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Orange County

Want to Know a Secret?

May 17, 2001|DON TORMEY | Los Angeles Times

Limestone Canyon, little known but open to the public by reservation, promises unusual sights--even a hint of the Grand Canyon.

Longing for adventure? Or at least a respite from traffic, cell phones and office buildings? Take a trip to one of Orange County's best-kept secrets, Limestone Canyon.

Nestled opposite Modjeska and Silverado Canyons off Santiago Canyon Road, Limestone Canyon Regional Park is a small-scale version of Arizona's Grand Canyon.

Also called the Northern Reserve, this richly colored geological wonder is part of 17,000 acres of once-inaccessible wilderness owned by the Irvine Co. and managed by the Nature Conservancy.

The Irvine Co. hired the nonprofit conservation organization to manage the area's habitat and programs to enhance public use. The conservancy offers free hiking tours through majestic oak woodlands, fragrant coastal sage scrub and a wealth of wildlife and other vegetation. The walks also traverse scenic canyons, including "the Sinks," a many layered, clay-colored canvas of earth.

Hikes range from a moderately easy two-hour, two-mile trip to a more strenuous five-hour, 8- to 10-mile trek. Moonlight hikes, mountain biking and horseback riding also can be arranged. Reservations are required. Information: (714) 832-7478.

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