News Details

Improved Emerald Canyon Trail Now Open

With the help of non-profit organizations, members of the public and community groups, OC Parks has re-opened the Emerald Canyon Trail. The trail was closed due to extensive damage sustained after heavy rains in 2010. The trail reconstruction included constructing a 60-foot bridge over a landslide area.

The project was a partnership between OC Parks, as the land owner, and Irvine Ranch Conservancy and Laguna Canyon Foundation, as non-profit support groups focused on the protection and preservation of the open space. Working together with community groups such as SHARE Mountain Bike Club and other volunteers from the public, the challenging project made constant progress over a six-month period.

Initial restoration work began on Emerald Canyon back in January. The most challenging step prior to opening the trail was to complete the construction of an additional bridge over a deep gully created by the storm damage. More than 1,500 bridge components were either hand-carried along the single-track trail or hauled by a powered wheelbarrow approximately ¾ mile to the bridge location.

Once at the work-site, the components had to be partially assembled and then hoisted across the gully on a suspended cable system. The final assembled bridge weighs in at just over 10,000 pounds, and is capable of handling equestrians and light maintenance equipment loads of up to 4,000 pounds.

Vegetation along the closed trail was overgrown and needed to be heavily trimmed, to create a final width of 36 inches. Crews also elevated the trail in sections that needed a natural drain to channel runoff away from the trail surface. A wooden bridge was constructed over a large section of trail that had eroded away.

Though the final bridge is complete, additional trail trimming is still needed. For more information on the project and how to volunteer, visit or