Down by the Bay (Upper Newport Bay, California)


When your hotel is situated on the edge of a nature preserve, it’s bound to get interesting. When there’s ten miles of trails winding through it? Even better. I spent a lot of time on the trails of Upper Newport Bay Preserve and Ecological Reserve a few years ago, both strolling with my camera and running without it. There’s nothing like fresh scenery to add a little spring to your step and pull some time off your mile.

Upper Newport Bay Map and Visitor Information

Upper Newport Bay is dedicated wetlands. Without intervention and education, it would eventually fill with sediment and evolve into meadowland. Home to half a dozen rare or endangered bird species, the estuary hosts over 30,000 birds a day during winter migration. Birds are only part of the story though; fish, native plants and assorted critters and mammals share the space in an intricate food web sustained by the unique conditions of a wetlands habitat. Some thirty to forty percent of California’s halibut catch is said to originate from spawning beds in the Bay. A flood control project in the late 60’s has impacted the Bay to the point that regular dredging is necessary to maintain its natural state. Fortunately, many believe the estuary to be worth the effort.The serene liquid landscape teems with life; mollusks, fish and snails emerged along the waterline as well as assorted shorebirds that fluttered away at our approach. We searched in vain for a California trapdoor spider, but a sleek long-tailed weasel caught my eye as it slipped across a narrow channel.

The Muth Interpretive Center was an unexpected find, tucked away beneath a curve of the trail. The paths of an outdoor garden led us down to fascinating displays on the Bay’s ecosystem. We arrived with questions and the employees were more than happy to share information and point us to helpful exhibits. Muth Center guides also helped us identify a couple of plants that intrigued us, including the coyote gourd or coyote melon plant.

The trailing vines of this flowering plant were expansive, invading the territories of all surrounding vegetation and even creeping out onto the horse trail that runs alongside the biking and running path. Jumping the vines daily as I ran the bayside path seemed reason enough for an introduction…


Updated from July 29, 2009.

Newport Beach Things To Do

Upper Newport Bay Map and Visitor Information

1000 acres of preserved wetland with 10 miles of hiking/biking/running trails. Kayaking, fishing, birdwatching...

Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center: Exhibits and information

Directions/Phone: 2301 University Drive; Newport Beach, CA 92660(949) 923 2290    Website

Newport Aquatic Center: Kayak and pontoon boat tours

Directions/Phone: 1 Whitecliffs Drive; Newport Beach, CA 92660(949) 646-7725   Website

View Upper Newport Bay Preserve and Ecological Reserve in a larger map

18 Comments to Down by the Bay (Upper Newport Bay, California)

  1. Your posts are always informative.

  2. Beautiful place to be! Thanks for taking us there!

  3. Heather

    Rainfield: I really enjoy exploring and learning about new places. Can you tell? Your site takes me into the Malaysian jungle which is always an interesting adventure!
    Mark: You would appreciate how well used the trails are -lots of cyclists, joggers, rollerbladers and horseback riders at peak exercise times, with enough trail for everyone.

  4. Trisha Pearson

    Wow! What an awesome place to vacation. I hope you enjoy the rest of your trip. Have a safe and happy 4th!

  5. You have a great blog there with a lot of work involved in it.
    Well done and keep up the good work.

  6. An Eco Preserve! Another gem of a location.

  7. What a beautiful landscape. That trailing vine makes me want to hunt it down at my florist so I can have it in my living room!

  8. Heather

    Trisha: It was a wonderful trip with a lot of variety this time. Southern California beaches and the mountains of the Sierra Nevada… I wandered through crowds in San Francisco and quiet woods in Yosemite. Rode the BART, rode a mountain bike. Fun, huh?
    Donald: Thank you very much! I thoroughly enjoy your sea stories. Hopefully, some of my readers will also click your link and travel to the fishing waters of Scotland.
    Hi Graham: I’m hoping this means your new router arrived and your computer problems are fixed! Thanks…
    Fly Girl: Southern California’s rather unusual botany intrigues me too. On a previous visit I heard that Theodor Seuss Geisel (“Dr Seuss”) had spent some years in La Jolla, and that went far in explaining some of his wackier illustrations!

  9. Perfect!

  10. Hi, Super post, Need to mark it on Digg

  11. Heather

    Nadine and Flash, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  12. – da best. Keep it going!

  13. Thanks much, Charlie!

  14. hi. great article!

  15. Heather

    Thank you, Attaiftit.

  16. It is so great that there are people who protect the nature!

  17. Happy hiking and be healthy.

    Greeting from Malaysia.

  18. Good to hear from you, Rainfield! Hope all is well with you too!

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