Parking lots, camping to reopen this weekend at Orange County parks

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Bicyclists take off on a morning ride through Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park on Feb. 14, 2014. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Bicyclists take off on a morning ride through Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park on Feb. 14, 2014. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to reopen parking lots at all county parks this weekend, lifting a monthslong closure meant to deter visitors.

Restrooms will also reopen at regional and wilderness parks in the county starting Saturday. The board said it made the decision after consulting the county’s top public health official, Dr. Nichole Quick.

Campsites will reopen at the county’s two camping parks, Caspers Wilderness Park and O’Neill Regional Park. But capacity will be reduced, and sites will be available only on a first-come, first-served basis — reservations won’t be accepted, officials said.

Additionally, fishing will be allowed again at Irvine Lake.

Parking at county beaches is still closed, but the beaches themselves are open for active recreation, with the exception of Thousand Steps.

The parks have maintained access to people on foot, but parking lots closed March 25 in an effort to deter visitors coming from other areas. Visitors are still asked to maintain 6 feet of distance from others, avoid crowded areas and wash their hands as often as possible.

“Many Orange County residents do not live within walking distance of a park, especially our seniors and disabled residents,” First District Supervisor Andrew Do said in a statement. “Now all residents have the opportunity to access County parks while adhering to social distancing guidelines.”

Some spots and amenities will stay closed, including the O.C. Zoo, playgrounds, picnic shelters and nature centers. All interior spaces will stay closed, including buildings at Heritage Hill Historical Park, although the grounds will be open.

The county has more than 60,000 acres of parks and open space, officials said. Those with parking lots reopening this weekend include:

  • Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
  • Carbon Canyon Regional Park
  • Caspers Wilderness Park
  • Clark Regional Park
  • Craig Regional Park
  • Irvine Regional Park
  • Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
  • Laguna Niguel Regional Park
  • Mason Regional Park
  • Mile Square Regional Park
  • O’Neill Regional Park
  • Peters Canyon Regional Park
  • Riley Wilderness Park
  • Santiago Oaks Regional Park
  • Tri-City Regional Park
  • Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve
  • Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park
  • Wieder Regional Park
  • Yorba Regional Park

Officials warned that the openings are subject to change, and could be adjusted if conflicting state or federal orders are issued. Updates on closures and operations will be posted to OCParks.com.

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