Thursday, August 25, 2011

Limestone Canyon Wilderness Park (Shoestring/West Loma/Haul Road Loop)

Limestone Canyon Regional Park (Wilderness Park) is a great day hiking area in Orange County. A few months ago, I had the opportunity to attend the grand opening of the Shoestring trail in Limestone Canyon and got the opportunity to hike in Limestone Canyon Wilderness Park. The Shoestring Trail in Limestone Canyon Regional Park gives hikers more trail options to hike on in Limestone Canyon Wilderness Park and specifically allows for a 4.5 mile loop through some of the most pristine wilderness areas in Orange County. For more pictures make sure to check out our Facebook Page.

Directions to Trailhead: To reach the Augustine Trailhead at Limestone Canyon Regional Park, coming from South Orange County, take El Toro Road towards Saddleback Mountain, it will turn into Santiago Canyon road. You are going to follow the road for a while. On your way to the tailhead you will pass cooks corner, Modjeska Road, and Silverado Canyon Road. The Augustine Trailhead is not far after you cross over the bridge by Silverado Canyon Road. The trailhead is just before the bridge that goes over the road near Irvine Lake. For a map, look at the provided Google map below.

Description of Hike: The loop begins on the Shoestring Trail, which is located near the Augustine Trailhead at Limestone Canyon Regional Park. You will stay on the Shoestring Trail while it stays close to Santiago Canyon Road. The Shoestring Trail eventually makes a left and goes into a section of steady uphill until you reach the West Loma Trail. At this point you make a left on the West Loma Trail and stay on this trail for a while. The West Loma Trail connects to the paved Haul Road. You make a left on Haul Road and have a steady downhill back to the Augustine Trailhead. The views along this trail are spectacular in a number of locations. The hike is approximately 4.5 miles in length and the altitude gain is approximately 450 feet. The trails in Limestone Canyon are well maintained by the people at O.C. Parks and the Irvine Ranch Conservancy. For a hiking trail map of the Limestone Canyon Regional Park (Wilderness Park) and the entire 20,000 acre Irvine Ranch Open Space click Here

There is no cost for parking at the trailhead, however you must sign up for one of the docent lead hikes to hike here, or alternatively you can visit during a wilderness access day. Once a month a wilderness access day is offered when you are not required to sign up for one of the docent lead hikes. The docent lead hikes are required because of the sensitive habitat in Limestone Canyon Wilderness Park. For a schedule of the Irvine Ranch Conservancy hikes and to find when the wilderness access days are click Here.

Further Thoughts: The Shoestring/West Loma/Haul Road Loop is a beautiful hike that goes through some great scenery in Orange County. You want to make sure you bring your camera on this hike because not only can you get great scenery pictures, but you also have the opportunity to see local Orange County wildlife. While doing this loop you will notice a number of motion sensor cameras that are used to document the wildlife that moves through this area which is adjacent to the Cleveland National Forest.

The new bridge that was installed on the Shoestring Trail is very picturesque with the oak trees that are near it. Ashley and I want to extend a special thanks to the volunteers that spent many hours working to get the Shoestring Trail ready for use by the general public. Much of this hike does not have shade, so make sure to bring plenty of water and use sunscreen when hiking this loop. The bottom-line is a hike at Limestone Canyon Wilderness Park is a great day hike for any Southern California hiker. Limestone Canyon is designated as a Wilderness Park by both OC Parks and the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, however for some reasons Google still refers to it as a Regional Park, that is why there is oscillation between the terms in this post. 

RatingElevation Gain: 450 ft. (Easy), Distance: 4.5 Miles Roundtrip (Moderate).

Time to Complete Hike: 2 - 3 hours.

MORE TRAIL WRITE-UPS ON LIMESTONE CANYON WILDERNESS PARK

The Sinks (Orange County's Grand Canyon)

Shoestring/West Loma/Haul Road Loop (This Post)


View Limestone Canyon Wilderness Park  Shoestring/West Loma/ Hicks Haul Rd. 4.5 Mile Loop in a larger map

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