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Landmark Focus: Explore Historic Bommer Canyon

PictureA family hike in Bommer Canyon

​The City of Irvine’s Open Space Preserve is home to a historically rich landmark known as Bommer Canyon. With over 4,000 acres of land, Bommer Canyon extends across tall sycamore groves to rough rock outcrops. Bommer Canyon’s vibrant nature and extensive history attracts walkers, hikers and nature enthusiasts for a spectacular outdoor experience!
Since 2005, Irvine Ranch Conservancy has been managing Bommer Canyon for the City of Irvine by restoring the natural habitat and developing community programs for visitors to enjoy. The land in Bommer Canyon was acquired in the early 1800’s by a man named Don Jose Sepulveda. In 1864, the land was then sold to Flint Bixby & Co. and their silent partner, James Irvine. Soon after, Irvine bought out his partners and took ownership of the land that became known as Rancho San Joaquin, Rancho Los Lomas de Santiago, Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana and eventually Bommer Canyon.

​As ownership changed, the way the land was used changed as well. The acres of land had many functions in the past and was used primarily for sheep ranching. In the late 19th century, Irvine’s son, James Irvine II, inherited the land and brought cattle and agriculture to Bommer Canyon. At one point, Bommer Canyon was considered the headquarters for the southern ranching operation that performed many ranch duties like processing, roundups and grooming. For many years, Bommer Canyon remained a hub for cattle, sharecropping and cultivating other agriculture. Today, visitors can spot various relics of life and history throughout the Canyon.
While it is one of Orange County’s oldest cattle ranches and former farmlands, Bommer Canyon is now home to beautiful trails that welcome walkers, hikers and bikers any time of the year. Whether you are an advanced mountain bike rider, experienced cardio hiker or enjoy a leisurely-paced walk, Bommer Canyon has several trails and activities to suit any outdoor activity preference. Bommer Canyon is also open daily for the public to enjoy self-guided hikes from dawn to dusk on specific trails.
Additionally, Bommer Canyon hosts Wilderness Access Days that give nature lovers the chance to explore the network of outstanding trails and views of the area. This includes the single-tracks in Shady Canyon and Bommer Canyon that are reserved for guided activities only. Explore the entire southern portion of Irvine’s Open Space Preserve during the next Wilderness Access Day on Saturday, February 15 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and see if you can spot historic relics from the past.
Experience the rich nature and historic lands throughout Bommer Canyon during your next outdoor adventure! Visitors can also join the fun through various guided programs and activities provided by the Irvine Ranch Conservancy and the City of Irvine. To learn more about Bommer Canyon and programs offered throughout the area, visit