It’s starting to feel like summer all across the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks! Summer vacation is the perfect time of year to get outdoors, soak up the sun and enjoy the natural beauty of Orange County. Gather your family and friends and don’t miss out on these summer destinations!
The Sinks in Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve are a must-see destination for your summer vacation. This picturesque natural geological formation, composed of dramatically exposed and layered sandstone cliffs, is often called a “mini Grand Canyon” and has become a popular destination among the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. Limestone Canyon also stuns visitors with its lush natural habitat, from thick oak woodlands to the rich diversity of plants and animals, all of which can be experienced on a hike or bike ride.
The beautiful landscape of Quail Hill, located in southern Irvine’s extensive trail network, is another breathtaking summer destination you don’t want to miss. The Quail Hill Loop is the only wilderness trail in the Natural Landmarks that allows dogs. Feel free to bring your furry friends, but don’t forget their leash! You can take a self-guided tour through Quail Hill and enjoy the sunshine, or take in the summer morning air during the docent-led Mid-Week Hike at Quail Hill on Wednesday, July 24 from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. This hike is the perfect activity to de-stress and enjoy some quiet time with the scenic views of Irvine’s beautiful Southern Open Space Preserve. Hikers ages 18 and up can enjoy this 12-mile hike at a moderate pace.
Complement your visit to Quail Hill with a free, self-guided audio tour. Visitors can listen to the tour using their own mobile devices to hear interpreters and researchers explain important features along the trail. Listening is easy: just dial (949) 743-5943 and listen to the greeting to choose which area you want to learn about. The audio tour is also available in a podcast format. You can listen on your computer or download the audio files for free to your portable listening device.
Those looking for a peaceful destination this summer will relish the natural beauty of Santiago Oaks Regional Park. With 1,269 acres of land, Santiago Oaks Regional Park is home to a series of interconnected trails winding through shady groves, suitable for equestrians, hikers and mountain bikers. The park is filled with natural charm including mountain vistas, a meandering creek, and a variety of trees and wildlife species. Nature lovers can explore the beautiful landscape and learn about the history of Santiago Oaks during a Guided Nature Hike on Sunday, July 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. In this 2-mile hike, an experienced docent will talk about the surrounding Santa Ana mountain landscape and the fire history of the area. Be sure to wear comfortable clothes, sturdy shoes and bring plenty of water.
For those looking for a cooler destination to explore, Buck Gully Reserve in Newport Beach is the perfect location for an outdoor summer adventure. Despite its urban surroundings, the coastal canyon encompasses a shady trail and offers an expansive view of the nearby hills, Newport Harbor and the Pacific Ocean. The reserve serves as a habitat for many species, and the coastal air and shady trails offer visitors a cool and refreshing experience. Buck Gully is open daily from dawn to dusk.
You can help maintain a healthy habitat in the reserve by joining a stewardship event like the Buck Gully Habitat Restoration on Friday, September 6 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Stewardship events allow you to create a positive impact while enjoying the area’s natural beauty and fresh air.
For a full list of activities and to learn more about the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, visit LetsGoOutside.org. Most activities are free and open to the public with required pre-registration, which closes at 4 p.m. the day prior to each event.