In the heart of Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve, an oasis of lush vegetation stands evergreen, in contrast to the surrounding arid landscape. Birds flit from leaf to leaf against a vine-covered rock face that seeps water, creating a pool below. This is Dripping Springs, and it is a haven for wildlife – one of the few fresh water sources available in the northern part of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks.
Until this year, a double-track trail created from a former ranch road passed within a quarter-mile of this sensitive habitat. Now OC Parks and Irvine Ranch Conservancy are working to convert the former road to a single-track trail. A single-track trail would improve the health of the habitat for wildlife by decreasing the amount of physical disturbance and providing more cover close to the much-used water source.
Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve is part of the OC Parks system, and part of Orange County’s only National Natural Landmark. Through the summer, other trails in Limestone Canyon are closed due to nesting raptors such as red-tailed hawks. While a trail closure is not ideal for visitors, the short-term inconvenience will have long-term benefits for both wildlife and visitors. Docent-led activities in the area will avoid these trail locations, and during self-guided Wilderness Access Days, special maps will be available to help visitors avoid closed trails.
For upcoming activities in Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve, visit www.LetsGoOutside.org/activities.