Best Easy Day Hikes Orange County  by Randy Vogel

Best Easy Day Hikes: Orange County Guide Book

by Randy Vogel (Falcon Guides)
Best Easy Day Hikes Orange County  by Randy Vogel
Best Easy Day Hikes Orange County features concise descriptions and easy-to-follow maps of twenty-four easily manageable hikes through Orange County's remarkably varied landscape-from sandy beaches in the north to rocky shorelines and the San Joaquin Hills in the south; from inland canyons to cooling waterfalls and stunning viewpoints in the Santa Ana Mountains.

© 2009 Randy Vogel/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Easy Day Hikes: Orange County" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 24.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 24.

This trail takes you from the busy Ortega Highway corridor into the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness. Incredible vistas of some of the wildest sections of the Santa Ana Mountains are your reward. Despite the relatively short nature of the hike, you very quickly lose all signs of civilization.
Lake Elsinore, CA - Hiking,Mountain Biking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 4
This short hike makes a loop around this restored estuary and offers wonderful opportunities to observe a wide variety of bird species. Bolsa Chica features an easy, wheelchair-accessible trail along a newly restored estuary that offers ample wildlife viewing and is perfect for a short family outing. Crystal Cove State Park, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, and Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park offer longer and more challenging hikes into the coastal hills and canyons.
Huntington Beach, CA - Birding,Hiking - Trail Length: 1.5
The trail follows beside, across, and through Borrego Canyon Creek and reaches the more open and undeveloped hillsides. Eventually you strike out onto the narrow and very scenic Red Rock Canyon Trail, which meanders through oak woodland and coastal sage scrub to 100-foot-high red sandstone cliffs in Red Rock Canyon. In 2007 the Santiago Fire burned nearly 90 percent of the park. As of this writing, the park is open and in the process of natural recovery. Please respect the process by staying on established trails and following park rules.
Foothill Ranch, CA - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 5
This excellent short loop follows a footpath up an open canyon populated with sycamore and oak until you climb atop a high ridge. From here you follow a scenic foot trail down the spine of another ridge to your starting point.
Laguna Beach, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.8
This longer loop hike takes you up one of the few unspoiled coastal canyons in the region and then up to a high ridge over the Pacific Ocean that offers great views of the rugged coastline.
Laguna Beach, CA - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 4.7
El Cariso Nature Trail is an ideal short hike for families. With striking vistas to the north, west, and south, it winds around a large knoll above the El Cariso Ranger Station, which is just south of the Ortega Highway.
San Juan Capistrano, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.4
The hike into Holy Jim Canyon is one of the most scenic and interesting in the Santa Ana Mountains. The hike passes under a multitude of trees and crosses Holy Jim Creek many times before eventually reaching the falls, a 35-foot cascade and popular picnic spot.
Corona, CA - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 2.7
This hike begins with a scenic footpath that proceeds up an open valley into a riparian canyon featuring several seasonal stream crossings and the 50-foot Laurel Canyon Falls. Fire roads then lead to an ocean overlook and an easy downhill back to your car.
Laguna Beach, CA - Birding,Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 3.5
This short in-and-out hike quickly gains elevation then takes you into the remarkably remote-feeling upper Little Sycamore Canyon. A casual stroll in the upper canyon leads to a final uphill push to reach a high point with nice views. This is an excellent family hike. An optional (and much longer) loop hike is also possible. Either before or after your hike, be sure to visit the Nix Nature Center, which contains great exhibits and activities for children and adults alike. There are toilets and water fountains at the center. From the west end of the parking lot, head directly west up a small hill on the wide Little Sycamore Canyon Trail. If you visit the nature center first, you can head northwest from the center’s entrance along Mary’s Trail, cross a bridge, and make a quick switchback to the Little Sycamore Canyon Trail.
Laguna Beach, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2-5.2 miles
The Live Oak Trail is a combination of wide foot trail and fire road in the western section of O’Neill Regional Park. This hike traverses some of the less traveled and most scenic areas of the park. Despite the trail’s proximity to residential development, within minutes from your car you will find yourself in open woodland and grassy meadows. Over the course of 1.5 miles, you climb 600 feet to a spectacular summit and observation point. From the end of Meadow Ridge, turn left (east) down a paved and dirt service road that provides access to a nursery. A trail sign marks the beginning of the hike. For a few hundred yards, the trail proceeds between the rear of residences and the nursery, but it soon breaks out into the open hills. A short, steep section of winding trail heads up and over a small hill. Here the coastal woodland is thick with plants and trees. Live oak and toyon (with its characteristic red berries) dominate.
Trabuco Canyon, CA - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 3
