Day Hikes Around Orange County  by Robert Stone

Day Hikes Around Orange County Guide Book

by Robert Stone (Day Hike Books)
Day Hikes Around Orange County  by Robert Stone
Orange County lies along the coast in southern California between Los Angeles and San Diego. The county is framed by the Pacific Ocean on one side while the Santa Ana Mountains stretch along the entire back side of the county. The coast-to-mountain landscape creates an interesting, diverse terrain that offers many opportunities for exploration.

© 2017 Robert Stone/Day Hike Books. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Day Hikes Around Orange County" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 112.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 112.

Abalone Cove Shoreline Park and Eco logical Preserve is a federal reserve where grassy 180-foot bluffs offer easy access to the rocky shoreline. The 80-acre preserve extends from Abalone Cove to Portuguese Point and Sacred Cove (also known as Smugglers Cove). Sacred Cove is bordered by tidepools at both points. From Portuguese Point are magnificent views of Abalone Cove, Long Point, Sacred Cove, Inspiration Point, White Point, Point Fermin, and Catalina Island. The oceanfront park sits at the foot of the unstable and actively slipping Portuguese Bend landslide area.
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
This hike travels west into Aliso Canyon and turns north up Wood Canyon. Along the way, the trail passes Cave Rock, a 26-million-year-old sandstone formation, and Dripping Cave, a historic water-carved cave also known as Robber’s Cave. The overhanging rock shelter was used as a hideout to rob stage-coaches en route from San Diego to Los Angeles. Holes are bored into the interior sandstone walls, once used for hanging supplies on pegs.
Laguna Niguel, CA - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 5.7
Seaview Park straddles the crest of 936-foot Niguel Hill on the east boundary of Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. The ridge-top park sits on the cliffs 800 feet above Aliso Canyon and borders a residential neighborhood. At the west end of the park is the Seaview Park Overlook, a platform with displays perched on the ridge. The sweeping vistas span across the South Coast Wilderness Parks, the San Joaquin Hills, Aliso Canyon, Laguna Beach, the scalloped coastline, the communities within Saddleback Valley, and the Santa Ana Mountains. The trail follows the oceanfront ridge to Aliso Peak, where the hill dramatically drops 623 feet into the sea.
Laguna Niguel, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.5-2.8 miles
Aliso Peak is a 623-foot oceanfront summit with a bird’s-eye view of Laguna Beach and the coastline. Three routes lead to the peak, which is located at the southern tip of Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. This trail winds through the gated Laguna Sur residential area from the southeast, overlooking the coastal cliffs to the sea. The trail connects with the Aliso Peak Trail, following a ridge between Aliso Canyon and Valido Canyon to the Aliso Peak summit.
Laguna Niguel, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.5
Aliso Peak is located at the southern end of Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park near the Pacific coastline. The trail climbs up rugged Valido Canyon, an unspoiled stream-fed canyon, to a saddle on the ridge at the head of the canyon. From the saddle, two trail options head toward Aliso Peak. The level Toovet Trail, perched on the cliffs, loops around the south-facing cliff to the ocean side of Aliso Peak. The Aliso Peak Trail climbs directly to the 623-foot summit. From the peak are phenomenal vistas up and down the coastline.
Laguna Beach, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
The Aliso Summit Trail is a little known gem discretely perched on the steep cliffs of Aliso Canyon. It is tucked behind the gated community of Coronado Pointe in Laguna Niguel and borders the east boundary of Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. The serpentine trail follows 800-foot-high cliffs on the east rim of the canyon. Throughout the hike are views of the stream-fed Aliso Canyon and the Pacific Ocean.
Laguna Niguel, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
The Arroyo Trabuco Trail parallels the creek through a six-mile-long finger of designated wilderness in O’Neill Park. The near-level trail meanders through the protected riparian habitat to Oso Parkway at its south end. The narrow stretch of undeveloped land is an important wildlife corridor that links the Santa Ana Mountains with coastal Orange County.
