Known as one of the world’s biodiversity “hot spots,” the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks are home to many important natural habitats. Across the Landmarks, visitors will find coastal sage scrub, a rare and biologically rich habitat that is native to coastal Southern California.
One of the most iconic locations within the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, Limestone Canyon never ceases to amaze. Located between the rugged Santa Ana Mountains and central Orange County, Limestone Canyon is home to a variety of plants, animals, and unique geological features. Its oak filled valleys and year-round springs made it a popular place for Native Americans and early European settlers to hunt and forage for supplies. Later, it became an important grazing area for ranchers in the region. Today, Limestone Canyon remains one of the most pristine wilderness areas in the county and houses a number of habitat restoration projects to further ensure it biological viability. Over 20 miles of trails crisscross Limestone Canyon, providing hiking, riding, and equestrian opportunities for all levels and interests. You can sign up to participate in a number of activities in Limestone Canyon on LetsGoOutside.org, including Wilderness Access Days. Be sure to check out all this area has to offer on your next adventure, including:
- The Sinks – The Sinks is a geologic formation in the southern portion of Limestone Canyon. It consists of dramatically exposed and layered sandstone cliffs. These cliffs are part of the Sespe formation, which scientists believe was formed between 20 – 40 million years ago. Many scientists believe that the exposed cliffs that make up The Sinks were formed as a result of a single landslide event, likely triggered by seismic activity or a large storm event, that occurred within the last million years. Regardless of how it was created, The Sinks is one of the most beautiful and interesting geological formations in Orange County.
- Dripping Springs – Dripping Springs is a year-round spring in the middle of Limestone Canyon that is expressed through the side of a vertical rock face. Famous for its lush ferns and rare wildflowers, Dripping Springs is an extremely sensitive area and an essential watering hole for wildlife in Limestone Canyon.
- Box Springs – Located off of Loma Ridge road east of The Sinks, Box Springs is a year-round oasis for wildlife in the canyon fed by the same water source as Dripping Springs. The shady oak canopy that surrounds Box Springs is a popular spot for wildlife.
No matter where you go, or when you go, Limestone Canyon always has something interesting to offer. The rich history and lush landscape remind us why it is so important to protect and restore the natural beauty of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks.