Monday, August 26, 2019

The Grand Canyon of Orange County

Orange County has a wide diversity of terrain, and while many people may bemoan the development of what seems to be every corner, There is one open space area that has been set apart from development.  Thanks to the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, more than 30,000 acres of open space has been reserved to remain undeveloped in Orange County.  And one area is especially unique.

Known as “The Sinks,”within the Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve of 4000 acres, you can find a natural canyon that resembles Arizona’s Grand Canyon, as perhaps the canyon looked when it was in it’s early development.   

The Sinks require a little hiking to access, but by visiting the Irvine Conservancy’s website, ( you can join a guided tour of the area.   Access to Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve is granted only through the Irvine Ranch Conservancy. The easiest way to hike to the Sinks is to go on a “wilderness access day”, usually the first Saturday of each month from 7 am – 1 pm.  On these days, you have independent access to explore the park as you choose.

According to their site, “It is a moderate 7.6 mile round trip hike.  Once you reach the Sinks, there is a viewing platform that provides a great vantage point to explore the deep canyon carved in the sandstone bedrock.  Make sure to bring your camera!  The scenery is breathtaking!”

Along the way you will discover many plants unique to the area, and perhaps even encounter some wildlife: but be careful.  Some of that fauna is dangerous.  Our hills are home to rattlesnakes and even mountain lions.  That’s why group travel is the best option.

Photo by Jim Tarpo Photography
Close to civilization, but a world apart, visit Limestone Canyon for a taste of the old Orange County. 

To get to Limestone Canyon, Head North on Jamboree Blvd. to E. Santiago Canyon and turn right. Keep an eye on your odometer for .7 mile, and turn into the Limestone Canyon Park.  If you hit Silverado Canyon, you’ve gone too far. 

The Irvine Ranch Conservancy is a non-profit organization that welcomes donations and volunteers.


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