January represents a fresh start as a new year arrives, and can be a time to re-set and focus on goals to achieve in the New Year. While half the country is greeted with cold temperatures and snow in the winter months, Southern California residents have an opportunity to get outside in the sunshine and start the New Year off on the right foot. Grab a pair of hiking boots and enjoy favorable temperatures and fresh air on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. Hikers and bikers can take advantage of the warm weather and hit the trails daily for self-guided access on several of Orange County’s vast open spaces and preserves.
The City of Irvine’s Bommer Canyon is open to the public daily from 7.am. to sunset. Whether visitors start or end their day with a pleasant stroll or fitness hike through Bommer Canyon, nature lovers of all ages are sure to enjoy the ancient oak and sycamore groves of the canyon. The Bommer Pass Trail in the canyon re-opened after undergoing restoration by Irvine Ranch Conservancy volunteers and now boasts native greenery and wildlife for visitors to enjoy daily.
Buck Gully Reserve
Hidden among the suburb setting of Newport Beach, The City of Newport Beach’s Buck Gully Reserve is open daily from dawn to dusk and offers visitors an oasis of rich plant and animal life. This cool, shady canyon with a stream of running water offers Orange County residents the chance to escape city life and enjoy 300 acres of lush greenery and serenity at their own pace.
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
Visitors can step back in time by visiting OC Parks’ Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and see California as it has existed for thousands of years. One of the last remaining coastal canyons in Southern California, hikers, bikers, and equestrians can enjoy self-guided access on select trails daily from dawn to dusk. Nature enthusiasts can also spot the native Coast Sage Scrub and find riparian communities lined by Willow, Oaks, and Sycamore trees.
The City of Irvine’s Quail Hill trailhead offers a great and central location that connects to southern Irvine’s widespread trail network. The 2.8-acre trailhead is open for self-guided access from dawn to dusk and marks the beginning of the Quail Loop Trail, a pleasant 2-mile natural surface trail hikers and their canine companions can enjoy all year long. While experiencing the panoramic views of Quail Hill, hikers can enhance their visit with a free self-guided cell phone audio tour where resource interpreters and researchers will explain significant features along the trail. For more details about the audio tour visit LetsGoOutside.org/explore/quailhill.
Irvine Regional Park
First established in 1897, OC Parks’ Irvine Regional Park welcomes visitors daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the winter months and offers a wealth of hiking and equestrians trails. Park visitors can enjoy 477 acres of trails, picnic areas, a lagoon with paddleboats and more at the very first regional park in the State of California.
For those looking to learn more about the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks or experience different trails on the land, Irvine Ranch Conservancy offers several programs to give participants a unique understanding and experience of the open spaces.
- Offered monthly, the Mountain Bike Ride in Bommer Canyon activity invites intermediate-to-advanced mountain bikers to join the docent-led ride through the rolling hills of Bommer and Shady Canyons in the Irvine Open Space Preserve.
- The Flora and Fauna of Buck Gully- OASIS Shuttle Service Route program gives visitors the opportunity to explore Buck Gully and learn about the fascinating world of native flora and fauna that call the canyon home.
- Families looking to help keep Irvine Regional Park’s habitat and trails healthy and can join the Irvine Park Trail Restoration Day stewardship program. Offered monthly, this Irvine Ranch Conservancy led program is a great opportunity to get and give back.
- Visitors can take a break from the everyday stresses of life during the Mid Week Hike at Quail Hill. No matter how busy your schedule may be, it’s important to take in a little quiet time and fresh air and relish in Irvine’s beautiful Southern Preserve.
Irvine Ranch Conservancy invites visitors to start their new year with all the great outdoors has to offer. Visitors can visit the above parks daily through self-guided access and discover nature in their own backyard from the mountains to the sea. Most programs on the Landmarks are free with required pre-registration, which closes 4 p.m. the day prior to each activity. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian, and nursery programs are suited for nature lovers age 8 and older. For more information about the parks open daily visit LetsGotOutside.org/hittingthetrails.