Get Outside With the Top Five Trails In Orange County


Photo Courtesy of Brian Plunkett

Junior Dylan Vanek lanches off a rock face on his mountain bike in the Santa Ana Mountains. This time of the year is the best to explore the mountains because of the moderate temperatures and flower bloom.

Jordan Lee and Dylan Vanek

Springtime is always the best time to get outside in Orange County. the flowers are blooming, and the butterflies are fluttering while the air is cool and crisp. This recent rainy season brought some of the most beautiful conditions that can only truly be experienced by getting out onto the vast trail network that surrounds us.

1. Laguna Coast Wilderness
Located off Laguna Canyon Road at the border of Laguna Beach, the Laguna Coast Wilderness is one of the largest trail systems in all of OC with over 40 miles available. It is one of the only wilderness parks in OC to ban dogs in certain areas, so leave your furry friends at home. The Serrano Ridge trail takes you up and down steep ridges and valleys and opens to panoramic ocean views. This is a great option for trail runners and bikers alike, as it provides plenty of beauty and tranquility not far from home.

2. Peters Canyon Regional Park
Located adjacent to Irvine Regional Park, Peters Canyon Regional Park is another spectacular trail system run by the OC Parks. Featuring a wide dirt multi-use trail and side trails leading to various vantages points, Peters Canyon hosts one of the most accessible and beautiful trails in Irvine. For trail runners looking for a challenging hill workout, try Ridge View Trail, but if you are willing to go the extra miles with less elevation gain, continue along the main trail and take Lake View Trail for a great view of the reservoir and entire park.

3. Holy Jim Trail
Only a 25-minute drive from campus is a hidden beauty. Although closed to motorized vehicles, the Holy Jim trail is open to equestrians, hikers and bikers alike. For novice hikers, it is best to hike to Holy Jim Falls. The hike is just an hour-round trip and showcases many beautiful views with the waterfall as the final destination. Advanced hikers may want to hike the rest of the 2,300 vertical feet and 4.8 miles to the top of the Holy Jim trail, which also allows access to Santiago Peak, the highest point in OC.

4. Irvine Regional Park
If you aren’t feeling the long drive into isolated wilderness, you may want to consider Irvine Regional Park, which is about 15 minutes from campus. Parking at this location is five dollars on weekends. The trail system in the park is open to equestrians, hikers and bikers but is most suited towards bikes. Although the space is quite small, the park has managed to build a decent amount of primarily bike trails that are fun for everyone. The proximity to civilization and trail quality makes it one of the best places to ride a mountain bike in Irvine.

5. Back Bay Trail
For a coastal excursion, check out the asphalt path around Back Bay in Newport Beach. Although this loop is entirely paved, it is a fun for both runners and cyclists to enjoy workouts with a cool ocean breeze and spectacular water views. The easy access and 180 degree views of the Newport Nature Preserve make this a must-see for any outdoor enthusiast.

We are lucky to have some of the most beautiful and pristine public trails in California, but it is important to remember to treat them with respect. Stay on designated trails, avoid interfering with the wildlife, carry out your trash and obey all trail rules. With these tips in mind, you are ready for your next outdoor adventure!