This trail takes you to the top of Los Pinos Peak, a wild and high point in the Santa Ana Mountains. Fantastic 360-degree views ranging from the Pacific Ocean to the San Bernardino, San Gabriel, and San Jacinto Mountains await on clear winter days. At 4,510 feet, Los Pinos Peak is the fourth-highest summit in the Santa Ana Mountains, yet it is one of the wildest and least visited of the range’s high points. Despite its elevation, Los Pinos lies within easy reach of the more determined hiker, who will be rewarded with one of the best vistas in Southern California. On clear days you can look westward across miles of mountains, foothills, and valleys to the Pacific Ocean. To the east lies Lake Elsinore, with the high peaks of the San Jacinto and San Gabriel Mountains rising in the distance. In spring, wildflowers, green hillsides, and the snowcapped peaks of distant mountains are common sights. Summer can be brutally hot, and winter storms may bring a light covering of snow to Los Pinos.
Lake Elsinore, CA - Hiking,Mountain Biking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 4.4
The Morgan Trail offers a great deal of variety for a short wilderness hike. The trail takes you from open chaparral to the shade of oaks, sycamores, and willows along Morrell Canyon Creek, then back up to views toward Sitton Peak in the west. Along the banks of Morrell Canyon Creek, large boulders and grassy areas shaded by ancient oak trees provide ideal spots for wildlife watching, sitting, daydreaming, or picnicking. Like the Bear Canyon Trail (Hike 21), the Morgan Trail takes you into the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness Area in the southern part of the Santa Ana Mountains. In fact, with a car shuttle between the Morgan and Bear Canyon trailheads, you could make a point-to-point hike of 5.1 miles.
Lake Elsinore, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.5
Peters Canyon Regional Park may be small, but it offers great trails, a scenic lake, and a sense of being in the outdoors without straying too far from civilization. This is an easily accessible family hike, with options for longer treks if you wish. This trail circles the fifty-five-acre Upper Peters Canyon Reservoir, which provides valuable habitat to migrating waterfowl. The rolling terrain takes you from marsh edge to open hillsides looking east over the lake toward the crest of the northern Santa Anas. This area originally was part of the Spanish Rancho Lomas de Santiago.
Orange, CA - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 2.5
This hike circumnavigates most of Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park and takes you on a tour of the best trails. You will climb up and down through this rolling landscape, amid ancient oaks in the low valleys and atop grassy hilltops. Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park is a spare 475 acres of rolling sage-covered hills and oak and sycamore–shaded valleys. It was officially opened in 1994 as Wagon Wheel Wilderness Park and later renamed for a former Orange County supervisor. The park contains a host of pleasant and usually uncrowded trails.
Coto de Caza, CA - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 2.7
This trail takes you to a variety of coastal mountain habitats, including seasonal waterfalls, dense mature-oak woodlands, and open chaparral-covered hillsides. Although best tackled in the cooler months, an early-morning start in summer is bound to be pleasant and will allow you to see birds and animals when they are most active.
Lake Elsinore, CA - Hiking,Mountain Biking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 2.2
This easy, meandering hike follows a series of footpaths along and across the lower Santiago Creek. Santiago Creek is one of the main drainages for the Santa Ana Mountains. A great outing for families, the hike features sycamore and oak trees, picnic areas, and historical ties to early Orange County history.
Orange, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.2
Although the Santiago Trail leads 8.0 miles to Old Camp in the upper reaches of Modjeska (Santiago) Canyon, this hike only proceeds up the first 2.5 miles. From the high turnaround point you will enjoy sweeping views out toward the San Joaquin Hills near Laguna Beach and into the wild upper reaches of Modjeska Canyon.
Silverado, CA - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 5
This hike on the “motorway” (a footpath) takes you from upper Silverado Canyon to a ridgetop view of the Pacific Ocean. Though the incline is never great, it is a steady climb up the canyon wall. The views into Silverado Canyon toward Old Saddleback and westward become grander the higher you climb.
Silverado, CA - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 4.4
This hike descends directly into the heart of Telegraph Canyon and Chino Hills State Park. You then hike up the wide Telegraph Canyon Trail to a nice shaded picnic area. This hike allows you to quickly access a part of Chino Hills that seems far away from civilization. Note: In fall 2008 a devastating fire swept through the entirety of Chino Hills State Park. At this writing, this and all other park trails are closed. The park should reopen in 2009 and over time the devastation be healed by Mother Nature. Chino Hills State Park is a huge, natural open-space area in the hills north of Santa Ana Canyon. The area serves as a critical link in a biological corridor that connects the Santa Ana Mountains with the Whittier Hills. Its rolling, grassy hills and sycamore and oak–filled canyons are vast and unspoiled.
Yorba Linda, CA - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 4.8
Unlike Holy Jim Canyon, there is no waterfall on the Trabuco Trail to attract the crowds. But the area is more open and affords better views into the surrounding mountain terrain. The spring wildflower displays along Trabuco Creek are some of the finest in the entire Santa Ana range. Most of the trail is exposed to direct sun, so pick a cooler day for this hike. Although the drive up the dirt Trabuco Creek Road to the trailhead can be bumpy—and is not advisable during a heavy runoff—the hiking in Holy Jim Canyon and the less-traveled Trabuco Canyon exhibits a remoteness and primitive character seldom found on such a short hike.
Corona, CA - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 3.6