Mountain biking in the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks provides a unique experience for riders to explore remote, rugged areas of local wilderness. Whether on a docent-led bike ride in OC Parks’ Limestone Canyon and Weir Canyon Nature Preserves, or a self-guided outing along daily trails in the City of Irvine’s Bommer Canyon and City of Newport Beach’s Buck Gully Reserve, adrenaline-seeking outdoor enthusiasts have many opportunities to connect with the open space from the back of their bikes.
It's important for both first-time visitors to the Landmarks and trail veterans to understand bike safety and multi-use trail etiquette. Knowing what to pack, how to prepare, and when to yield to others is vital to a successful bike ride, and ensures that everyone enjoys their two-wheeled adventure out on the trails.
While preparation is key for exploring local wilderness, the first step to a great ride starts at home. Before heading outdoors, check your bike to make sure the gears are functioning properly and that the tires have adequate air. Don’t forget your helmet, and pack a small backpack that includes a multi-use toolkit for trailside adjustments, spare inner tubes, tire patches, a first aid kit, snacks, water and sunscreen. If you’re looking to attend guided rides throughout the open space, remember to preregister on LetsGoOutside.org/activities by 4 p.m. the day before the event.
Exploring the Landmarks from the back of a bike offers riders the chance to see a lot of the open space in shorter amounts of time, but being prepared for the unique challenges of mountain biking in local wilderness is important. Understanding and practicing multi-use trail etiquette helps everyone safely enjoy the trails. Remember that mountain bikers yield to hikers, and bikers and hikers yield to equestrians. It’s important to stay on trail to protect local wildlife and native habitat. Read more trail tips here, and keep these pointers in mind when mountain biking in regional or wilderness parks:
- Travel at a speed that allows you to watch for trail hazards and pedestrians.
- Allow time for pedestrians to move aside. Newer trail users might be unaware they should step to the right, so call out “on your left” as you approach to give them time to allow you to pass safely. Be prepared to stop and yield if needed.
- If you’re in a group, let the hikers you pass know how many riders are behind you.
- Slow down for blind turns, and always be alert for oncoming traffic.
- Hikers should stay single-file to help avoid collisions and keep a path open for mountain bikers or fast-paced hikers.
Now that you’re ready to ride safely through the Landmarks, it’s time to hit the trails! There are many guided activities offering mountain bikers the chance to explore the land. For solitary riders looking to connect with the outdoors on their own schedules, there are also designated trails open for self-guided access daily from dawn to dusk. Read more below to find a program or location to explore from your bike.
Docent-Led Mountain Bike Rides
Guided mountain bike activities occur throughout the Landmarks and offer riders the opportunity to explore the outdoors in a group while learning about biking and the land from highly trained Irvine Ranch Conservancy staff and volunteers. There are a variety of docent-led rides through oak woodlands and along iconic geological formations that cater to all experience levels:
- Slow-Paced Mountain Bike Ride: Weir Canyon and Santiago Oaks, Sunday, 7/24 (Weir Canyon): Travel underneath a canopy of live coast oaks along challenging technical areas with steep ascents and descents.
- Mountain Biking Intermediate Ride Shoestring Canyon, Loma Ridge, to the Back Side of The Sinks, Saturday, 7/30 (Limestone Canyon): This early morning strenuous and challenging ride travels 13.5 miles with a 2,000+ foot elevation gain, and will reward attendees with sweeping canyon views and vistas of Agua Chinon Canyon and beyond.
- Evening Family Beginner Mountain Bike Ride: Limestone Canyon to The Sinks, Saturday, 8/13 (Limestone Canyon): This slow-paced, family-oriented 9-mile bike ride is ideal for those 12 and older. (Minors must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian, and children should be able to ride/walk 10-miles on gradual uphill and downhill terrain.)
- Mountain Bike Ride in Bommer Canyon, Saturday, 8/20 (Bommer Canyon): Ride through the picturesque hills of Bommer and Shady Canyons during this program, which includes a combination of ranch roads, technical single-track trails, and steep climbs and descents.
Self-Guided Mountain Bikes Rides
There are many areas on the Landmarks that are open to hikers and mountain bikers daily from dawn to dusk. Explore designated trails from the back of a bike on your schedule, at your pace, at a variety of locations. Click the titles below to learn more:
- City of Irvine’s Bommer Canyon
- City of Newport Beach’s Buck Gully Reserve
- OC Parks’ Peters Canyon Regional Park and Santiago Oaks Regional Park
All guided mountain biking programs on the Landmarks are free and open to the public with required pre-registration. Riders should bring their own mountain bikes; please do not bring road bikes, beach cruisers, BMX bikes, or attachments. Click the program titles listed above to learn more about and register for a guided activity. For all activities on the Landmarks, go to LetsGoOutside.org/activities.