Experience the habitat and wildlife of the Irvine Ranch

A guide to Irvine's great outdoors

Few places on Earth offer the diversity of nature seen on the Irvine Ranch.

Its 57,500 acres of woodlands, wetlands and grasslands, forever preserved by Irvine Company, offer the freedom to hike from the mountains of the Cleveland National Forest to the Pacific Ocean.

It is the only land in California to receive both the California State and United States National Natural Landmark designation.

For Irvine residents, it’s like having a national park in your own backyard.


Woodlands – Limestone Canyon

Many woodlands on the Irvine Ranch are anchored by coast live oak, which grow on canyon floors and north-facing slopes. A single oak can support a dazzling number of plants and animals. Toyon, scrub oak and flowering plants grow under its canopy. Woodpeckers and squirrels live among the branches, and, together with mule deer, rely on the bounty of acorns in the fall.

 

Mule Deer

 


Riparian – Irvine’s San Diego Creek

Irvine’s San Diego Creek includes riparian woodlands of willows, sycamore and alder. In their shade, mule fat, wild grape and elderberry grow, creating a tangled thicket for secretive wildlife, such as the least Bell’s vireo and Pacific chorus frog.

 

Pacific Chorus Frog

 


Wetlands – San Joaquin Marsh

Irvine is home to one of Southern California’s largest coastal freshwater marshes. The San Joaquin Marsh features 200 species of birds and 12 miles of trails, making it a birder’s paradise. Here, herons and egrets stand like statues watching for their next meal, likely a fish or a frog in the marsh.

 

Great Blue Heron

 


Grasslands – Bommer Canyon

Grasslands cover the rolling hills of Quail Hill and Bommer Canyon, bright green after winter rain, orange and yellow when spring wildflowers bloom, and golden brown by summer. Butterflies, songbirds, even the occasional roadrunner are among the animals you see in these grasslands. Made famous in cartoons, the roadrunner is a bird that prefers walking or running over flying.

 

Greater Roadrunner