Trabuco Canyon, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 6 or 12 miles
Back Bay Drive follows the east shore of the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve, where the ocean’s salt water mixes with the nutrient-rich freshwater from San Diego Creek, the Santa Ana Delhi Channel, and various side streams. The 752-acre wetland is the largest remaining estuary in southern California and one of the finest birding sites in North America. This hike follows the paved Back Bay Drive, a multi-use road for hikers, bikers, and occasional one-way vehicles. The road hugs the east edge of the wetland sanctuary along the base of 100-foot eroding sandstone cliffs.
Newport Beach, CA - Birding,Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 4.6
Barbara’s Lake is a 12-acre spring-fed lake in the James Dilley Greenbelt Preserve, a 173-acre parcel of land in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. Located in Laguna Canyon, just north of the Highway 73 toll road, the area forms the north boundary of the 20,000-acre South Coast Wilderness Area. Barbara’s Lake is named in honor of conservationist Barbara Rabinowitsh. It is one of three remaining natural lakes in Orange County. The year-round lake is rimmed with willows, cattails, and bulrush, offering habitat for coots, mallards, and grebes. West of Barbara’s Lake (across Laguna Canyon Road) is Bubble’s Pond. The pond was named for Lion County Safari’s escaped hippopotamus, who took up a temporary residence there. The trail winds through canyons and over hills en route to the south and east shores of Barbara’s Lake.
Laguna Beach, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.7
This backcountry trail winds through shady stands of ancient oaks and exposed chaparral-covered hillsides at the north end of the wilderness area. The trail passes weather-carved granite, grassy parklands, seasonal streams, and Pigeon Spring, an oak glen with a stone watering trough. Along the way are scenic views of San Juan Canyon, Sitton Peak, Los Pinos Peak, Bear Canyon, and Tenaja Canyon.
Lake Elsinore, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.6
This is an easy and scenic hike that meanders up fertile Bell Canyon, a quiet, natural canyon in the heart of the park. The hike forms a loop with the Oak Trail, a footpath on the west side of the canyon. The loop weaves through impressive sycamores and ancient oak woodlands. From the I-5 (San Diego) Freeway in San Juan Capistrano, take the Ortega (74) Highway exit. Drive 7.7 miles east to the posted park entrance and turn left. From the park entrance station, continue 1 .4 miles to the end of the park road by the Bell Canyon Trailhead. Park on the left. An entrance fee is required.
San Juan Capistrano, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.5
The West Ridge Trail parallels the west edge of Caspers Wilderness Park 400 feet above Bell Canyon. The hike begins on the canyon floor under towering sycamores and ancient stands of contorted, picturesque oaks. The trail climbs the sandstone cliffs on the west wall of Bell Canyon to the open ridge. From West Ridge are vistas into Canada Gobernadora (the undeveloped canyon to the west), Bell Canyon (filled with oaks and sycamores), and Santiago and Modjeska Peaks.
San Juan Capistrano, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.4
Long Beach City Beach stretches over four miles, from the port of Long Beach to the Alamitos Bay entrance channel at the Orange County border. This hike begins at Belmont Pier near the middle of the coastal beach. The 1,620-foot-long, T-shaped pier extends from the foot of 39th Place. The hike explores both shores of the narrow Alamitos Peninsula to the mouth of Alamitos Bay. The route follows the Seaside Walk (a wooden boardwalk) and Bay Shore Walk (a paved walkway) along the San Pedro Bay coastline.
Long Beach, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
This hike follows an old dirt road as it zigzags up the canyon through public and private land. (The road is a vehicle-restricted public right-of-way.) The hike begins at the mouth of Black Star Canyon and follows the canyon bottom through oak, willow, and sycamore groves, passing old ranch sites. En route, the trail climbs the north canyon wall, crossing chaparral-covered slopes to overlooks of the scenic canyon and surrounding mountains.
