The Irvine Ranch Conservancy kept this goal in mind when designing the new Turtle Ridge in the City of Irvine’s Open Space Preserve. The trail opened in November 2011, but it began back in 2005 as a plan to connect the Bommer Vista Point neighborhood park to the West Fork Trail in Bommer Canyon.
Construction began in August 2011, with workers cutting through thick shrub vegetation, working with heavy equipment on steep slopes to create a number of switchbacks reinforced with stone and wood to control erosion. The two-mile trail takes visitors through grasslands, oak woodland and coastal sage scrub habitats, and offers views of Loma Ridge, Irvine, the Santa Ana Mountains, Catalina Island, Long Beach and even downtown Los Angeles and the Santa Monica Mountains on clear days.
“Visitors can expect a more intimate experience here than in many other local hiking areas,” says Irvine Ranch Conservancy Interpretive Specialist Brian Hughes. “The trail was constructed with the needs of the land as a priority, which creates a unique experience for the visitors to connect to these habitats.”
Though the trail construction is completed, restoration work around the trail will continue. Decades of invasive species will be removed starting in the next few months, allowing native species of plants to thrive. Maintaining the sensitive plant and wildlife habitats means that on this trail, pets are not allowed. Also, as restoration work continues while the trail is open, staying on posted trails is critical. “Proper trail etiquette helps to sustain that high-level experience for visitors today and in the future,” says Hughes.
The community can not only enjoy the trails, but they can also help restore the surrounding habitat. When the trail was under construction, REI contributed $5,000 toward construction, and volunteers from the community contributed hundreds of hours during trail construction programs. The Conservancy hosts regular trail maintenance and restoration programs in Bommer Canyon, and you can find more information at www.LetsGoOutside.org/activities. The Turtle Ridge Trail is open seven days a week from dawn to dusk for hiking and biking, and can be accessed from the Bommer Canyon trailhead or from Bommer Vista Point in Turtle Ridge in Irvine.
For a map of the City of Irvine’s Open Space Preserve or more information on the Turtle Ridge Trail, other trails or to help in the trail restoration, go to www.LetsGoOutside.org.