Orchard Hills: life at the top

Orchard Hills, the highest point in Irvine, offers views clear to Catalina Island

by TOM BERG

For the best views in Irvine, make your way up to the top of the city — into Orchard Hills.

On a clear day, you’ll see Catalina Island, 50 miles west. At night, you’ll see the entire city twinkling below you.

You’ll pass through the Irvine Ranch’s historic avocado orchards — still one of the top producers in the U.S. — and skirt around Rattlesnake Reservoir, built in 1959 to ensure local water supplies.

You’ll also pass nature trails used by the Irvine Ranch Conservancy for twilight hikes to Loma Ridge.

“It’s a wilderness area that’s literally in our backyards,” says hiking docent Joan Steiner.

Top of the city

The Village of Orchard Hills was designed around working avocado orchards that sweep down the Lomas de Santiago Hills.

These hills are home to spotted hawks, owls and mule deer. And they form an intimate connection to Irvine’s ranching history.

“They’re part of Irvine’s legacy,” says Pete Changala, Irvine Company’s vice president of agricultural operations, who cares for the orchard’s 100,000 trees.


Model Village

Orchard Hills has everything that makes an Irvine village unique, with neighborhood schools, parks and shopping that create a walkable hometown feel.

1. Homes: The range of options include homes at Irvine’s highest elevation.


2. Shopping: Hundreds of mature Olive trees create a Mediterranean environment in the retail center.


3. Parks: A network of walking paths connect to nine of the city’s newest parks.


4. Open space: More than 900 acres of avocado orchards connect to Irvine’s vast Northern Open Space Preserve.


5. Schools: Students can walk to some of the state’s best elementary, middle, and high schools.