Outdoor Adventure Guide Get lost at Quail Hill

by jenny rigby

Quail Hill’s Connections: To the south, Quail Hill adjoins Shady Canyon, which connects with Bommer Canyon and Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. To the west, Quail Hill connects with Sand Canyon Wash Trail, which ultimately leads to William Mason Regional Park.

The prominent, rocky crown of Quail Hill rises roughly 200 feet above its grasslands. The outcropping stands as a sentinel of the Irvine Southern Open Space Preserve, a network of protected open space lands significant enough to have earned state and federal designation as a Natural Landmark.

Hikers, cyclists and even leashed dogs are welcome on the 1.8-mile Quail Loop Trail with vista points offering sweeping views of Irvine and the San Gabriel and Santa Ana mountains.

Quail Hill’s grasslands, which include native and nonnative plants, feature a mosaic of annual grasses and forbs. The grasslands have turned green after the winter rain. Wildflowers, including lupines, owl’s clover, milkweed and poppy, add hues of purple and orange in the spring.

– Jenny Rigby, director of The Acorn Group, a design firm dedicated to interpreting natural history

birds to watch

Quail Hill attracts a variety of birds, from raptors seeking prey to the preserve’s namesake – the California quail.

White-Tailed Kite - Nearly all white, a white‑tailed kite hovers over the grasslands like a helicopter. Beating its wings while holding its position, it scans the ground before dropping down, talons first, to snag a meal.
Red-Tailed Hawk - Watch for the rust-red tail and white breast of this large raptor. A red-tailed hawk often perches in a tree or glides high above the grasslands, filling the air with its piercing scream.
California Quail - Listen for the chi‑ca‑go call of the California quail. Quail tend to travel in a group, or covey, and walk rather than fly. Watch for its plump body and distinct black plume on its forehead.

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