This summer is a great time to get to know the wild side of Orange County. Here are the best Orange County hiking trails where local like to escape the suburbs and enjoy a bit of much-needed nature and fresh air.
Top of the World
Where: Laguna Beach
According to the Yelp reviews Top of the World is one of those hikes that has a little bit of everything. On the west end of the trail, you’ll find higher elevation and more hillside views with minimal shade. On the east side of the park (the car wreck trail) you’ll find more greenery, shade, and water. And the very north ends in a neighborhood. Reviews said it’s a great trail to do for a sunrise or sunset hike up to the view. Depending on which path you take you’ll have a different experience which also means you might need to do this hike several times to see it all.
Warning: It’s a high climb so the hike is pretty steep! Make sure you’ve got good shoes with grip.
Peters Canyon Regional Park
Tucked in the back corner of Orange behind North Tustin along the toll road is Peters Canyon Regional Park. It’s a lot of fun to explore with tons of trail options for beginners, moderate hikers and advanced hikers. Peter’s Canyon is also a great choice for biking and jogging. Start off with the flat trail and make your way up to the hill trails on the 5 mile loop which is a favorite. It’s a great place to get moving and enjoy the scenery. The park closes at sunset each day and parking is $3.
Warning: There’s quite a bit of poison oak so stick to the middle of the marked trail.
Santiago Oaks Regional Park
According to the reviews Santiago Oaks Regional Park has more challenging trails than Peters Canyon but not as strenuous as Black Star and Holy Jim. At Santiago Oaks expect to see the historic dam, stepping stones along the creek, as well as horseback riders and mountain bikers along the trails. There are several fun paths to choose from Parking is $5 on weekends and $3 on week days.
Warning: Watch out for rattlesnakes and yelpers suggest printing out your own map before heading out to help navigate all the trails.
Weir Canyon Wilderness Park
Hidden in a residential area of Anaheim Hills is the Weir Canyon Wilderness Park. Walkers, joggers, mountain bikers, and dogs welcome! Great views but not much shade so leave early and pack a hat and some sunscreen. There are several hikes to try out ranging from about 2 miles to just over 5 miles. If you go for the longer hike, expect inclines and bit of huffing and puffing (not too much though, you can do it!). Parking is free and it’s free to enter the park as well.
Warning: If you go this summer start early and bring plenty of water, without much shade this trail heats up quick!
Black Star Canyon Trail
Where: Sanitago Canyon
Black Star Canyon Trial is one of the most advanced hiking trails in Orange County according to the Yelp reviews. The Falls Trail is about 4-5 mile round trip with lots of boulders to climb and creeks to cross which is fun, but more strenuous than your average trail which means no small children. Get your monkey climbing skills on and enjoy the hike and workout. There are more trails to explore up the mountain and through the canyon as well. Expect to see lots of wildlife like lizards, salamanders, beetles and maybe even deer!
Warning: No bathrooms!
Holy Jim Falls Trail
Where: Trabuco Canyon
Yes, still in Orange County but back in the boonies. Holy Jim Falls Trail is a great hike but it’s important to know up front – the journey there is more impressive than the falls (especially because of the drought). You will go over streams, climb some small rocks, cross logs and wind along a dirt road. There’s quite a bit of shade which is nice however in the heat of day the trail can get hot and muggy with plenty of bugs.
Warning: A high clearance car is the best bet to get up to the trail. The terrain is bumpy and your compact car might get banged up. There are a few lots on the way up too so you can park there if you don’t want to risk it all the way up.
Crystal Cove State Park: El Moro Canyon
Where: Laguna Beach
Great beach hike no matter what your experience level. Crystal Cove has a great loop around El Moro Canyon with a good view of the beach and some gorgeous luxury real estate nearby. There’s not much shade so bring a hat and water but the trails are wide and easy to walk on. There are some steep hills to make it a workout but nothing the kids can’t handle. There are also several longer more advanced hikes to take advantage of if you’re looking for a longer, harder day. Plus you can always walk down and have a stroll on the beach!
Warning: Parking is $15.
Carbon Canyon Regional Park
Well maintained, when you first enter Carbon Canyon Regional Park you’ll find your average park facilities like a playground, picnic tables, a lake and tennis courts. The most popular trail is the low impact 2-mile hike to the Redwood Groves. Not as big as what you’ll find in Northern California but beautiful and majestic nonetheless. The entrance fee is $3, parking is $5. Hikes are easy with minimal incline, relaxing and beautiful.
Warning: If you’re an avid expert hiker, this trail may be too mellow for you.
What’s your favorite Orange County hike? Leave a comment and share your go-to place to get your nature on!