Every morning, afternoon and night, growing numbers of Irvine residents are walking, jogging, riding their bikes, pushing strollers, picnicking and in many other ways enjoying the outdoors, courtesy of one of the most unusual and picturesque recreational amenities in Orange County: the Jeffrey Open Space Trail.
They may not know it, but they’re reaping the benefits of a decision made 21 years ago as part of the City of Irvine’s thoughtful commitment to master planning. The Jeffrey Open Space Trail was (and remains) a key part of the city’s landmark Open Space Initiative. Overwhelmingly approved by Irvine voters in June 1988, the initiative made possible the permanent preservation of large areas of land throughout Irvine as carefully timed master-planned growth occurred in other areas of the city.
Back then, city and Irvine Company planners envisioned the Jeffrey Open Space Trail as a wide, woodsy, meandering, charming open space resource that would ultimately traverse the entire length of Jeffrey Road in the heart of the city. Today, the trail is well on its way to fulfilling that vision.
Large segments of the trail—a key part of Irvine’s acclaimed network of trails—have been completed and are easily accessible from the villages of Woodbury and Portola Springs®. Ultimately, the Jeffrey Open Space Trail will connect at both ends to regional trails leading deep into preserved wild lands on The Irvine Ranch®, serving as a link to the beautiful vast open space preservation areas north and south of the city.
As originally planned, the trail offers an interesting blend of things to do and see as it meanders through more woodsy sections and then and opens to large expanses of parks and meadows. The trail features an 11-foot-wide paved trail for bicyclists, as well as a parallel five-foot-wide unpaved path ideal for joggers and walkers. Both sides of the trail are heavily planted with trees and other foliage, which have noticeably matured since the first portion of the trail opened four years ago. There’s even a section dedicated to Irvine’s fascinating history as an important national agricultural hub.
The Jeffrey Open Space Trail will continue to unfold over time as each new Irvine village takes shape, eventually stretching approximately five miles from the foothills north of Irvine all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
As a gateway to the great outdoors, with natural beauty and new pathways to discover at every turn, the Jeffrey Open Space Trail has been designed to ultimately provide connections to some of Orange County’s most breathtaking locations. Among the future planned connections are the Venta Spur Trail and Hicks Canyon Trail as well as the proposed Great Park and the 70-acre Gateway Park. To the north, the Jeffrey Open Space Trail (through adjoining trails) is expected to access Lomas Ridge and the rugged canyons of Limestone, Round, Baker, and Santiago. To the south, it is envisioned to reach Quail Hill, eventually connecting to Crystal Cove State Park and the ocean; and along University Drive, leading to Upper Newport Bay.
Not surprisingly, the trail is a hit with residents.
“We’re always walking the Woodbury trails and connecting to the Jeffrey Open Space Trail with our daughter in her stroller and our dog on the leash,” Woodbury resident Kristen Montano said.
Another Woodbury resident, Nathan Buckley, noted: “In the summer, we can ride our bikes to the beach almost every weekend via the Jeffrey Open Space Trail, accessible directly from the Village of Woodbury. With easy access to nature trails from Woodbury, you can be on your way in no time.”