New Trail to Open Near Orange County's 'Mini Grand Canyon'

A portion of the Shoestring Trail | Photo courtesy of OC Parks

Limestone Canyon may be known for its geologic formation called The Sinks, which is often referred to as Orange County's mini-version of the Grand Canyon* (see a photo below), but this weekend the wilderness area is getting a much smaller, but important upgrade.

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On Saturday morning county officials will unveil the new Shoestring Trail. Only 3/4ths of a mile in length, the pathway is a key link to a previously unconnected four-mile loop trail in the neighboring Loma Ridge area. The single-track trail includes a steep incline, two bridge crossings and a short boardwalk through hillside coastal sage and oak woodland habitat.

The trailhead is down the road from Irvine Lake off Santiago Canyon Road at the Augustine Staging Area, which is the public parking area. Limestone Canyon is only open once a month on so-called Wilderness Access Days (like this Saturday, June 4th), when visitors can freely roam the 20 or so miles within the park on their own between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. The only other opportunities to see the park are during organized events, such as volunteer expeditions and group exercise activities. The same goes for Loma Ridge, which will also be open on Saturday. All visitors must register online or in person.

The Sinks, known as Orange County's 'mini Grand Canyon' | Photo Courtesy Steve Francis Photography

*Some think dubbing The Sinks as a "mini Grand Canyon" is a bit far-fetched. "It's an interesting canyon, but it does not take your breath away like the Grand Canyon," said the San Diego-based blogger who goes by the name Hiking Librarian. "We paused for a few minutes and then continued on."

Orange County hiking bloggers Ashley and Brian called it "a bit hyperbole," but ultimately concluded that it's a "beautiful geological feature that is located in some of Orange County's most pristine wilderness areas and is well worth the hike."

Have you been? What's your take? Leave a comment below.

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*This post was updated after publish to reflect trail mileage within the park and the Loma Ridge loop.

About the Author

Zach Behrens is KCET's Director of News, Region and State, working on digital and on-air news products that relate to Southern California and beyond.
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