In 1897, Irvine Company’s gift of a 160-acre oak grove created California’s first regional park: Irvine Regional. One hundred and twenty-five years later, we’ve preserved 57,500 acres of the historic Irvine Ranch as open space to enhance Orange County’s shared quality of life. The following guide showcases the extraordinary outdoor experiences available for you to explore – like Weir Canyon, above.
OPEN SPACE DEDICATIONS
Irvine Company has transferred 60% of the historic Irvine Ranch to local jurisdictions for public ownership, ensuring these lands in the heart of Orange County are preserved forever.
Explore more than 20 top adventures on The Irvine Ranch
Through long-term master-planning, Irvine Company and our conservation partners spent decades establishing a remarkable legacy of open space on The Irvine Ranch. If you have never explored these lands, make plans to discover why so much time and passion were invested in ensuring the land would be here for you today, tomorrow and forever.
“Open space is freedom,” says Irvine Company Chairman Donald Bren, who has referred to the gifts of land as “an investment in our future.” When you look around today and see families picnicking at Irvine Regional Park and hikers in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, it’s clear that the value of this investment is growing every day, thanks to the hard work of past and present generations.
The preserved open space on The Irvine Ranch completes a 17,000‑acre natural buffer around the city of Laguna Beach.
The Irvine Ranch reaches the Pacific in Newport Beach, where the coastline offers unmatched beauty and outdoor activities.
The day The Irvine Ranch became a National Natural Landmark
The U.S. Department of the Interior named The Irvine Ranch Open Space a National Natural Landmark at a bluff-top ceremony in Crystal Cove with Irvine Company Chairman Donald Bren, left, National Parks Service Director Fran Mainella and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. “The land represents a shining example of our nation’s natural treasures,” Mainella said at the event. In Newport Beach, The Irvine Ranch national treasures include Crystal Cove State Park – with 3.2 miles of beach and 2,400 acres of backcountry wilderness – as well as Upper Newport Bay.
Irvine Regional Park provides a portal to tens of thousands of acres of preserved Irvine Ranch canyons.
The master-planned city of Irvine, in the center of the historic Irvine Ranch, features one of America’s top 10 park systems, according to the Trust for Public Land.
Community helps design Jeffrey Open Space Trail
Irvine Company landscape artists and hundreds of local residents met dozens of times in the 1990s to create an urban marvel: a 5-mile trail in the middle of the city, running through meadows, creek beds, woodlands and botanical gardens. With community input, the Company developed the $30 million park and turned it over to the city of Irvine, where today it is one of local residents’ most beloved retreats.
Long-term master-planning means today you can begin a bike ride at Peters Canyon Regional Park and take the Mountains to Sea Trail all the way to the Pacific.
How Peters Canyon evolved to meet the needs of the community
Peters Canyon Regional Park is steeped in history. During World War II, the Army staged mock battles in the eucalyptus grove near Little Peters Lake. Half a century before that, local sportsmen introduced golf to Orange County on a course they built on its rolling hills. In 1992, Irvine Company donated 340 acres of the historic canyon to create the regional park.
Just outside Anaheim Hills, preserved canyons are home to stands of the endangered Tecate cypress tree and cliffs that showcase millions of years of geological history.
Preserving Irvine Ranch’s northernmost open space
To ensure that large green buffers around the city would be preserved forever, Irvine Company turned away from a plan to build the city‑approved 2,500‑home Mountain Park community and instead dedicated the land as permanent open space. The 2014 open space gift means the entire northern section of The Irvine Ranch will be preserved.
A THANK YOU TO OUR STEWARDSHIP PARTNERS
The U.S. Department of the Interior has honored Irvine Company and the organizations that worked to preserve Irvine Ranch open space with its Partners in Stewardship Award.
“The Irvine Ranch is what cooperative conservation is all about,” former
U.S. Interior Secretary Gale Norton said of the award. “A conservation-minded corporate citizen is working hand-in-hand with a conservation organization and other partners to thoughtfully and purposefully create an environment where both people and wildlife can thrive.”
