8 miles of new trails: Red Rock Wilderness welcomes visitors in Silverado

Red Rock Wilderness is a 1,500-acre area within OC Parks' Irvine Ranch Open Space.
(Courtesy of OC Parks)

Earlier this month OC Parks added another park to explore in Orange County with the debut of Red Rock Wilderness, a 1,500-acre area within Irvine Ranch Open Space. The park boasts more than 8 miles of new trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding among vibrant sandstone and cobble bluffs, overlooking views of the Santa Ana Mountains.

The opening of the land for public use follows the 2023 introduction of Saddleback Wilderness and Gypsum Canyon Wilderness to the OC Parks system, adding nearly 10 miles of multi-use trails in the Irvine Ranch Open Space. Red Rock Wilderness is part of the 25,000 acres donated from the Irvine Co. to the county of Orange for preservation and recreation.

OC Parks Supervising Park Ranger Kevin Carrera and Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman Donald P. Wagner were both on hand for the ribbon-cutting commemorating the opening of Red Rock Wilderness on May 15.


“Red Rock Wilderness is the perfect spot for your next outdoor adventure,” said Wagner. “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.”

According to the OC Parks website, Red Rock Wilderness stands on a 20- to 40-million-year-old Sespe formation, a geologic unit widespread throughout southern and south central California. The formation consists of fossiliferous sedimentary rock made up of mainly sandstones and conglomerates stacked in a riverine or shoreline environment.

At one time the area was home to early rhinos and crocodiles, and it’s easy to imagine the prehistoric past among rocks turned reddish-brown and sometimes maroon as a result of sediment oxidizing over the course of millions of years of erosion.

Hikers aren’t likely to see crocs today, though the area is home to smaller creatures like bobcats, mule deer, gray fox and a variety of bird species. The space is fertile with native plants like California poppies, lupine and other wildflowers as well as coast live oaks, prickly pear cactus and coastal sage scrub.

This month and into June, OC Parks will host a series of free self-guided and docent-led programs to encourage the exploration of the newest trails.

On June 15, a self-guided opportunity from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. will invite visitors to enjoy the scenic views and also have the chance to give voluntary feedback through on-site participation surveys. Visitors will have the opportunity to make suggestions for several unnamed trails too.

On June 16, a moderate-paced mountain bike ride will be led by OC Parks, trekking from Red Rock Wilderness to Loma Ridge from 8 to 11 a.m. Participation is free although advance registration required.