Four bridges serve as viewing platforms to watch abundant wildlife around Buck Gully’s year-round stream.

Buck Gully is Orange County’s hidden oasis

by TOMOYA SHIMURA

Tomoya Shimura

It’s a coastal canyon in Newport Beach, just a few minutes south of Irvine. I recently joined a morning group hike there, and, boy, it was worth the early rise.

“Even people who live around here don’t know this exists,” said Linda Bogue, a docent from the Irvine Ranch Conservancy. “It’s kind of an oasis.”

Running water and chirping birds

We descended into the canyon, past a running creek, and all I could hear were the sounds of water flowing and birds chirping. Steep hills cut us off from the rest of the world.

“I love the shade and the greenery,” said hiker Carin Guertin of Irvine. “Irvine is so central, you can finish work early and take an hour to mindfully walk in nature.”

Buck Gully is part of The Irvine Ranch’s network of 57,500 acres of permanently preserved open space.

“It’s so nice having this open space for people to get away and refresh themselves,” Bogue said.

Irvine Ranch Conservancy docent Linda Bogue points out edible berries on the trail.

She asked us to walk silently for several minutes and use all of our senses.

I could hear the water, birds and scurrying critters and smell the fragrances of flowers. The world felt a lot more three-dimensional than when I’m glued to my smartphone.

Connected to the land

“Even though we are out in the wilderness, people tend to focus on the person next to them and things going on at home,” Bogue explained. “I tell people to use all their senses to feel connected to the land a little better.”

There’s no doubt Buck Gully is a perfect place to do that.

There are plenty of colorful plants and flowers along the trail, like these red monkey flowers.

To learn more, visit letsgooutside.org/explore/buck-gully-reserve.