Irvine Company wishes to thank these conservation partners.
- Audubon California
- California Coastal Commission
- California Coastal Conservancy
- California Department of Fish and Game
- California Department of Transportation
- California Natural Resources Agency
- California State Parks
- California State University, Fullerton
- City of Anaheim
- City of Irvine
- City of Irvine’s Open Space Preserve
- City of Laguna Beach
- City of Newport Beach
- City of Orange
- City of Tustin
- County of Orange
- Crystal Cove Conservancy
- Endangered Habitats League
- Equestrian Coalition of Orange County
- Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks
- Friends of the Newport Coast
- Friends of the Tecate Cypress Hills For Everyone
- Irvine Ranch Conservancy
- Irvine Ranch Water District
- Juaneno Band of Mission Indians
- Laguna Canyon Conservancy
- Laguna Canyon Foundation
- Laguna Greenbelt, Inc.
- Metropolitan Water District
- Municipal Water District of Orange County
- Nature Reserve of Orange County
- OC Parks
- Orange County Business Council
- Orange County Coastkeeper
- Orange County Farm Bureau
- Orange County Fire Authority
- Orange County Flood Control District
- Orange County Transportation Authority
- Orange County Water District
- Planning and Conservation League
- San Joaquin Marsh & Wildlife Sanctuary
- Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board
- Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority
- Santiago County Water District
- Sea and Sage Audubon Society
- Silverado Modjeska Recreation and Park District
- Southern California Edison
- Southern California Gas Co.
- State Water Resources Control Board
- The Nature Conservancy
- Transportation Corridor Agencies
- Trust for Public Land
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- U.S. Department of the Interior
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
- U.S. Soil Conservation Service
- University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension
- University of California Natural Reserve System
AN EPIC JOURNEY
The Mountains to Sea Trail traverses The Irvine Ranch all the way to the Pacific
When Anthony Sok discovered a passion for cycling, he happened to read online about a trail called Mountains to Sea.
“That ought to be a win,” he figured. He was right. The 22-mile route took Sok, a local sound engineer, and his brother, Pherum, through oak woodlands, green parks and neighborhoods of immaculate homes.
As Sok would later learn, the extraordinary trail – or rather a series of trails linked together, with signs pointing the way – was the product of collaborations between Irvine Company, the Irvine Ranch Conservancy and the six cities through which the trail meanders.
Following the San Diego Creek, the Sok brothers pedaled past meadows filled with poppies and lupine before reaching the shore of Upper Newport Bay, one of the few unspoiled estuaries left in Southern California. There, they paused to watch pelicans, egrets and seagulls soar over the water at sunset.
“We were mesmerized the whole time,” Sok recalls.
For all to enjoy
You don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy the Mountains to Sea Trail, as it’s a mostly level, paved route, declining gradually as it moves south.
True to its name, the trail leads from the forested foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains through Weir Canyon Nature Preserve and Irvine and Peters Canyon regional parks, passing through unincorporated parts of Orange County and the cities of Orange, Tustin, Irvine and Newport Beach before arriving at the coast. “You get a little bit of everything,” Sok says. “It’s a changing mix of city and natural scenery.”
Travelers who want to start at the rugged, mountainous beginning of the trail need to sign up in advance for any one of a variety of free, guided hikes to get access to the nature preserve.
Many cyclists say they can complete the entire round trip in about five hours. But those who want a shorter route can park and join the trail at several points to the south, including Peters Canyon Regional Park, Col. Bill Barber Marine Corps Memorial Park and Mike Ward Community Park.
ORANGE COUNTY’S FIRST PARK TURNS 125
On Oct. 1, Irvine Company joined with local leaders and three generations of the Irvine family to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Irvine Regional Park – California’s first regional park.
The anniversary commemorates Irvine Company’s 1897 gift of a 160-acre oak grove at the entrance of Santiago Canyon on our Irvine Ranch property.
It proved to be the first fruit of many subsequent gifts of land that have resulted in 60% of The Irvine Ranch being preserved as open space forever.