OC Parks opens 7 new trails in Gypsum Canyon

Residents get a first look at a 500-acre nature preserve dedicated to the County of Orange by Irvine Company

Prehistoric rock formations, mountain views and oak-studded meadows await hikers on seven new trails at Gypsum Canyon Wilderness.

Set within 500 acres, the trails pass by sandstone bluffs formed 16 million to 20 million years ago when the earliest camels, rhinoceros and saber-toothed deer roamed the area.

“Gypsum Canyon Wilderness is full of adventure waiting to be discovered,” Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman Donald P. Wagner said at the recent grand opening.

The 6 miles of trails are located on land that Irvine Company donated to the County of Orange in 2014. Construction of the trails and supporting amenities were funded with an endowment the Company provided.

“These incredible trails represent the continuation of our long-term collaboration with public agencies, environmental organizations and local residents that resulted in 60% of our Irvine Ranch property being forever preserved for public use and enjoyment,” says Irvine Company Vice President Jeff Davis.

Scenic lookouts offer sweeping views of the surrounding canyons, the Santa Ana Mountains and beyond. California poppies color the hillsides in the spring, while meadows of oak and sycamore trees can be enjoyed year-round. The protected and preserved native habitats are home to an abundance of wildlife, including mule deer and red-tailed hawks.

Gypsum Canyon Wilderness is part of The Irvine Ranch open space network that has been designated both a state and national “Natural Landmark” in recognition of its rare habitats and geology.

Guided and self-guided hikes

The Gypsum Canyon trailhead features picnic tables, restrooms and free parking at the south end of Gypsum Canyon Road in East Anaheim, near the intersection of the 91 freeway and 241 toll road. The trailhead parking, staging areas and trails were funded by a grant from the Orange County Parks Foundation, which was established with funding from Donald Bren and the Irvine Company.

The trails, which range from easy to moderate, are open to hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders. Visitors will have the opportunity to suggest names for some unnamed trails and provide feedback about their experience through voluntary on-site survey cards.

Gypsum Canyon Wilderness is currently accessible through scheduled guided and self-guided programs with advance registration. To register, see trail maps and learn more, visit OCParks.com/irvine-ranch-open-space.

Distinguished guests cut the ribbon to commemorate the opening of Gypsum Canyon Wilderness. From left to right – Supervising Park Ranger II Nick Martinico, OC Parks; President & Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Connell, Irvine Ranch Conservancy; Director Pam Passow, OC Parks; Chairman Donald P. Wagner, Orange County Board of Supervisors; Vice Chair Bert Ashland, OC Parks Commission; President Mark Denny, OC Parks Foundation; Vice President Dean Kirk, Irvine Company; Senior Vice President Bill Martin, Irvine Company; Supervising Park Ranger I Kevin Carrera, OC Parks.