Irvine has more parks and open space

by Ellen Bell

CALIFORNIA’S NO. 1 PARK SYSTEM might not have been. In the late 1950s, L.A. County’s unbridled growth was headed for The Irvine Ranch. Instead of subdividing the land for piecemeal development, the Master Plan ensured that Irvine would become known for its preserved environment as much as its built environment. Irvine’s park space now totals 25 square miles – a full one-third of the city.

This makes Irvine’s parks and open space the No. 1 system in California, according to The Trust for Public Land. These parks are part of The Irvine Ranch’s broader network of 57,500 acres of permanently preserved open space and wildlands that stretch from the Santa Ana Mountains to the Pacific Ocean – creating the largest urban open space network in the United States.

CONNECTING TRAILS: Jeffrey Open Space Trail and Venta Spur Trail are examples of Irvine’s connecting trails that allow bikers and walkers to wind their way from village to village and other destinations. Another is Hicks Canyon Trail, shown here - one of the widest trails in the city.
COMMUNITY PARKS: Irvine’s 22 community parks, 10-50 acres each, offer major facilities like Heritage Park’s three-pool aquatic center, and Bill Barber Park’s Deanna Manning Stadium, which hosts world-championship softball.
NEIGHBORHOOD PARKS: Irvine’s 40 neighborhood parks, ranging from 3 to 10 acres each, serve neighborhoods within a village. They include amenities like ballfields, sports courts, picnic structures and shaded playgrounds.
VILLAGE PARKS: Irvine is home to more than 200 village parks, up to 3 acres each. Designed for local families, these parks are, on average, just 172 steps from your home, compared to Orange County’s average of 645 steps.
REGIONAL PARK: Stretching 2 miles, Mason Regional Park features groves of shade trees, a 9-acre lake used for model boat sailing, and pavilions and wilderness trails. At 339 acres, Mason is second in size only to the OC Great Park.