Last Saturday the Irvine Ranch Conservancy organized open access day in Limestone Canyon. Nearly 500 participants arrived to hike, bike and ride their horses on the beautiful trails within Limestone Canyon. The most popular destination is “the sinks” which is called the Grand Canyon of Orange County. The round trip hike is just over 8 miles and hikers were treated to beautiful green lush meadows, wildflowers blooming, native California Oak shaded trails and spectacular mountain views.
The Irvine Ranch Conservancy is a non-profit, non-advocacy organization, created in 2005 to help care for the 50,000 acres of permanently protected wild lands and parks on the historic Irvine Ranch. The organization’s goal is to enhance the public’s appreciation, understanding and connection to the land, while having the perfect balance of preservation and public participation.
The Irvine Ranch is a unique and special place. The Mediterranean climate zone exists in only five small areas of the world, including costal California and the Irvine Ranch. The special ecosystems that have evolved in these regions are among the most threatened in the world – disappearing at three percent per year, faster than even tropical rainforests. The combination of balmy climate, nearby oceans and abundant natural resources means that Mediterranean climate areas are among the most desirable for human settlement. This has led to conversion of most of these habitat areas to urban or agricultural landscapes.
The Irvine Ranch Conservancy hosts many events on these lands that you can sign up for free online such as hiking, mountain biking, yoga, plant restoration and equestrian day trips. These programs are all lead by volunteers. The owner of SABP Reprographics, Colleen, is a volunteer trail guide and you may see her on the trails or at the check in sites for open access days. Some of the Irvine Ranch’s most notable lands are Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Bommer Canyon, Quail Hill, Crystal Cove State Park, Limestone Canyon Wilderness Area, Peters Canyon, Irvine Regional Park and Weir Canyon Wilderness.
The next Open Access Day is February 21st in Bommer Canyon.