School is out and summertime is the perfect season to gather the family and head to the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. Exploring the local lands is a way to disconnect from electronics and reconnect your little ones, tweens, and teens with the great outdoors. The Landmarks are home to many programs that nature lovers as young as eight years old can enjoy, so set aside the screens and devices and head to the open spaces for a family-friendly program on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks.
Outdoor enthusiasts age 8 and older can enjoy the sounds and smells of early evening wildlife and native plant life during the Family Hike at OC Parks’ Black Star Canyon on Saturday, July 22. On this slower-paced hike, families will explore Black Star Canyon along a flat trail with an Irvine Ranch Conservancy volunteer who will share fun and educational facts about the surrounding area and answer questions about the local habitat. Along the 2.5-mile hike, families will cross a creek and watch for red-tailed hawks and mule deer that surround the area.
Animal & Plant Programs
Hikers age 8 and older with a knack for investigating can search for evidence that animals leave behind in nature during Animal Tracking in OC Parks’ Fremont Canyon. Volunteers will lead this free program on Saturday, July 22 to explore the lands where mule deer, bobcat, coyote, and mountain lions call home. Gain the basic tracking techniques and search for evidence such as tracks, fur, bones, and even scat!
Young nature lovers with a green thumb can enjoy giving back to the local land by joining a nursery program on the Landmarks. Irvine Ranch Conservancy’s Augustine Nursery, Quail Hill Nursery, and Native Seed Farm are ideal learning environments and give children 8 and older an opportunity to roll up their sleeves, get their hands dirty, and learn about the local plant life will helping the habitat thrive.
Wilderness Access Days
The Landmarks are home to many docent-led activities, but also welcome families to enjoy Wilderness Access Days for self-guided access. By registering for Wilderness Access Days, families can bike, hike, or travel by jogging stroller through the canyon on the open spaces. On July 15 Wilderness Access Day at the City of Irvine’s Bommer Canyon invites trail enthusiasts to explore the trail network and discover a hidden gem in Orange County’s backyard.
Another self-guided opportunity falls on Saturday, August 5 during Wilderness Access Day at OC Parks’ Limestone Canyon. As with any program on the lands, it’s important for nature lovers of all ages to pack sunscreen, water, and a light snack, and wear comfortable footwear. Click on the programs below for more details and to plan a family adventure on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks!
- Wilderness Access Day at Bommer Canyon on July 15 invites visitors to enjoy self-guided access in the southern portion of Irvine’s Open Space Preserve from 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
- Family Hike: Black Star Canyon on July 22 is an early evening, guided hike from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Black Star Canyon. The slower-paced hike will average 2.5 miles.
- Animal Tracking in Fremont Canyon welcomes families on July 22 from 8:00 – 11:00 a.m. to come search for evidence that animals leave behind in nature including Mule deer, bobcat, coyote, and even mountain lion that call this hidden canyon home.
- Family Hike: Round Canyon on July 29 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. is a 2.5 hike along a fairly flat trail where hikers can watch for red-tailed hawks and mule deer.
- Wilderness Access Day at Limestone Canyon on August 5 from 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. encourages hikers to start your weekend off by exploring the endless opportunities found throughout magnificent Limestone Canyon.
- Native Plant Nursery at Quail Hill invites volunteers to work at the nursery to help enhance the native habitat and directly benefit the local wildlife on August 7 from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Most activities are free with required pre-registration, which closes at 4 p.m. the day prior to each event. Some programs are suitable for children 8 and over, and children must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. Jogging strollers welcome on most trails. For more details on programs on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks visit www.LetsGoOutside.org/activities.