The top of the Orchard Hills upper loop offers one of the most spectacular views available in the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. Soon visitors to this part of the City of Irvine Open Space Preserve will once again be able to enjoy the view – and the challenging climb to get there. The trails have been closed due to nearby construction, but are open for guided hikes beginning this summer.
Construction of a new trailhead facility is scheduled to be in early fall, but the over 3-mile trail system will open with a temporary staging area for interpretive and fitness programs guided on behalf of the City by Irvine Ranch Conservancy staff and volunteer naturalists.
The Lower Loop is .85 miles long, somewhat flat, and a great place for families to hike together. The abundance of trees in the area makes it a great place to watch for active bird life. The Upper Loop is 1.34 miles long and includes some steep slopes and serious elevation gain. The two are connected by a .47-mile connector trail. A hiker who completes both loops, and the connector twice, will travel over 3 miles. Some scheduled activities continue past the upper loop into OC Parks Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve, resulting in an even more challenging hike.
Kiosks and signage at the trailhead will add an interactive and interpretive feature that ties people to the agricultural history of the adjacent avocado orchard. “The trailhead facility will serve as a gateway to the northern portion of the Irvine Open Space Preserve and will be a great place to experience the convergence of agriculture and nature,” said John Graves, Irvine Ranch Conservancy Director of Planning and Field Operations.
You can check out Orchard Hills for yourself during several upcoming programs. Visit www.LetsGoOutside.org/activities and select Orchard Hills in the Areas box to view all upcoming activities to register for in Orchard Hills.