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.


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.

Laguna Beach map


The preserved open space on The Irvine Ranch completes a 17,000‑acre natural buffer around the city of Laguna Beach.

1CLIMB THE 8.2-MILE BOAT CANYON TRAILfor stunning views of the Pacific and downtown Laguna Beach. The popular hike rises a half-mile into San Joaquin Hills, taking you through rugged backcountry, including Emerald Bay Canyon.
2A PERFECT HIKE FOR A YOUNG FAMILY,Mary’s Trail begins just outside Nix Nature Center and includes interpretive signage explaining the local flora and fauna. The trail leads through Little Sycamore Canyon, where you can see the foliage changing colors this time of year, and concludes at Barbara’s Lake – the only natural lake in Orange County. All that in a 1.5-mile round-trip hike.
3LAGUNA BEACH HAS BECOME AN EPICENTER for SoCal’s mountain- biking scene in part due to the miles of bike trails that wind through Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. Riders can begin at Nix Nature Center or Willow Staging Area to tackle trails designed for a variety of users. Experienced riders can test their skills on the sandstone steps of the Tom & Andy Trail, or the twists and turns of the single-track Lizard Trail.
4JUST OFF LAGUNA CANYON ROAD, Nix Nature Center lies at the foot of a 17,000-acre wilderness area and is the perfect place for visitors to begin their excursion with maps and tips for exploring the great outdoors. The center also has exhibits that introduce the region’s wildlife, natural communities and cultural history. Outside, artists often stand at their easels on the Painter’s Pier, which also includes seating to enjoy canyon views.
Newport Beach map


The Irvine Ranch reaches the Pacific in Newport Beach, where the coastline offers unmatched beauty and outdoor activities.

5PLAY ON THE BEACH AT CRYSTAL COVE STATE PARK.With four sandy beaches covering 3.2 miles, you have so many options: from stand-up paddle boarding to snorkeling among the orange garibaldi in the park’s protected kelp forest. You also can stroll a mile-long trail atop the bluffs or tour the Historic District, where more than a dozen movies were filmed, including “A Few Good Men” and “Beaches.”
6WHAT BETTER WAY TO SEEone of California’s largest estuaries than from a kayak? In Upper Newport Bay, you’ll pass 15 million-year-old bluffs as you glide through the heart of a 750-acre ecological reserve. In October and November, you can see up to 30,000 migratory birds that stop here on their way south from their Arctic breeding grounds.
7EXPLORE THE TIDE POOLS at Crystal Cove State Park. Bring the kids at low tide to look for starfish, periwinkle snails and sea urchins among the park’s four tide-pool viewing areas. When people gaze into these natural pools, “they’re amazed at the sea life happening just inches away,” says state park naturalist Winter Bonnin.


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.

Orange county map


Irvine Regional Park provides a portal to tens of thousands of acres of preserved Irvine Ranch canyons.

8 MAKE IT A FAMILY DAY at Irvine Regional Park. From picnics to pony rides to an old-fashioned train tour of the 495-acre park, there’s something for everyone. See trees that date back to the 1400s, a serene lake and peacocks that roam the grounds. Or stop by the OC Zoo, with animals native to the southwestern United States and a petting zoo where the kids can feed goats, sheep, pot-bellied pigs and more.
9LOOK FOR WILDLIFE while biking three canyons in a day, with a 19-mile ride through Fremont, Blind and Weir canyons, led by Irvine Ranch Conservancy. Starting just outside of Irvine Regional Park, you can explore some of the county’s most rugged backcountry, home to deer, hawks and wildlands that have been compared to a national park. For more information, visit
10GO FISHING AT ORANGE COUNTY’S LARGEST LAKE,featuring 2 miles of fishable banks and stocked with trout, bass, catfish and more. Irvine Lake dates back to 1931, when Irvine Company built a dam to ensure a steady water supply for The Irvine Ranch. A few years later, the 750-acre lake was stocked with fish and opened for recreational use. A tackle shop at the lake sells fishing bait, gear and snacks.
Irvine map


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.

