Borrego Canyon Trail

Lake Forest, California 92630

Elevation Gain357ft
Trailhead Elevation811ft
Elevation Min/Max799/1056ft
Elevation Start/End811/811ft

Borrego Canyon Trail

Borrego Canyon Trail is a hiking, biking, and horse trail in Lake Forest, California. It is 2.5 miles long and begins at 811 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is three miles with a total elevation gain of 357 feet. Whiting Ranch Parking and another parking are near the trailhead. There are also drinking water and restrooms. This trail connects with the following: Mustard Road.

Borrego Canyon Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Best Easy Day Hikes: Orange County (Falcon Guides)
Randy Vogel
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"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."
"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."
"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."
Afoot & Afield: Orange County (Wilderness Press)
Jerry Schad and David Money Harris
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"Like most trails in the Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, the Borrego Trail is open to mountain biking and horseback riding, as well as hiking. Mountain bikers, however, are not allowed to ride all the way to Red Rock. At the beginning, you immediately plunge into densely shaded Borrego Canyon, alongside a stream that happily trickles through the winter and spring. Often in the late fall and winter, frigid air sinks into these shady recesses overnight, and by early morning, frost mantels everything below eye-level."

Borrego Canyon Trail Trip Reports

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This hike surprised me. I was expecting to see a ghost forest after the devastating fires that raged through this area in 2007. However, what I found was a wilderness area coming back and still as interesting and rewarding the day before the fires.

As described in the trail guide, you begin the hike in the shade of a wonderful canopy of oaks and sycamores. That eventually gives way to coastal scrub mixed in with creek bed flora. Watch carefully for the signs leading to the red rock trail. It parrallels the Borrego trail for a distance before it climbs up into the red sandstone canyon. The canyon walls are a delight to behold and are truly the payoff for this sweet hike.
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The trail was beautiful,but we found out the hard way that none of the trails in Orange County allow dogs. Another downside was that for about the first 1/2 mile, houses are visible up on the sides of the canyon.Nevertheless, it is a great trail for mountain biking and hiking.

Borrego Canyon Trail Photos

Trail Information

Lake Forest
Nearby City
U.S.G.S. El Toro Limestone-Whiting Wilderness Park map
Local Maps

Trail Log