Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and Ecological Reserve represent approximately 1,000 acres of open space. Two important plant communities are found on the bluffs - grasslands and coastal sage scrub. Upper Newport Ecological Reserve totals 752 acres. This coastal wetland, one of the largest in southern California , is renowned as one of the finest bird watching sites in North America. The Bay is home to one endangered plant species - Saltmarsh Bird's Beak. Considered a "critical estuary" habitat - Upper Newport Bay is one of the most pristine remaining estuaries in Southern California.
In Newport Beach, PCH (Pacific Coast Highway State Route 1) or Hwy 73 (part of the toll road, but not this section) to Jamboree. Jamboree to Back Bay Road.
TIPS FOR YOUR VISIT
As well as your botanical equipment, bring binoculars and a bird identification book. Wear shoes that can get wet. Stop at all the turnouts where you can reach the water especially where the fresh water meets the saltwater. There are tides. Bring water and snacks. Take your time, a whole morning is usually enough.
Upper Newport Bay is blessed with a wide variety of plant species, each adapted to the particular habitat in which it grows. The plants found in the saltmarsh are called halophytes – from the Greek words for salt (halo) and lover (phyte). In the lower tidal areas cordgrass predominates. This plant is adapted to grow submerged in saltwater for much of the time. On higher ground that is covered by water only occasionally pickleweed is most abundant. Other halophytes found at or above the high tide mark and adjacent roadside/barren areas are the saltmarsh bird’s beak (rare), fleshy jaumea, sea lavender, brewer’s saltbush, sea blite, and alkali heath. http://newportbay.org/wildlife/plants/
Back Bay Trail is easy to drive, many pullouts or you can walk using a car shuttle, start at the bottom of the map 2.87 miles http://nbgis.newportbeachca.gov/gispub/recreation/walkingtrails/images/Back%20Bay%20Trail.pdf Back Bay loop trail 10.5 miles http://www.newportbeachca.gov/how-do-i-/view/things-to-do/back-bay-loop-trail Mountains to the Sea National Recreation Trail 22 miles http://www.americantrails.org/nationalrecreationtrails/trailNRT/MountainstoSea-CA.html