Saturday, April 23, 2011

Mason Regional Park

Mason Regional Park is located close to UC-Irvine and is in close proximity to the South Coast Wilderness and the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary. Mason Regional Park is a great, less known, urban hiking location in Orange County. This is a hike that the whole family can do together as most of the trails are paved and offers great opportunities to see local wildlife. Note, ff you are looking for a true wilderness experience, this is probably not the hike for you, due to the close proximity to homes along the trail which is why it is classified as an urban hike. For more pictures make sure to check out our Facebook Page.

Directions to TrailheadWilliam R. Mason Regional Park is located at 18712 University Drive in the City of Irvine. To get to the hike at Mason Regional Park take the 405 Freeway and exit at Culver. Take Culver, going towards UC-Irvine, and make a right onto University Dr. The entrance to Mason Regional Park is on your left at the light. The parks hours are the following: Fall - Winter Hours: 7:00am to 6:00pm. and Spring - Summer Hours: 7:00am to 9:00pm. There are several other access points to the wilderness area of Mason Regional Park in the surrounding neighborhoods (such as Golden Glow Street and Yale Avenue). We have provided the Google map below. Parking costs $5 on weekends and $3 on weekdays. Parking is free in the surrounding neighborhoods. 

Description of Hike: This is an urban hike in the heart of Orange County that goes through 123 acres of land that is designated as a wilderness area within Mason Regional Park. It is a riparian lowland area that ranges in width from 600 to 1,400 feet between a section of homes in Irvine. This is an out an back trail and most of the trail is paved. There is one section where the trail in Mason Regional that is not paved. To access the wilderness area in Irvine, it is necessary to park at Mason Regional Park and cross Culver at the street light. The trail system in the wilderness section of Mason Regional Park is well marked and easy to follow. However, there are no trail maps provided at the trailheads, so it might be a good idea to print out a trail map of the hiking trails at Mason Regional Park that can be found Here. The trail going the entire length of the wilderness section is 3.2 miles roundtrip and there is minimal elevation gain. It is a fun day hike in the heart of Orange County and offers a quick excursion into an urban wilderness area. Additionally, you can find the Mason Regional Park brochure by clicking Here.

Further Thoughts: This was a fun short hike in an area of Irvine that you might not think has as much open space as it does. The area between Culver and Ridgeline Drive encompasses 123 acres and consists primarily of broad, flat lowland, ranging in width from 600 to 1,400 feet. The southern edge of this area of Mason Regional Park is rimmed with substantial north-facing slopes for much of its length. This area was cultivated in the past for crops such as barley, which means you will might find some non-native species of plants here. The wilderness section supports examples of four different natural communities: Non-native grassland, coastal sage scrub, southern willow woodland, and mulefat scrub. The primary emphasis of this area is the restoration and enhancement of the natural plant communities found in Southern California. This wilderness area of Mason Regional Park provides habitat for several rare or endangered bird species, including the California Gnatcatcher and the Least Bell’s Vireo.

Sections along this hiking trail in Orange County have streams that are full of water for most of the year. In these streams you can find small fish in addition to crayfish. The trails in this section of Mason Regional Park are heavily used by residents from the surrounding areas in Irvine and by the students from University High School. You are likely to see others on the trail when you do this hiking in Orange County. Even though this is classified as an urban hike because of the close proximity to homes and a couple of roads, it still has some impressive views and offers a good chance to see local wildlife. As noted above if you are looking for a true wilderness experience, this hike is not for you.

We have also highlighted on the Google map below a couple other areas inside the non-wilderness sections of Mason Regional Park (more like your local neighborhood park in these sections). Inside Mason Regional Park there is a butterfly garden that is worth a visit, especially if you have kids. There is also a lake inside Mason Regional Park with walking paths that go all the way around it. The lake walk at Mason Regional Park in Orange County is a very a scenic walk and is a great option if you are looking to add additional mileage to your hike in Mason Regional Park. Mason Regional Park is well maintained by the folks at OC Parks. Pictures from this section can be found on our Facebook Page. The lake is also home to turtles as well as ducks and geese.

Rating: Elevation Gain: Minimal (Easy), Distance: 3.2 Miles Roundtrip (Easy).

Time to Complete Hike: 1 - 2 hours


View Mason Regional Park in a larger map

2 comments:

  1. I like all the hikes you have listed except this hike. What a waste of time. I wish I had not given up my Saturday for it, Boring!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is so helpful! I can't wait to take my family there. I had no idea this existed so close to me. Thank you for all the details!

    ReplyDelete

Ashley and I encourage and welcome our readers to submit comments about their experiences on the trails we have posted on our blog or about their own hiking experiences in general.