Hiking Orange County and Vicinity

The map and table included below contain all the Orange County hikes and those in surrounding areas covered on this site.

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Home to Disneyland, the surf industry, and world famous for its fabulous beaches, hiking in Orange County doesn’t receive as much publicity. But don’t be fooled! Orange County features some amazingly diverse terrain, and although not well-recognized hiking Orange County includes everything from tall peaks with sweeping vistas to trails along ocean front cliffs to rugged and pristine mountain canyons with spectacular waterfalls. Orange County is the third most populated county in California and the smallest in Southern California, which makes the great variety of hikes in Orange County even more surprising.

The largest and wildest areas in Orange County, and thus the best hikes in Orange County, occur in the remarkable Santa Ana Mountains. This surprisingly large, rugged, and diverse mountain range has its own page on this site containing many great hikes in The Santa Ana Mountains. While all the Orange County hikes covered in the Santa Ana Mountains are included on the map and table on this page, the page devoted to that mountain range has additional information specific to those mountains you may find useful.

In addition there is a large area of preserved coastal beach, canyons, and hills of almost 20,000 acres that comprise the South Coast Wilderness Area. This grouping of four different large natural areas offers some wonderful and diverse Orange County hikes that are closer to the populous Orange County coastal communities.  The Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is one of these areas, and this site has its own page featuring hikes in The Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. Those hikes are also included on the map and table of all Orange County hikes below, but again the page includes some additional information on the specific area. Hiking Orange County is an exciting and rewarding activity. Once you have begun to explore some of the dramatic and pristine natural areas here you’ll be amazed at the beauty and diversity of Orange County hiking.

Map of Orange County Hikes and Surrounding Areas

Orange County Hikes and Surrounding Areas

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Orange County Hikes and Surrounding Areas: 33.691210, -117.537231


Table of Orange County and Surrounding Areas Hikes

Hike NameDifficultyTypeLocationLength (RT)TimeElevationSummary
Harding Falls Hike – Orange CountyStrenuousWaterfall/Adventure HikeSanta Anas - Modjeska Canyon Area7.5 miles6 hrs1,500'A hidden Shangra-La of sparkling pools and lush forest, leading to a majestic 60' twin-tier waterfall.
Little Sycamore Canyon Loop HikeModerateTrail/View HikeLaguna Coast Wilderness Park5 miles2 hrs660'Great beginner to intermediate loop trail in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park features a great workout over varied terrain with terrific views in a close and easy to reach yet wild location.
San Juan Loop TrailEasyWaterfall/Trail Hike Santa Anas - Ortega Highway Corridor 2.2 miles1.5 hrs500'Great beginner’s loop trail featuring seasonal waterfalls, nice views down San Juan Creek basin, and old growth oak forest.
Whiting Ranch Red Rock Canyon HikeEasyTrail/View HikeSanta Anas - Whiting Ranch Area4.5 miles2.5 hrs550'Exotic red sandstone formations like Sedona (on a much smaller scale) in the OC with super easy access.
Upper Hot Spring Canyon FallsStrenuousWaterfall/Adventure HikeSanta Anas - Ortega Highway Corridor 7 miles4 hrs700'Boulder hopping/scrambling down an amazingly rugged and pristine canyon to reach several wonderful waterfalls
Laurel Canyon Loop TrailEasyTrail/View HikeLaguna Coast Wilderness Park3.5 miles2 hrs500'Nice loop hike with quick and easy access offers varied terrain including great views, scenic sandstone formations, and lovely coastal canyons - but these attributes make it very popular at times as well.
Holy Jim FallsEasyWaterfall/Trail HikeSanta Anas - Trabuco Creek Area3 miles1.5 hrs700'Easy hike to lovely 18' waterfall in a beautiful mountain canyon, but a rough road to the trail head.
Coal Canyon Mini Moab HikeModerately StrenuousTrail/View HikeSanta Anas - 91 Freeway Area11 miles5 hrs1,800'Hike up a well maintained yet shadeless trail to unique sandstone outcrops offering awesome canyon and city views.
Weir Canyon Trail – Orange CountyEasyTrail/View HikeSanta Anas - 91 Freeway Area3.5 miles1.5 hrs350'Easy, uncrowded, and surprisingly scenic loop in an unspoiled canyon close to civilization.
Ortega Falls via San Juan Loop TrailStrenuousWaterfall/Adventure HikeSanta Anas - Ortega Highway Corridor 5 miles3 hrs750'Great easily accessed adventure hike uses San Juan Loop Trail to drop into San Juan Creek then up the stream bed to 35' Ortega Falls.
Black Star Canyon Falls HikeModerately StrenuousWaterfall/Adventure HikeSanta Anas - Silverado Canyon Area6.5 miles5 hrs900'Hike to a wonderful 65' tall waterfall in a beautiful wooded canyon. Easy fire road for first 2.5 miles or so, but then off trail boulder hopping up the stream bed .8 mile to reach Black Star Canyon Falls.



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