This past weekend Ashley and I had the chance to get out and do some hiking in Orange County. We explored and hiked at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary which was totally different than most hiking places in Southern California as it is mostly a riparian or marsh habitat, in the middle of Irvine. The San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary is a great 300 acre nature preserve that is connected with the larger Newport back bay ecosystem. A hike in the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine, is a great hike for the whole family and those with kids. Fore more pictures make sure to check out our Facebook Page.
Directions to Trailhead: A Google map of the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary is below at the end of the post. The San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Irvine. There are several entrances to the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary. To get to the trailhead for the Boardwalk Loop Hike, at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, exit the 405 freeway at Jamboree Road and head toward Newport Beach. Make a left onto Michelson Drive and follow for about a mile until you hit Riparian View which is right before the San Diego Creek. Make a right onto Riparian View and parking is ahead shortly on your right. These directions are to the main entrance of the park. There are several other entrances to the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary from the surrounding area. One of the best things about the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary is that it is free to the public. The San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary is open from dusk until dawn 7 days a week.
Description of Hike: The San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary is a 300 plus acre nature preserve. There are over 11 miles of trails in the park. It is very flat as it is a wetland sanctuary. There are trail maps located at the entrances to the park. If you would like to print out a map before you go, here is a link to one. You can make your hike in the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary as long or a short as you want. There is minimal elevation gain on any trail that you choose to take. Even though the park is close to some of the tall buildings found in the urban core of Irvine, the park still has that wild secluded feel to it. While hiking here, you will be able to see plenty of wildlife while out on the trails. The loop we did transverses the park and incorporated the boardwalk that exists in the middle of the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary. It is a little longer than the standard loops that the trail map describe and it gives you a great overview of the terrain at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary. From the parking area take the trail to the left to the North Loop Trail. Make a left on the North Loop Trail and follow until you see the boardwalk. Follow along the boardwalk and continue on the Treehill Trail and the Fledgling Loop Trail. Make a right on the South Loop Trail and then another right on the Midway Trail. Then another right on the North Loop Trail and return to the parking area via the North Loop Trail.
Further Thoughts: There is an abundance of wildlife in the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary. When hiking here you should expect to see many different types of birds. Some of the birds call the sanctuary home and others are migratory birds that only stay in the wildlife sanctuary for a little while. For a checklist of the birds that use the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary click Here. Bobcats have even been spotted near the boardwalk area as well as other areas in the park. When we went by the boardwalk there was a lot of bobcat scat, which shows that they are still present in the area. It is amazing to know that wildlife exists so close to the urban core of Orange County. Click Here for a picture of the bobcat we saw at the preserve.
We hiked a loop in the park that was a couple of miles long. The maps that they have at the park provide mileage so you can determine how long of a hike you would like to do.
Rating: Elevation Gain: Minimal (Easy), Distance: 2.8 Miles Roundtrip, but you can make it as long or as short as you want to make it (Easy - Moderate).
Time to Complete Hike: 1 - 2 hours.
Time to Complete Hike: 1 - 2 hours.
MORE TRAIL WRITE-UPS ON THE SAN JOAQUIN WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
View San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in a larger map