Irvine celebrates its renowned open space

Hundreds of Irvine residents gathered at the Quail Hill trailhead on April 13 to celebrate the city’s renowned parks and open spaces, enjoying a pancake breakfast and guided hike along the scenic Quail Hill Loop Trail.

The city-sponsored event showcased not only the beauty of Irvine’s landscape but also the city’s ongoing commitment to enhance and preserve its natural environments. 

“It was more than luck that preserved these spaces and paved the way for our nationally acclaimed park system and extended trail network,” Mayor Farrah Khan told the crowd. “It was and continues to be the result of careful planning, shaped in the very beginning by Irvine’s Master Plan.”

The event also served as a platform to inform the community about forthcoming projects aimed at expanding access to Irvine’s outdoor treasures throughout the city. (See sidebar below.)

Quail Hill resident Andrew Pollaro attended the event with his 3-year-old son, Dominic, whose eyes widened upon seeing horses from the Irvine Police Department’s Mounted Unit.

“We use the neighborhood parks almost every day, but to have a trail in your backyard is pretty special,” said Pollaro, who’s been hiking Quail Hill Loop Trail with Dominic since he was 18 months old. “I could not imagine a better place on Planet Earth.”

Irvine Company Senior Vice President Jeff Davis spoke about collaborating with the city and Irvine Ranch Conservancy to preserve more than one-third of the city as open space and parks. 

“This long-term partnership ensures beautiful landscapes like Quail Hill, Bommer Canyon and over 300 community parks are preserved and accessible to the public, now and forever,” he said. 

As a result, Irvine’s park system now ranks No.1 in California, according to the Trust for Public Land.

“These aren’t just open spaces,” said Mike O’Connell, president and CEO of the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, which manages the city’s open space. “They’re really really important to nature and to the biological diversity of our planet. And they are also important to our health and our sustainability as people.”

With that, a long line of attendees – from families to backpackers to cyclists – took to the trail, including Kelly McClellan, a Turtle Rock resident of 33 years.

“This is a big reason why I love living in Irvine,” he said with a wave.