We have hiked the best Orange County hiking trails to create this list of the best. Whether you’re a casual hiker or avid outdoorsman, there’s something here for everyone. You’ll find everything from an easy walk along the coast to a challenging 16 miler that climbs over 4,000 vertical feet, to wilderness trails and waterfalls.
|Panhe Nature Trail||1||Easy||San Onofre State Beach||N||171|
|Aliso Peak||1.6||Easy||Aliso Woods Canyon||Y||533|
|Doheny Beach||3||Easy||Doheny State Beach||N||20|
|Crystal Cove Green Route||3||Easy||Crystal Cove State Park||N||505|
|Small Peak||3||Moderate||Robinson Ranch||Y||1142|
|Ridgeline Loop to Barbara's Lake||3.12||Moderate||Laguna Canyon Wilderness||N||679|
|Las Ramblas Trail||3.4||Moderate||San Clemente||Y||900|
|Tour de Trestles||3.7||Easy||San Onofre State Beach||N||171|
|Cristianitos Fault Loop||3.8||Moderate||San Onofre State Beach||N||300|
|Huntington Beach Walk||4.1||Easy||Huntington State Beach||Y||10|
|Shoestring Loop in Limestone Canyon||4.5||Moderate||Limestone Canyon Wilderness Park||N||1029|
|Ridgeline Trail||4.5||Moderate||San Clemente||Y||1545|
|Roller Coaster Ridge Trail||4.5||Moderate||San Clemente||Y||1150|
|San Clemente Beach Trail||4.5||Easy||San Clemente||Y||50|
|Los Pinos via Blue Jay||5.3||Moderate||Ortega Highway||Y||1350|
|Crystal Cove Red Route||5.5||Moderate||Crystal Cove State Park||N||820|
|Peter's Canyon Loop||6.5||Moderate||Peters Canyon Regional Park||Y||681|
|Colinas Bluff Trail||6.7||Moderate||Laguna Niguel||Y||1570|
|Salt Creek Trail||6.8||Moderate||Laguna Niguel||Y||500|
|Boat Canyon Lollipop Loop||8.2||Strenuous||Laguna Beach||N||2769|
|Morgan Trail||9.6||Moderate||Ortega Highway||Y||1804|
|Sitton Peak Trail||10||Moderate||Ortega Highway||Y||2150|
|Chiquito Falls||8.6||Strenuous||Ortega Highway||Y||1409|
|Crystal Cove Blue Route||9.1||Strenuous||Crystal Cove State Park||N||1800|
|Whiting Ranch: Dreaded Hill & Red Rock Canyon||10||Strenuous||Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park||N||2152|
|Christianitos to Prima Dechecha Loop||10.6||Strenuous||San Clemente||Y||2500|
|Holy Jim Trail to Santiago Peak||16||Strenuous||Trabuco Canyon||Y||4469|
|Black Star Canyon to Beek's Place||18||Strenuous||Santiago Canyon||Y||2750|
Got a favorite OC hiking trail you’d like to see added? Leave a comment below.
Alex G says
Trabuco Canyon Loop is one of my favorite hikes. (done clockwise)
There are some great hiking, both short and long distance accesible via Caspers’ Park. The same is True for Riley Park, and O’neil Park.
Also, there is a beautiful Ridgeline trail on the east side of Chiquita Canyon (end of the 241) that connects Oso Pkwy (right by Solana rd) with the North Gate of Coto De Caza. It is possible to cross CDC drive and continue all the way to the Dove Canyon Gate, and around through the neighborhood called Rancho Cielo.
Candice L says
I would just like to say, Thank you for creating this page! I am not a SoCal native but I’ve been living here for a year now and I’ve been wanting to do some explorations around the area and your page is making my search easier, especially because I have two dogs that I bring along with me and the people on Yelp do not give expert advice. I’m really excited to check out these new destinations. Keep trailing on!
John Birk says
Jeff, I suggest the northern section of the Bell View Trail, starting on the north side of Robinson Ranch Road, and continuing up Bell Ridge to “Small Peak” (where there is a flag pole). It’s approximately 3.5 miles round trip, 1200′ vertical, and great views of south OC from the top. Ninety minutes to two hours round trip, depending on pace. For a much longer, all-day hike, one can continue up Bell Ridge (aka “Buffalo Ridge”) all the way to Main Divide Road, junctioning just north of Los Pinos Peak. An alternate return route is to hike down Bell Ridge to a trail leading down to Yeager Mesa (http://www.singletracks.com/bike-trails/yeager-mesa.html) and then down a steep trail to join the lower portion of the Trabuco Creek trail in Trabuco Canyon.
Derek Slabosz says
I’ve done about 4 hikes on your blog on SoCal Hiker so far. Yesterday my fiance and I did the Roller Coaster Ridge Trail, it was our favorite yet. I have to say that I really enjoy this resource, it provides the perfect information that a hiker needs to be prepared.
I would like to also let you know that you inspired me to start my own similar website: http://www.surfsoutherncalifornia.com
The website is just in it’s infancy, but I plan to create a detailed guide of every surf spot in Southern California. Just wanted to thank you for helping me figure out my passion.
Nancy Orro says
Do you have a similar guide for LA county?
SoCal Hiker says
You bet! You’ll find it in the navigation menu at the top of every page on the site, under Finding a Trail. We have a Los Angeles County guide, as well as All Areas, which includes hikes in northern California, Oregon, Utah and even one in Texas!
Thanks for the hiking spots! However I wish you would have added some north Orange County spots. I enjoy hiking but don’t want to drive an hour to get started. Maybe next column could focus on NOC?
Agree!! I found a good one in Anaheim off the 57N and Lincoln. Anaheim Coves.
Gordon Alexander says
West Horsetheif Trail to Trabuco Peak is a great hike. I have a route for it an everything.
San Mateo Peak (off the Morgan trailhead)
Blue Jay Lover says
Thanks for posting the list. I just turned 10 years old and I’m a fairly new hiker and I love hiking and hills. So far my favorites are Santiago Oaks, Irvine, and Peters Canyon.
Terri Armstrong says
Thank you so much for creating this awesome list!! I’m in training for a 4-day series of hikes in Sedona, so I plan to use this list as a check-off to build up my stamina.
Hi, new to the OC area and plan to be here about a year. I really enjoy hiking and want it to be a bit of a challenge and would prefer great scenery. I would like around 5 miles but have done up to 17 in a day. What are your top 10 all time favorites that you like to go on, return to, take your friends and family on when they visit?
Do you have any recommendations for weekend trips too? Joshua tree hikes or a bit further out than just a day trip?
Thank you so much. Can use all the help to narrow down my extensive to do list while working as a travel nurse.
Regards and happy trails
Love your web. Thanks
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