11TAKE A STROLL through Quail Hill’s native grasslands to reach sweeping views of the city at Vista Point. The trail’s modest incline appeals to families, joggers and dog owners. No trail map is needed. Just follow the 2-mile loop. Considered the city’s best-known natural landmark, Quail Hill is just moments from Irvine Spectrum Center.
12IN A CITY KNOWN FOR ITS PARKS, Mason Regional stands out for its size and tranquility. You can hang out for hours enjoying the sights, including birds, turtles and model sailboats on the 9-acre lake, where the Orange County Model Sailing Club practices most days. Or stroll along 2 miles of tree-lined paths, picnic under the pavilions or pose for photographs on the lake’s 16-foot-wide footbridge.
13 EXPLORE HISTORIC BOMMER CANYON, which once served as a working cattle ranch and now is a centerpiece of Irvine’s open space network, which encompasses one-third of the city. A short hike leads through native meadows and shady woodlands, on a trail that can lead all the way to the ocean. The state of California has recognized Bommer Canyon as “one of the best examples of California’s natural heritage.”
14EXPLORE 69 ACRES OF PONDS, sit and listen to songbirds or hike through 150 acres of natural woodlands offering shade and solitude at the San Joaquin Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. Scientists have recognized the preserve as California’s only “Wetland of Distinction” for its biological resources and managed public access. The protected wetland provides a seasonal home for 327 species of birds.
15 TAKE A LONG WALK on Jeffrey Open Space Trail. Enjoy 76 acres of meadows, woodlands and botanical gardens in the heart of the city. Art installations trace 500 years of local history, while stacked stone tunnels and footbridges allow you to walk uninterrupted for 3.5 miles. Work is underway to extend the trail 1.5 miles, creating the city’s second trail running from the mountains to the sea.


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.

Tustin map


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.

16CIRCUMNAVIGATE A 50-ACRE LAKE in the peaceful hills of Peters Canyon Regional Park, which straddles Tustin, North Tustin and Orange. The 2.5-mile North Loop Trail is one of the county’s most popular hikes and a favorite among runners and dog owners, as you can bring the pup (on a leash). It provides plenty of scenic overlooks and options to extend your hike on 11 other trails connecting all three cities.
17COOL OFF IN THE SHADE of black willows, sycamores and cottonwoods as you hike along the Creek Nature Trail in Peters Canyon Regional Park. This lush growth, supported by a running creek, provides a habitat for many kinds of birds, including resident and migrating waterfowl. As you stroll along the creek, you may hear birds chirping, frogs croaking and woodpeckers hammering as they busily go about their lives around you.
18GAZE OVER THE CITY of Tustin from East Ridge View Trail. This trail in Peters Canyon Regional Park can look intimidating but is worth the effort. When you reach the peak, you’ll be standing atop the city with a panoramic vista from mountains to the sea. Along the way, you may see Cooper’s hawks, red-tailed hawks, cactus wrens and gnatcatchers. They’re all here, awaiting you and your binoculars.


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.

Anaheim map


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.

19 RIDE HORSES along the old stagecoach trail in Weir Canyon. The path, along the Overlook Trail, traverses the oak woodlands on the outskirts of Anaheim. Following the 1800s’ Butterfield Stage route, you’ll be rewarded with views of the Palos Verdes Peninsula and Cleveland National Forest. Visit activities for more information.
20 FROM ANAHEIM HILLS, bike into Weir Canyon on trails winding past interesting sandstone formations and small caves. In the spring, enjoy seemingly endless fields of poppies. With its deep canyons and steep hillsides, it also contains one of the largest and healthiest oak woodlands in Orange County.
21DISCOVER 80 MILLION YEARS of geological history in the wildlands of Gypsum Canyon. A new trailhead opens in April 2023 with docent-led hikes to oak-studded meadows, seasonal creek beds and steep sandstone bluffs. The trailhead, at the south end of Gypsum Canyon Road, will feature picnic tables, restrooms and parking. Look for grand opening information posted at


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.


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
  • Trails4All
  • 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


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.

Brothers Anthony and Pherum Sok


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.