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OC Parks opens Gypsum Canyon Wilderness

The 500-acre site has 6 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding.

November 15, 2023 – Avid hikers and equestrian enthusiasts have some new trails to explore in Orange County.

On Nov. 14, OC Parks hosted a ribbon-cutting for the new 500-acre park and trail system within OC Parks’ Irvine Ranch Open Space.

Gypsum Canyon Wilderness on the eastern edge of Anaheim near Yorba Linda opened to the public Friday, and will be accessible through scheduled programs.

“This day has been in the works for a really long time,” said OC Parks Director Pam Passow. “We are excited to open this natural space to the public.”

Passow was joined at the ribbon-cutting by Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman Donald P. Wagner, as well as supervising park rangers Nick Martinico and Kevin Carrera, Irvine Ranch Conservancy President Michael O’Connell, OC Parks Commission Vice Chair Bert Ashland, Irvine Co. vice presidents Mark Denny and Dean Kirk, and Irvine Co. Senior Vice President Bill Martin.

“OC Parks stewards these lands in close coordination with the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, the Orange County Parks Foundation and the Nature Conservancy,” Passow said.

To prepare the area for the public, the Irvine Ranch Conservancy built key staging area infrastructure, facilitated natural resource surveys, and printed and installed trail signs. The conservancy prepared docents — who also attended the ribbon-cutting, one on horseback — to lead public programs on the land.

Gypsum Canyon Wilderness contains 6 miles of new trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding and multiple lookout points with views of the Santa Ana Mountains. The area also features prehistoric rock formations of cobble and sandstone bluffs believed to have formed 16 million to 20 million years ago, when the earliest horses roamed Earth.

Today, nature lovers can discover mule deer, red-tailed hawks, California gnatcatchers and bobcats in their protected and preserved native habitats in the area, as well as oak and sycamore trees and California poppies come spring.

“This is going to add yet another remarkable open space to be explored by the residents of Orange County,” said Wagner, recalling the Saddleback Wilderness near Silverado that opened to the public April 1.

Although Gypsum Canyon Wilderness is accessible only through scheduled guided and self-guided programs with advance registration, there is a full roster of such opportunities scheduled for November and December.

On Friday, hikers are invited to work off Thanksgiving dinner with a Turkey Burner fitness hike starting at 8 a.m. Open Wilderness Access Days for December include early morning hikes Dec. 16 and 22.

Visit for a full list of scheduled activities within Irvine Ranch Open Space.

Wagner said he hopes Orange County residents will take advantage of the new space and enjoy the many events OC Parks will host there. “Gypsum Canyon Wilderness is full of adventure waiting to be discovered,” he said.