The Great Outdoors

The Great Outdoors

Limestone Canyon

Limestone Canyon is located off Santiago Canyon Drive in the Santa Ana Mountains. This area is accessible to the public thanks to the Nature Conservancy and the Irvine Company. Limestone Canyon is a part of the Irvine Ranch Land Reserve, which spans over 50,000 acres of southern California wilderness and limestone geological formations commonly referred to as “The Sinks.” The reserve offers activities such as hiking, mountain biking, and guided horseback tours (reservations required for tours). The docents are knowledgeable about the area and take pride in protecting the remaining open spaces in Orange County. 90% of this area burned in the 2007 Santiago Fire, and plant communities are in recovery.

Crystal Cove

Crystal Cove State Park is located on the northern coastal end of Laguna Beach, and encompasses 3.2 miles of beach and thousands of acres of open space that is a prime location for mountain biking, horseback riding, and hiking. Beneath the surface of the Pacific there is an underwater park for SCUBA and free divers. The shallower waters are ideal for swimmers, surfers, and tidepoolers alike.

Catalina Island

Catalina Island is a premium location for a clean, quiet escape. Cars are not permitted on the island, leaving transportation options to bicycles, golf carts and your own two feet. There are a plethora of outdoor activities to partake in Avalon, as mentioned above. If you are looking to leave the main port, then check out the buffalo safari tour inland from Two Harbors. These roaming beasts were introduced in the 1920’s for their role in Hollywood movies, and today there are close to 250 buffalo grazing the Santa Catalina Island hillsides. There are also camping and hiking opportunities with a reservation and permit.

“The Great Park”

The Great Park will be a social attraction like nowhere else in California, located at the geographic center of Orange County on the former site of the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro. A sweeping 1,300 acres, this park’s award winning master plan steps away from the traditional fantasy worlds of previous amusement parks and entices visitors to step outside, pulling them closer to nature and local heritage. Touted features include 165 acres of sports and park fields, the great canyon, a veteran’s memorial, botanical gardens, a wildlife corridor, and a cultural center. Events include performance art like Cirque du Soleil, and the opening of the Great Park Snow Day, where visitors can ice skate, sled and play in snow that is found nowhere else in Orange County.

Bolsa China Reserve

The Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve is a wetland that is located on the Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach, and is an easy stroll that is great for birders. Bring a pair of binoculars to get a better look at the numerous residential or migratory seabirds and waterfowl. There is no charge to access the estuary, and no horses or mountain bikes are permitted on the trails.

Aliso & Wood Canyons

Aliso and Wood Canyons park consists of 3,900 acres of wildlife sanctuary near Laguna Niguel, with over 30 miles of trails for hiking and biking. The park hosts two perennial creeks, sandstone wind caves, wildflower meadows, and bird watching, and a natural history museum. The best times to visit are fall and spring.

Whiting Ranch

Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is approximately 1,500 acres of oak woodlands, coastal chaparral, grasslands, and riparian corridors. This park was previously used for cattle ranching, and is now open for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. Discover the incredible Red Rock Canyon with its banded sandstone cliffs. This area is still recovering from the 2007 Santiago fire.

Deer Canyon Preserve

Deer Canyon Preserve consists of 103 acres of wilderness tucked away in east hills of Anaheim. This landscape is perfect for short hikes, mountain biking and horseback riders. The nature trails wind through a wilderness of spring wildflowers, ideal for bird watching and lovers of the outdoors.

Carbon Canyon Park

Located in Brea, Carbon Canyon Regional Park encompasses 124 acres, sixty of those which have been developed. The remaining portion holds a ten acre stand of Coastal Redwoods, a unique feature in Southern California. The maintained park also consists of tennis courts, ball fields, picnic sites, and wide turf areas. Nature trails link up to Chino Hills State Park.

Talbert Nature Preserve

The Talbert Nature Preserve is located in Costa Mesa and consists of a northern and southern portion of the park, totaling 180 acres of restored plant communities. From native grasslands to wetlands, this area is an important ecological preserve for native wildlife. This area is open to hikers and dogs on leash.

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