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Limestone Canyon Open Access Day

February 6, 2012

Saturday was stellar: blue skies, low 70s temps, spring greening the hills, wildflowers beginning to bloom . . . and hundreds of O.C. hikers out enjoying the day at Limestone Canyon/Limestone Ridge on the Old Irvine Ranch (now part of O.C. Parks in partnership with the Irvine Ranch Conservancy).

After parking at the Augustine Staging Area off of Santiago Canyon Road, hikers have several options. I headed out on Limestone Canyon Road . . . which used to be crunchy sharp gravel for the first mile or so, but has recently been graded to a smoother surface. Much kinder to hiking feet and bike tires!

Farther along the road, I encountered this bounty of acorns:

Hikers I met reported lupine in bloom on the ridges; I did not come across any in my canyon travels, but did enjoy the profuse displays of fuchsia-flowered gooseberry (Ribes speciosum) in several places under the oaks.

It was good to see so many people out enjoying the day and getting to know this area . . . lots of families with children were out exploring too, which bodes well for the future of preserving our Orange County wildlands . . . if the next generation knows and cherishes these natural treasures, they will work to preserve them.

And speaking of the next generation: it was also heartening to see a new generation of oaks sprouting and springing from what had been fire-scorched earth only 4 years ago. (The baby oak is in the right foreground . . . )

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