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Get your walking shoes as Newport’s Back Bay is Waiting

Dec 01, 2010 by Sandy Schroeder

A stream of walkers, joggers and bikers all flowed along the Bay’s trail, as snowy egrets stand regally in the midst of the Newport Back Bay wetlands, one of the largest and most pristine in Southern California.

I watched it all on a weekday morning, savoring the scene, just a blink away from the bustling urban world of Newport and Irvine.

High overhead a steady stream of jets made their way to the Orange County Airport, and busy roads and busier freeways, nearby, teamed with traffic. Amazingly, this tranquil spot exists completely ringed by all the trappings of the urban world. And even more pleasing, this site is available for kayaking, horseback riding, biking and canoeing too.

It is easy to understand why many Orange County walking groups make the Back Bay a regular destination for early evening walks, and locals use it at every opportunity. It’s an easy hour’s walk, just right for a group to handle after work.

Some 1,000 acres of open space exist with the Nature Preserve surrounding the Ecological Reserve, and the urban population forms a ring around it all. Other important tenants living here include the California Gnatcatcher, the San Diego Cactus Wren, and Burrowing Owl. They are all endangered species.

It’s a must for birdwatchers.

Known as one of the finest bird watching spots in North America, as many as 30,000 birds may use this site at anytime during winter migrations. Rare and endangered species that have settled here are the Light Footed Clapper Rail, Brown Pelican, Belding’s Savannah Sparrow, Black Rail, Peregrine Falcon and California Least Tern.

The Back Bay Science Center on Shellmaker Islandprovides special programs, campfires, and walking tours.

The Peter & Mary Muth Interpretive Center, located at 2301 University Drive, is a 10,000 square foot educational facility cleverly built into the side of one of the bluffs on the north side of the Bay. It’s so well hidden and designed to blend in, that many people don’t even know it’s there. The Center is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00am to 4:00pm.

Kayakers abound

You can see and experience the Bay all by kayak, either by tour or just renting a kayak from the Newport Aquatic Center. Either way, sea lions, birds, and even a dolphin or two, might show up.

Put it on your OC List

If you’re in OC, anywhere near Irvine or Newport, or on Pacific Coast Highway, this rare treat is within easy reach.

Whenever you do come, though, spend an hour or more during an afternoon and enjoy. The park is at the corner of University Drive and Irvine Avenue, and is open every day.

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Biking, Family, Hiking/Walking, Orange County, Parks, Recreation, SoCal

2 Responses to “Get your walking shoes as Newport’s Back Bay is Waiting”

  1. Debi says:

    When we went on a bird watching tour of Malibu Lagoon, the guides recommended this spot. I’m so glad you went! This place is definitely on my to-do list. Looks AMAZING!
    Debi´s last blog ..The 2010 Holiday Gift Guide for Nature Explorers My ComLuv Profile


    Sandy Schroeder Reply:


    It is amazing. Newport and Irvine surround the area, but it is like a totally different world.


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