Silverado, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 6-15 miles
This walk along the blufftop includes views across the entire harbor. The route spans from Ken Sampson Overview Park at the west end to the Hide “Blufftop” Trail at the east end. The cliff-hugging Hide Trail is an interpretive trail with informational plaques about Richard Henry Dana and a larger-than-life statue of a hide drogher tossing hides off the cliffs. The trail includes an arched concrete wall and winding stone-lined paths, remnants of an abandoned hotel from the early 1930s. The coastal views extend across Capistrano Bay, from Dana Point to San Mateo Point.
Dana Point, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1
The Bolsa Chica tidal basin encompasses 1,300 wetland acres and 300 mesa acres between Seal Beach and Huntington Beach along the Pacific coast at the northwest end of Orange County. The Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve is a 557-acre protected wildlife habitat within the Bolsa Bay wetlands, which runs parallel to Bolsa Chica State Beach. The preserve, established in 1973, has inter-tidal mudflats, salt flats, salt marsh communities, ponds, grasslands, lowland dunes, two bird nesting islands, and flood control channels. The area is located along the Pacific Flyway, a 2,000-mile migratory bird route between Alaska and Latin America. This hike begins near the Outer Bay and loops around the slough, passing interpretive panels and overlooks with benches for wildlife viewing. The route makes a long loop parallel to Highway 1. Directly across the highway is the state beach.
Huntington Beach, CA - Birding,Hiking,Walking - Trail Length: 3
This loop hike offers a broad cross-section of habitats in the upper reaches of the park. The trail begins in Laguna Canyon and climbs up the Big Bend Trail, named for a wide curve of Laguna Canyon. The trail continues up a sage-covered hillside to Bommer Ridge. From the 900-foot ridge are views of Crystal Cove State Park, Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, the Laguna coastline, and the oak woodlands in Emerald Canyon. The trail returns to the canyon bottom along a rocky footpath.
Laguna Beach, CA - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 3.2
Limestone-Whiting Wilderness Park en compasses 4,000 acres on the north end of Lake Forest and Foothill Ranch in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains. The park, an old cattle ranch, contains riparian and oak woodlands, rolling grasslands, scrub-covered slopes, and dramatic rock formations. Four seasonal streams—Borrego, Serrano, Glass, and Aliso Creek—wind through the parkland canyons. Twenty-six miles of graded roads and foot trails traverse throughout the park for hikers, bikers, and equestrians. Borrego Canyon and Serrano Canyon are the two largest drainages in the parkland. This hike leads up Borrego Canyon to Vista Lookout, a 1,500-foot knoll on the northwest corner of the park. From the overlook are views of Red Rock Canyon, Limestone Canyon, and the Santa Ana and San Gabriel mountains. Viewing scopes atop the knoll highlight Old Saddleback, Luke Mesa, Caspers Wilderness Park, and Catalina Island. The Santiago Fire burned 90% of the area in 2007, but the landscape has been steadily recovering.
Foothill Ranch, CA - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 5.5
Red Rock Canyon is a narrow canyon surrounded by dramatic 100-foot red sandstone cliffs in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park. The wind and water-carved formations cast a red terra cotta tint from oxidized iron in the rock. Shellfish and marine fossils can be seen in the fluted and chiseled sedimentary cliffs. To help preserve the fragile serrated outcroppings, Red Rock Canyon is open to hikers only. This hike follows stream-fed Borrego Canyon to its upper reaches in Red Rock Canyon. The trail winds under a dense canopy of twisted live oaks, towering sycamores, and willows to the weathered rock sculptures in Red Rock Canyon.
Foothill Ranch, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5
Carbon Canyon Regional Park is a 124-acre park on the rolling foothills of the Chino Hill Range in Brea. The park is situated upstream from the Carbon Canyon Dam and is adjacent to the west end of Chino Hills State Park. Appoximately half of the scenic parkland has been developed, with mowed grassland and amenities, while the other half remains natural. The wooded area includes Canary Island pines, Monterey pines, eucalyptus, pepper, walnut, willow, and sycamore trees. A magical ten-acre grove of thriving coastal redwoods was planted in 1975. With more than 200 trees, it is the largest redwood grove in Southern California (and the only one in Orange County). This interpretive nature trail loops through the park along Carbon Canyon Creek.
Brea, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.2