s important to stay safe and be aware of your surrounding when playing Pokémon Go anywhere, but especially within local wilderness. Wildlife such as toads and snakes live in grasslands throughout Quail Hill, so always stay on-trail to ensure your own safety and help protect native habitat. Also remember to only enter parks when they are open for use. New signs have recently been installed at the Quail Hill Loop trailhead to teach people about the open space preserve’s flora and fauna, so make sure to check them out the next time you visit! Quail Hill Loop is open daily from dawn to dusk for self-guided hiking and mountain biking. For directions and more information on how to visit Quail Hill, click here.
Quail Hill Loop Trail is wide, fairly flat, and just 2 miles long, making it an ideal place for families to explore local wilderness together. Take advantage of Quail Hill’s convenient location and enjoy the fresh air while your kids catch Pokémon from the trail. Prefer to catch ’em all on your own? Despite being located right off the 405 freeway, Quail Hill Loop is removed enough to also provide a quiet escape for those seeking solace in the outdoors. It is also the only nature preserve trail that allows dogs on leashes. Quail Hill can be enjoyed on your own, with friends and family, or during scheduled guided activities led by Irvine Ranch Conservancy staff and volunteers on behalf of the City of Irvine. Click here for a map of the Irvine Open Space Preserve, which notes trails that are open daily such as Quail Hill Loop, and trails that are open for docent-led programs, listed here.
Even if Pokémon Go isn’t your thing, bring along your mobile phone when visiting Quail Hill Loop to experience Irvine’s self-guided audio tour. Visitors can listen to natural resource interpreters and researchers explain important features along the trail. This free audio tour can be enjoyed from the trail or listened to from anywhere with a phone. Learn more about how to dial in to the audio tour here.
After exploring Quail Hill, consider giving back to the land by volunteering your time to ongoing stewardship efforts to improve wildlife habitat. Volunteers are always needed to remove invasive weeds that steal light, water and nutrients from native habitat. The Quail Hill Native Plant Nursery has many upcoming opportunities to plant seeds and native seedlings that support restoration projects throughout the area. To volunteer at the Native Plant Nursery, click here, or go here to learn more about stewardship opportunities at Quail Hill. All guided activities on the Landmarks are free with required pre-registration, and all tools and training are provided at stewardship programs. Click the titles or locations above to learn more, or visit LetsGoOutside.org/activities.