OC Parks Opens Red Rock Wilderness

(From left to right) Kevin Carrera, OC Parks Supervising Park Ranger I; Chairman Donald P. Wagner, Orange County Board of Supervisors; Pam Passow, Director of OC Parks; and Nick Martinico, OC Parks Supervising Park Ranger II cut the ribbon to commemorate the opening of Red Rock Wilderness.

(Silverado, Calif.) – Hike atop colorful sandstone and cobble bluffs and enjoy breathtaking views of the Santa Ana Mountains and beyond at Red Rock Wilderness.

Located within OC Parks’ Irvine Ranch Open Space, the approximately 1,500-acre area features more than 8 miles of new trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding along with a scenic overlook that offers 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape.

“Red Rock Wilderness is the perfect spot for your next outdoor adventure,” said Chairman Donald P. Wagner, Orange County Board of Supervisors. “I am thrilled to continue expanding outdoor recreation opportunities in Orange County and introducing even more residents to these beautiful spaces. I look forward to exploring this area and standing atop the red rock formations found here.”

Situated on top of the 20 to 40-million-year-old Sespe formation, Red Rock Wilderness was once home to early rhinos and crocodiles that roamed the area. The red rocks developed their striking color and jagged appearance over time as the sediment oxidized and eroded, along with the gradual uplift of the Santa Ana Mountains. The area offers a protected and preserved natural habitat for a variety of plants and animals, including bobcats, mule deer, grey fox and a variety of bird species. Colorful California poppies, lupine and other wildflowers can be enjoyed here during the spring months while coast live oaks, prickly pear cactus, coastal sage scrub and native grasses are visible year-round.

Red Rock Wilderness features six new multi-use trails for hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders to explore ranging from easy to difficult. A new scenic overlook offers sweeping views of the nearby red rocks, Black Star Canyon Wilderness, the surrounding canyons and beyond. Visitors will have the opportunity to provide voluntary feedback about Red Rock Wilderness through on-site participation surveys and offer naming suggestions for several unnamed trails.

In 2023, OC Parks opened Saddleback Wilderness and Gypsum Canyon Wilderness, adding nearly 10 miles of multi-use trails for public use in the Irvine Ranch Open Space. Red Rock Wilderness is the newest area to open to the public and supports OC Parks’ continued mission to preserve and enhance natural and cultural resources for recreation, education and exploration throughout Orange County. The land is part of 25,000 acres donated from the Irvine Company to the County of Orange for preservation and recreation.

Red Rock Wilderness is accessible through scheduled guided and self-guided programs with advance registration. Select programs at Red Rock Wilderness will also provide access to 3 miles of multi-use trails within Loma Ridge Nature Preserve, also part of OC Parks’ Irvine Ranch Open Space. OC Parks balances environmental stewardship with public access to ensure the area is preserved and enjoyed. Public usage and feedback, along with further monitoring of native habitat and wildlife populations are taken into consideration as future access opportunities and availability are determined. Free public access opportunities will begin Saturday, May 18.

May and June 2024 Activities and Programs at Red Rock Wilderness

Advance registration required for all activities and programs.

Visit OCParks.com/irvine-ranch-open-space for more information and to sign up. Inclement weather may cancel activities and programs.

May 18 – Wilderness Access Day: Red Rock Wilderness  

8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

May 22 – Plants Among Us: Learning About Plants at Red Rock Wilderness  

8 – 10 a.m.

May 23 – The Lure and Lull of Red Rock Wilderness Equestrian Ride   

10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

May 24 – Morning Hike at Red Rock Wilderness   

8 – 10:30 a.m.

May 30 – Nature Hike at Red Rock Wilderness   

9 – 11:30 a.m.

June 7 – Red Rock to Limestone Distance Hike   

6:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. 

June 13 – Thursday Morning Trek in Red Rock Wilderness   

7:30 – 11 a.m.

June 14 – Morning Hike at Red Rock Wilderness   

8 – 10:30 a.m.

June 15 – Wilderness Access Day: Red Rock Wilderness 

8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

June 16 – Moderate-Paced Mountain Bike Ride in Red Rock Wilderness and Loma Ridge  

8 – 11 a.m.

June 28 – Morning Mountain Bike Ride at Red Rock Wilderness   

8 – 10:30 a.m.

OC Parks manages nearly 60,000 acres of parks, historical and coastal facilities and open space for the County of Orange as part of OC Community Resources. For more information, go to ocparks.com.

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