Summary: Just about the only vivid shades of green that you will find during California's summer are to be found in the few remaining natural estuaries. The Irvine Coast Trail (ultimately linking UC Irvine by way of San Diego Creek) follows the north bank of upper Newport Bay providing intimate glimpses of a salt marsh ecosystem.
Pickleweed and eel grass fill the low flats. Willows, sycamores, and invasive Brazillian Pepper (do not touch!) cover the ground between the dry coastal sage habitat (distinguished by its grasses, buckwheat, and, in some places, cholla cactus) and the salt marsh.
Bring binoculars or spotting scopes for a good look at the rare California least tern, skimmers, Great Blue Herons, white pelicans, snowy egrets, and savannah sparrows. Fall brings the best variety of migratory wading birds and ducks. The scenery may not be the best, but the riot of nature that goes on year round makes up for it.
Trailhead: From Interstates 5 or 405: Take the 55 Freeway south to the 73 Freeway south. Proceed to the first exit before the toll road begins, which is Irvine Avenue. Turn right on Irvine Avenue. Turn left on University Avenue. The parking area entrance is about 200 feet to the right. The interpretative center is designed to blend in with the landscape. Look for the signs to the center and begin your visit by viewing the video presentation (5 stars!) and the exhibits. The trail begins outside the interpretative center, leading off to the left.
The area is heavily criss-crossed by old motorcycle grooves. Stay on the trail and out of the mudflats. Dogs must be leashed. (Lat:33.6553 Lon:-117.8858)
Trail Guides for North Shore Trail, Upper Newport Bay:
Afoot & Afield in Orange County
by Jerry Schad (Wilderness Press)
Best Easy Day Hikes Orange County
by Randy Vogel (Falcon Publishing Company)
Best Seasons: Year-Round
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs, Bikes, Horses,
Ranger Contact: Upper Newport Bay Ecological & Nature Preserve, 949-923-2290
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Joel Sax, who has posted 51 other hikes on this site. To visit this reporters web site, click here.
Trail Reviews Submit your own review
Reviewed by CP on 6/18/2011
We just hiked this for the first time and we really enjoyed it...so did the dogs. The bikers here seemed to be a lot more concerned with people/dogs than on other hikes that we have taken. The only reason that I am not giving this a 5 star is probably because we saw a pretty big snake and that might deter us from hiking it very often.
Reviewed by Tara on 3/30/2011
This was a great walk to do with our dogs because many of the local hiking trails were closed due to rain. There are side trails off of the bike trail that can be taken to get away from the group. Unfortunately, we found several ticks on our dogs on the way home and in the baths we gave them immediately after.
Reviewed by thom on 4/22/2010
just found this hike sort of by accident by googling a car dealership where i was dropping car for service. i asked an employee about what looked like trails on the satellite map and he confirmed my suspicion, that there were indeed trails out behind the dealership. i followed the trail to what i supposed was the end (n. toward Irvine) but then it turns to Sea & Sage Audubon Bird Sanctuary! all on my walk home! all-in-all a very pleasant alternative to walking a black-top bike path or sidewalk on a street.
Reviewed by Rebecca on 10/30/2008
Just hiked this last weekend. It was a quiet, pleasant walk, but nothing wildly exciting. The hike stays along the top of the bluffs, so you're often walking fairly close to the street. Lots of dogs, joggers, etc. Nice view of the bay, though.
Reviewed by Nguyet on 7/7/2006
I was nearly nine months pregnant doing this walk/hike and it was a good workout. Just make sure to bring a hat, suncreen and lots of water as there is little shade. It's also pretty short so you can still plan to meet up for Sunday brunch afterwards.
Reviewed by Sunil on 7/30/2005
We went on this trail on July 23. Highly over rated trail. Go only if this happens to be in your neighborhood and you have no other place to go. Taking a walk in a peaceful neighborhood park may be better.
Notice: Traveling in the backcountry can be hazardous. You are responsible for informing yourself about these hazards and taking necessary precautions. Information on this web site comes from volunteer reporters and may contain errors or omissions. A current guidebook and proper equipment are essential for safe enjoyment of the hikes posted on this site.
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