The prominent, rocky crown of Quail Hill rises roughly 200 feet above its grasslands. The outcropping stands as a sentinel of the Irvine Southern Open Space Preserve, a network of protected open space lands significant enough to have earned state and federal designation as a Natural Landmark.
Hikers, cyclists and even leashed dogs are welcome on the 1.8-mile Quail Loop Trail with vista points offering sweeping views of Irvine and the San Gabriel and Santa Ana mountains.
Quail Hill’s grasslands, which include native and non-native plants, feature a mosaic of annual grasses and forbs. The grasses turn green after winter rain. Wildflowers, including lupines, owl’s clover, milkweed and poppy, add hues of purple and orange.
To the south, Quail Hill adjoins Shady Canyon, which connects with Bommer Canyon and Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. To the west, Quail Hill connects with Sand Canyon Wash Trail, which ultimately leads to William Mason Regional Park.
– Jenny Rigby, director of The Acorn Group, a design firm dedicated to interpreting natural history.
BIRDS TO WATCH
Quail Hill attracts a variety of birds, from raptors looking for prey to the preserve’s namesake and state bird – the California quail.
Local photographer Nick Carver is well known for his images of the American Southwest. Here he shares some of Quail Hill’s wildflowers, which tend to reach peak bloom in the spring. Winter rainfall dictates their intensity