When you think of hiking you probably imagine dirt paths with rocky trails that span the mountain passes and lush forests, bookmarked with a car ride that can take hours. But what do you picture when you imagine yourself hiking in the city? Hopefully, it’s not streets, the sound of cars and concrete slabbed walking paths. The opportunity for wilderness immersion is bountiful thanks to Irvine Company, offering nearly 40,000 acres of open space that’s available to us on the historic Irvine Ranch. From the coast to the mountains, a number of trails are offered up for exploring. Grab your gear and get outside!
Mountains to Sea Trail
This 22-mile trail starts in the oak-filled Weir Canyon Nature Preserve and takes you all the way to Upper Newport Bay. Depending on your fitness level, you can take this trail in sections at a time, or if you’re up to the challenge, you can tackle the whole thing in one day with a good pair of hiking shoes. As you pass through portions of five towns and cities you can witness the vast array of scenery this trail has to offer.
El Moro Canyon Loop Trail
Imagine traversing a trail while horseback riding, timing it perfectly to reach the waterfall at sunset. Can you believe this is available right in the city?! Located 3 miles south of Corona del Mar, El Moro Canyon Loop Trail is a 4-mile hike that includes a waterfall (weather permitting). Start your adventure at the El Moro Canyon/Crystal Cove parking lot near the Park Headquarters. Leave your doggies at home for this one, as dogs are only allowed on the paved trails, with that said, this trail is equestrian friendly!
Crystal Cove Loop Trail
Just south of Corona del Mar, Crystal Cove Loop Trail is 9.5 miles long and is considered a moderate hike. Crystal Cove is a beautiful place to enjoy with friends and family and is highly recommended for out-of-towners. Start at the top of the cliff and work your way down to be amazed by the breathtaking views of the beach. From there you can navigate the tide pools and discover the different marine life living so close to shore. This is a great place to bring the little ones, as they will be entertained with exploring for hours. Parking will run you 15 dollars.
East Upper Newport Bay Trail
This 4.9-mile trail is considered easy and is appropriate for all different fitness levels. If you enjoy birdwatching your are in for a real treat. Great Blue Herons, among other waterfowl, can be seen stalking the mudflats to the west. This is considered a multi-use trail so share the road with hikers, bikers, doggies and slow-moving autos. To get here: turn right on Back Bay and find a place to park near the multi-use trail entrance.
Buck Gully Trail
Located in Newport Beach, this hidden gem tucked inside the canyon offers a nice 4.5-mile workout without being too challenging. This trail offers beautiful views of the river and is passable thanks to the partnership between Newport Beach and Irvine Ranch Conservancy. In 2012 metal bridges were installed by helicopter, allowing us to take full advantage of this scenic area. Access the trail by Poppy Avenue.
Bommer Pass Trail
Amongst ancient oak and sycamore groves, Bommer Canyon offers outdoor enthusiasts nature’s wonders as an important preservation area. The Bommer Pass Trail recently underwent a restoration and trail repair project to repair trailside damage and trail erosion. Because of this, beautiful cacti and native plants were planted in the trailside habitat areas. Plan a hike with the family and admire all of the updates this trail has received. To get here: take Shady Canyon Drive.
Orchard Hills Trails
Traverse this 3 mile, multi-use trail along the edge of a working avocado orchard. If you’d like to enjoy the views on a less strenuous adventure, you can opt for the gentle, sloping 1.2-mile loop as well. The views on these trails are unbelievable, on a clear day, you can see from Camp Pendleton all the way to the Hollywood sign (with binoculars). Be mindful that Orchard Hills is only available with guided access, so plan ahead. Visit letsgooutside.org for a list of activities and programs.