Irvine’s Southern Open Space Preserve is a remarkable window into one of the rarest ecosystems on Earth.
Stretching 16 miles from Irvine’s Quail Hill to the Pacific Ocean, it offers a vibrant tapestry of natural habitat, from meadows to woodlands to breezy ridgelines sequined with coastal sage scrub. This stunning 15,000-acre expanse (almost twice the size of Seal Beach) is home to dozens of plants and animals that exist nowhere else in the world.
The preserved coastal hills offer a variety of public trails, including one from Bommer Canyon in Irvine that extends to the sandy beaches of Crystal Cove. Rare birds you might see on the trails include the California gnatcatcher and cactus wren. Rare plants include the Catalina mariposa lily and many-stemmed dudleya.
When you step onto the preserve, you enter the largest urban open space network in America – the only land ever to receive both the California State and United States National Natural Landmark designation. And this landmark is available for discovery and enjoyment by Californians … forever.