Wildflowers in bloom
By Irvine city News staff
Thanks to the heavy rains that now seem to be over, this season is one of the greenest Irvine has seen in years. The hills and valleys have come alive with a level of lushness many residents have never seen. The growth along some trails is shoulder and even head high. It’s a great time to hike into our wild places to commune with nature at its most verdant. While less rain and hot days will quickly take the greenest tones from the most exposed meadows and hillsides, there should be flowers, wildlife and lush areas well into spring.
Here are a few favorite trails, parks and other places to explore.
The Nature Loop and Meadow trails have stretches where the greenery is so thick there’s little room to move aside for cyclists coming through. Last fall few who frequent the area could have imagined the dry and dusty area so changed. You can do a short hike or bike here, or for the ambitious, trek along the West Fork trail and others and end up 12 or so miles later in Laguna Beach.
Quail Hill Loop
This easily accessible loop trail passes some wetlands that may be home to fairy shrimp, the eggs of which can survive years of drought only to come to life when rain fills their vernal pools.
It’s only 2 miles or so from the trailhead and other gates in Quail Hill to where we often turn around where Canyon Creek in Shady Canyon dead-ends near the gate to Laguna Wilderness. The first part of the trek is steep fire road, and it’s a hard climb. But after it switches to a stretch of single-track trail, you’re in for a ride, hike or run through flowering wild mustard that’s more than head high.
Shady Canyon Trail
If Irvine has a social trail a la L.A.’s Runyon Canyon, this is it. The stream under the wooden bridge was still trickling the last time we were on it, and one may see a deer or two on the Strawberry Farm side of the trail.
For a downhill blast of a run or hike, have someone drop you at Bommer Vista Point at the top of Summit Park Dr., then take this mean green trail down to the meadows (one of the first times that word really fits) of Bommer Canyon.