Who doesn’t like to share a favorite “secret” spot in nature? Just south of the L.A. County border must surely be one of the best-kept hiking secrets around. . . the 50,000-acre open space preserve at the Irvine Ranch Conservancy.
Come join us for a “Saturday at the Sinks,” the showstopping, distinctive geological formation at the heart of Limestone Canyon. In the “a picture’s worth a thousand words” category, check out the photo above and see if you don’t agree that Limestone’s Sinks look mighty like a miniature Grand Canyon. Not to suggest that the lush Limestone Canyon is any slouch in the looker department, with its streams, natural springs, and oak woodlands, populated by diverse plants, animals and winged creatures. Here are some other photos (http://www.irlandmarks.org/About/Photo-Gallery.aspx) to help you in your decision making.
Part of the reason this beautiful landmark may not be widely known is that, due to its sensitive habitat, it’s only available to visit during a once-a-month designated Wilderness Access Day, and the next one is June 4.
What you need to know:
● Only registered hikers are permitted access into the park. We’ve been able to reserve a limited number of pre-registration spaces, but, depending on the size of our group, we’ll need to arrive a little bit ahead of time to register on site. But the good news is the park doesn’t open until 9 am on Saturday.
● You’ll be asked to provide an emergency contact and number when you register.
● I can’t tell you the length or elevation of the hike we’ll be doing since the Conservancy does not provide maps in advance, only once we arrive on site. But when we met with the staff, they assured us that there are hikes appropriate for all levels available and that there will be plenty of very well-trained volunteers alongthe routes to assist. We’ll probably look for something in the 5-to-7 mile range.
● There’s a ribbon cutting scheduled that morning for the new Shoestring Trail, so we’ll get a chance to check that out as well as Limestone Canyon.
● Since there may be a crowd there, we want a confirmed list of who’s coming so we don’t take off without you. Please register by Friday night, June 3 and call or text Shawn Saturday if you’re not going to make it.
● Try to carpool by posting a note on our site if you’re interested in driving or riding and your location. Email Shawn if you want to carpool (drive or ride) from the North lot of the LA Zoo; we’ll plan to leave about 7:50 am.
The trails will likely be in full sun, so bring a hat, sunscreen, plenty of water, a camera and snacks to share at some breathtakingly-beautiful stopping spot along the way. Note that some of the trails will be shared by horses and bikes. Dogs are not permitted. Rain will cancel; please check this site before leaving if you’re unsure.
Shawn’s mobile: 213/[masked]
DIRECTIONS TO THE AUGUSTINE STAGING AREA
While the park is in Orange County, don’t let that deter you from experiencing this. We’ve crossed county borders before and lived to tell about it. Besides, it’s only about 35 miles from Los Angeles and traffic shouldn’t be bad on a Saturday morning.
From the 5 freeway or Jamboree Road
• From the 5 freeway exit Jamboree Rd. and head north (toward the Tustin Market Place)
• Follow Jamboree Rd. (from 5 freeway) approximately 5 ½ miles to Santiago Canyon Rd.
• Turn Right on Santiago Canyon Rd.
• Follow Santiago Canyon Rd. approximately 4.5 miles
• Turn Right into the Augustine Staging Area directly after going under a white bridge (it is the only bridge over Santiago Canyon Road)
• Look for right hand turn lane
• NOTE: If the gate is closed, the sign says Hicks Haul Road Gate- you are in the right area.
You can download a map from the IRC site that includes the directions above as well as from South Orange County and from the 241 Toll Road. From the IRC homepage (http://www.irlandmarks.org/default.aspx), place your cursor on “Limestone Canyon” and click. A pop-up box will appear and click on “Driving Directions” to download the pdf. OR email Shawn and I’ll send it to you.
The Organizer, Assistant Organizers and event hosts in this group are not professional guides. The function of the organizer is only to organize the trip. Each person who signs up for a trip/meetup/ or outing is responsible for his or her own safety and the safety of his or her guests. By signing up for a hike, or any other event organized by this group, you are acknowledging that you are aware and have made your guests aware of the risks, dangers and hazards associated with any outdoor activity and freely accept and fully assume all such risks, dangers and hazards, and further agree to release and discharge the Organizer, Assistant Organizers and event hosts of this Meetup Group from and against any and all liability arising from your and your guest's participation in the group activities.