New ways to explore Irvine’s wilderness

Hikers, bikers and picnickers now have new ways to enjoy Irvine’s northern open space crown jewels: over 20,000 acres designated a “Natural Landmark” by state and federal agencies for their biological and geological treasures.

Hikers, bikers and picnickers now have new ways to enjoy Irvine’s northern open space crown jewels: over 20,000 acres designated a “Natural Landmark” by state and federal agencies for their biological and geological treasures.

The new Gypsum Canyon trailhead offers picnic tables, restrooms and free parking at the south end of Gypsum Canyon Road in East Anaheim, near the intersection of the 91 freeway and 241 toll road. The trails pass by sandstone bluffs formed more than 16 million years ago, when camels, rhinos and saber-toothed deer roamed the area.

The new Saddleback Wilderness trailhead, leading to vistas of Irvine Lake and the Pacific Ocean, also has new picnic tables, restrooms and free parking off of Santiago Canyon Road.

“These trails are full of adventure waiting to be discovered,” Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman Donald P. Wagner says.

Both wilderness areas are located on land that Irvine Company donated to Orange County in 2014. Trail construction, parking and amenities are funded with a Company-provided endowment.

Other popular trails within Irvine’s Northern Open Space Preserve include the 3-mile Orchard Hills Loop trail that meanders past a working avocado orchard, the 7-mile Dripping Springs Trail, leading to a grotto, and the 6-mile trail through Fremont Canyon, which is also known as Orange County’s Yosemite.

“These wilderness areas represent the continuation of our long-term collaboration with public agencies, environmental organizations and local residents that resulted in 60% of our Irvine Ranch property being forever preserved for public use and enjoyment,” Irvine Company Vice President Jeff Davis says.

Trails are accessible through guided and self-guided programs with advance registration. To register, see trail maps and learn more, visit ocparks.com/irvine-ranch-open-space. – Tom Berg


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