There are plenty of family-friendly programs happening on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. To help choose the best one for your group, the LetsGoOutside.org site lists a “Difficulty Rating” with each activity.
The difficulty rating is based on factors including the activity’s distance, elevation gain, and trail surface to help visitors determine which program is right for them. Activities assigned a Level 1 or 2 Difficulty Rating are often slower paced and a great option to consider when looking to connect with the land while bonding with your family. All programs listed below are a Level 2 Difficulty Rating, making them an optimal outing for nearly anyone in your group. Each activity has a minimum age limit, so check that out on the website as well.
Early risers can start the week off with an easy stroll through OC Parks’ Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park on Monday, Feb. 22, during Leisure Nature Walk in Baker Canyon. Baker Canyon is known for its unique geological formations, diverse habitats, and sweeping vistas. This slow-paced hike through Baker Meadow is about 3 miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of just 300 feet, and will allow visitors plenty of rest stops to fully enjoy the beauty of the canyon basked in the morning sun.
On Wednesday, Feb. 24, learn more about the Landmarks’ native birds during Birding on the Mesa in Black Star Canyon. Enjoy the sights and sounds of canyon birds while walking along the newly opened Mesa Loop Trail, which offers 360-degree views of nearby canyons and Cleveland National Forest. Highly trained Irvine Ranch Conservancy volunteers will help participants develop their birding skills during this 2.5-mile trek through oak woodland and tall, healthy coastal sagebrush.
Spend Saturday, Feb. 27, hiking through OC Parks’ Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve during The Flora and Fauna of Limestone Canyon. This 4-mile hike takes visitors through a protected wilderness area at a leisurely pace for 4 hours, giving families plenty of chances to view its expansive grasslands, gentle slopes and oak-filled valleys while learning more about the land. Limestone Canyon is a diverse part of the Landmarks, and is a prime location to spot wildlife such as mule deer and red-tailed hawks.
Family Hike: Round Canyon on Saturday, Feb. 27, is an ideal opportunity for families with younger children to enjoy the outdoors together. Parents can bring along kids as young as 6 years old to the 2.5-mile trek along mostly level trails, where they’ll periodically stop to watch for wildlife and learn more about the native plants. This program – which originates in the City of Irvine and travels into Limestone Canyon – kicks off at 4 p.m., giving visitors the rare opportunity to enjoy the sounds and smells of early evening out on the Landmarks.
Many additional programs suitable for families and those seeking to connect with the outdoors are available on the Landmarks; a complete list of upcoming activities can be found here. All programs are free with required registration, which closes at 4 p.m. the day prior to the event. Age requirements can vary by activity, and all minors are required to be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. To learn more about or to register for these activities, click on the titles above or go to LetsGoOutside.org/activities. To learn more about Difficulty Ratings and for help in determining which programs are right for you and your family, click here.