Irvine Park

Irvine Regional Park

Map to Irvine Park courtesy of OCParks

Map to Irvine Park courtesy of OCParks

Living near Irvine Park is one of the benefits of living in Orange Park Acres (OPA). Irvine Park was the very first Orange County Regional Park. If you are looking for a little bit of everything, you’ll find it in this amazing park. Within Irvine Park’s 477 acres you will find: The Orange County Zoo, a very cool little zoo that showcases local wildlife; a lake with ducks and geese that you can feed, and paddle boats that you can take out with your friends. Irvine Park even has a miniature railroad that you can take a ride on with your kids. You can rent a bicycle built for two, or a couple of horses for a trail ride through the back country of this huge regional park. There is also a swimming pool in Irvine Park that runs programs for kids during the summer. Add a ton of hiking trails, mountain bike trails, and picnic areas, and you have an amazing place full of fun, called Irvine Regional Park!

Irvine Park, Orange, California

Irvine Park, Orange, California – photo by Cynthia Kirkeby

 

When Is Irvine Park Open?

Irvine Park is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the winter and from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the summer.


 

The History of Irvine Park

Excerpted from OC Parks.com

Irvine Park was part of Don Teodosio Yorba’s original Mexican grant of Rancho Lomas de Santiago. The first recreational use of the oak grove was by the early German colonists who settled Anaheim in 1857, and the area became known as the “Picnic Grounds”.

In 1860, Don Teodosio sold his rancho for $7,000 to a Yankee trader William Wolfskill. Sheepmen from Monterey County bought the Lomas for $7,000, the same price paid six years before. As the nearby communities grew, the “Picnic Grounds” became a mecca for valley dwellers, and with organized festivities on May Day and the Fourth of July.

In 1876, the grove and the surrounding rancho became the sole property of James Irvine who had bought out his partners. Seven years after his father’s death, James, Jr. decided to give the county its first park. F. P. Nickey, then president of the Board of Supervisors, accepted what was described as the “Gift Munificent” with the donation of the 160-acre oak grove. Irvine stipulated that the area should always be kept as natural-looking as possible, and that the trees should have the fullest care. One dollar passed from the county treasury to James Irvine on October 5, 1897, and the area was named “Orange County Park”.

Changes and Expansions to Irvine Park

    • The first major development was an open dance pavilion with a bandstand on one end. The building stood for nearly thirty years, approximately where the refurbished bandstand/stage is now.
Irvine Park flower

Irvine Park flower

    • Formerly the road ran directly through the park, then through what is now Irvine Lake, past Silverado and into Modjeska Canyon. When W. M. Boring became custodian in 1901, the road was rerouted.
    • When A. B. Tiffany took over a custodian in 1907, one of his sidelines was selling soda pop to thirsty visitors. By 1912, the concession business warranted a store. A roofed stand was built just south of the present snack stand.
    • On October 21, 1913, the Board of Supervisors agreed to pay E. G. Stinson $3,160 to excavate a basin for a “boat pond”. Working with a pair of mules and a scraper, Stinson scooped out the old marsh and diked up two sides. The lake filled from the springs in its bottom, so much so that a spillway had to be installed for the overflow. When Irvine Dam was built, water no longer ran down Santiago Creek and the park lake had to be artificially filled. The boat house was built in 1914 and the county purchased eight redwood rowboats.
    • The early 1920’s saw some park improvements such as wooden picnic tables and restrooms. Commercial electricity was not available till the mid-20’s. In the late 20’s, a “peewee” golf course was built just outside the old park entrance. Later, the site was leased to Ray Martin and his father who added a miniature railroad with a quarter-mile track. The trains left from the “Irvine Park Depot (Pop. 5 or 6)”. After several years, the burros from the burro ride were traded for bicycles, starting with ten in 1932.
    • The Spanish American War Memorial was also dedicated on November 5, 1926. The monument has a tablet cast in metal recovered from the U.S.S. Maine. It honors four Orange Countians who went down with the ship in Havana Harbor in 1898. On the other side is a bronze plaque with the Muster Roll of Company L, 7th California Volunteer Infantry, which lists every Orange County Spanish American War veteran.
  • In the summer of 1928, the Board of Supervisors changed the park’s name to “Irvine”. A building program followed with a new pavilion, an exhibition hall, and a new store designed by Frederick H. Eley.
  • Myford Irvine donated six acres in 1950, and twenty more acres in 1958, starting park expansion. In 1969, the County purchased 177 acres to the west, and in 1971, an additional 114 acres, bringing the park to its present size of 477 acres.
  • Throughout its history, Irvine Park has housed a wide range of animals. William A. Kinsley succeeded Fay Irwin as superintendent in 1960. He built up a compound of birds and animals which became known as the park’s zoo.
  • The park underwent a major renovation and redevelopment in 1982- 83. This included restoring the old buildings; redevelopment of the three group picnic areas; addition of three playgrounds and horseshoe pits; new turf and landscape; and relocating the roadways. A new zoo facility was also constructed which includes a children’s barnyard area and native animal exhibits. The year 1983 also brought the listing of the park on the National Registry of Historic Places.

 

Irvine Park has a rich history, and contains some of the oldest Coast Live Oaks in Orange County. Concern for the preservation of the park’s specimen oak trees necessitated much of the redevelopment and redesign of the park’s facilities.

Be sure to buy an annual permit for OC regional parks available at the park’s entrance. The pass is half price starting August 1st of each year.


Irvine Park Location Map


The New Full Color Irvine Park Trails Maps

Irvine Regional Park Map

Irvine Regional Park Map

Download the Map in PDF format (8.5 x 11) Irvine_Regional_Map

 

Irvine Park Trails Map

Click on the map below to download a PDF version of the Irvine-Park-trails map.

Irvine Park trail map

Irvine Park trail map, courtesy of OC Parks

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