Bicyclists, joggers, walkers, hikers, roller-bladers and other outdoor enthusiasts will find exploring the Upper Newport Bay is easier with the recently refurbished Back Bay Loop Trail. Improvements to the trail were made possible as part of a $1.6 million gift from The Irvine Company, in honor of Newport Beach’s 100th anniversary.
“One of The Irvine Company’s highest priorities is to help advance projects that increase public access to the important resources that are unique to our area, like the Back Bay,” said Dan Miller, senior vice president for The Irvine Company. “We were pleased to work collaboratively with the city, the county and other stakeholders to ensure the completion of this important project.”
The gift from The Irvine Company was used to repair and improve the 10.5-mile trail, including the addition of signage as it winds around Upper Newport Bay with scenic stops at places like Upper Castaways Park, the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center, the new, under construction, Back Bay Science Center and Big Canyon.
“The Upper Newport Bay is a haven for naturalists, environmentalists and recreationalists,” said Newport Beach Mayor Steven Rosansky. “These improvements
will enhance their experience around the bay and further improve the outstanding outdoor lifestyle unique to Newport Beach.”
The Back Bay Trail has multiple entry points along the loop, with opportunities for scenic stops and visits to local educational facilities along the way, including:
-Back Bay Science Center at Shellmaker Island
-Newport Aquatic Center
-Upper Castaways Park
-Environmental Nature Center
-Mariners Park and Library
-Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve
-Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center
-Back Bay View Park
-Big Canyon informational center
“The Back Bay Loop Trail is one of the premier recreational and environmental assets in our region. These improvements allow all of us to enjoy even more this truly magnificent treasure that is right here in Orange County,” said John Moorlach, Orange County Supervisor, Second District, which includes the city of Newport Beach.
The trail also links with the 22-mile Mountains to Sea trail, which runs from Upper Newport Bay through Irvine past Peters Canyon Reservoir and into the rugged mountains of Weir Canyon north of Irvine Regional Park and provides an exciting opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts to discover a magnificent regional trail experience.
“We are really honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with Newport Beach’s farsighted leaders on projects like this, which, we hope, will enable residents and visitors to more fully and easily enjoy and appreciate the city’s spectacular natural resources,” said Miller.
There are six primary habitats in the Upper Newport Bay that support a variety of plants, birds, animals and marine life. Those habitats include Open Water, Mudflat, Saltmarsh, Freshwater Marsh, Riperian and Upland. The Back Bay is also home to one
endangered plant species, the Saltmarsh Bird’s Beak.
Nearly 200 species of birds call the Back Bay home, and it is an important stop-over during winter migration, when more than 35,000 birds use the Bay. Six rare or endangered species nest in the area, including the Light Footed Clapper Rail, Brown Pelican, Belding’s Savannah Sparrow, Black Rail, Peregrine Falcon and California Least Tern.
For more information about Upper Newport Bay and the Back Bay Loop Trail, visit www.irvineranchlandreserve.org.