Irvine Ranch’s “Grand Canyon”

Inside Irvine

In the southern portion of OC Parks’ Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve sits “The Sinks,” a geological formation consisting of layered sandstone cliffs that resemble those in the Grand Canyon. With over 20 million years of aging, the red sandstone cliffs have become more resistant to erosion than many other regional sedimentary rock formations. As a result, they have created beautiful outcrops and ridgelines in a number of local mountain ranges.  

The Sinks are part of 50,000 acres of land preserved by Irvine Ranch. The Canyon is home to raccoons, squirrels, snakes, gray foxes, bobcats, and rabbits. Because of its rich diversity of plants and animals, registration is required to access the area, but all programs are free. Most people will access The Sinks by hiking the 4 mile (8 mile round trip) trail available through a Wilderness Access Day, usually the first Saturday of each month from 7am to 2pm.

As more and more people learn about The Sinks, it’s reputation as “Orange County’s miniature Grand Canyon” will grow. Guided activities and Wilderness Access Days have already brought hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, equestrians and photographers to this unique natural formation and will continue to do so. For those who work in Irvine, it’s all about exploring the area around them and appreciating what the city has to offer both inside the city, but also in the surrounding areas.