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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 Trail1EasySan Onofre State BeachN171
Aliso Peak1.6EasyAliso Woods CanyonY533
Doheny Beach3EasyDoheny State BeachN20
Crystal Cove Green Route3EasyCrystal Cove State ParkN505
Small Peak3ModerateRobinson RanchY1142
Ridgeline Loop to Barbara's Lake3.12ModerateLaguna Canyon WildernessN679
Las Ramblas Trail3.4ModerateSan ClementeY900
Tour de Trestles3.7EasySan Onofre State BeachN171
Cristianitos Fault Loop3.8ModerateSan Onofre State BeachN300
Huntington Beach Walk4.1EasyHuntington State BeachY10
Shoestring Loop in Limestone Canyon4.5ModerateLimestone Canyon Wilderness ParkN1029
Ridgeline Trail4.5ModerateSan ClementeY1545
Roller Coaster Ridge Trail4.5ModerateSan ClementeY1150
San Clemente Beach Trail4.5EasySan ClementeY50
Los Pi–nos via Blue Jay5.3ModerateOrtega HighwayY1350
Crystal Cove Red Route5.5ModerateCrystal Cove State ParkN820
Peter's Canyon Loop6.5ModeratePeters Canyon Regional ParkY681
Colinas Bluff Trail6.7ModerateLaguna NiguelY1570
Salt Creek Trail6.8ModerateLaguna NiguelY500
Boat Canyon Lollipop Loop8.2StrenuousLaguna BeachN2769
Morgan Trail9.6ModerateOrtega HighwayY1804
Sitton Peak Trail10ModerateOrtega HighwayY2150
Chiquito Falls8.6StrenuousOrtega HighwayY1409
Crystal Cove Blue Route9.1StrenuousCrystal Cove State ParkN1800
Whiting Ranch: Dreaded Hill & Red Rock Canyon10StrenuousWhiting Ranch Wilderness ParkN2152
Christianitos to Prima Dechecha Loop10.6StrenuousSan ClementeY2500
Holy Jim Trail to Santiago Peak16StrenuousTrabuco CanyonY4469
Black Star Canyon to Beek's Place18StrenuousSantiago CanyonY2750

Got a favorite OC hiking trail you’d like to see added? Leave a comment below.

15 Responses

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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 ( and then down a steep trail to join the lower portion of the Trabuco Creek trail in Trabuco Canyon.

  4. Hey Jeff,

    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:

    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.

  5. 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?

  6. West Horsetheif Trail to Trabuco Peak is a great hike. I have a route for it an everything.

    Yaeger Mesa

    San Mateo Peak (off the Morgan trailhead)

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

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