Bommer Canyon is part of more than 4,000 acres located on the southern portion of the Irvine Open Space Preserve, stretching across sycamore groves and rough rock outcrops. The majestic lands have a history steeped in ranching and agriculture, and outdoor enthusiasts can explore the trails during the upcoming Wilderness Access Day on Saturday, June 17. Hikers age 8 and older can also register for Exploring Bommer: Life on the Ranch, a guided interpretive program on the same day. Discover the history of Bommer Canyon and explore the land for a day of fresh air and adventure on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks!
“It’s pretty remarkable that within an area this populated the public can still enjoy an expansive open space,” Hughes said. “In Bommer Canyon there are pieces of equipment that are still visible to visitors, and help tell the story of what was once a great ranching and farming area. For me personally, sharing the history and lore of the land during guided programs is a truly rewarding experience.”
Bommer Canyon was originally acquired by Don Jose Sepulveda through a Mexican land grant in 1837. Then known as Rancho San Juaquin, Sepulveda was the first private owner of Bommer Canyon. The next exchange of ownership was the result of bad weather and bad luck, as drought began to affect the land and Sepulveda started accumulating debt due to gambling. In 1864 he sold the land to Flint Bixby & Co. and their silent partner, James Irvine.
Time passed and with the coming of the 20th century Bommer Canyon remained a hub for cattle and agriculture. In its prime in the early 1920s, 7,000 heads of cattle inhabited the land and half a dozen cowboys were employed to tend to the cattle. Bommer Canyon was considered the headquarters for the southern ranching operation, and was home to various ranch hand duties including processing, roundups, and grooming. With San Diego Creek as the main water supply, Bommer Canyon thrived with cattle and agriculture
“The ranching era is so fascinating to me,” Hughes said. “When Irvine Ranch Conservancy began managing Bommer Canyon, they treated it as a restoration site. Staff and volunteers started clearing out weeds and planting native species. Little pieces of ranching and farming equipment were uncovered and made visible to the public. The transformation was amazing to watch and I feel very fortunate that I get to share Bommer Canyon’s history with the community.”
Enjoy the great outdoors on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks! Remember to wear sunscreen (even in the late afternoon and early evening), and don’t forget to pack water, a snack, and wear layers and appropriate shoes. Most programs are free and open to the public with required registration, but space is limited and early registration is recommended. For more information and to register for a program visit www.LetsGoOutside.org.