Posted on 23 Apr
Orange County may be synonymous with beautiful beaches, but it’s also home to some spectacular wildlife trails, from rolling canyons and grassland hills to vibrant wetlands. With the spring season upon us, here are some of The Agency’s favorite hiking trails—many offering rewarding vistas once you reach the top.
WHITING RANCH WILDERNESS PARK - With close to 2,500 acres of rolling grassland hills and woodland canyons, there’s no shortage of adventures to be had in this local wilderness park. Once you hike in, the stunning oak forests, red rock canyons and breathtaking vistas over the OC will have you forgetting you’re just moments from the city. Hikers and bikers can take advantage of 23 diverse trails, totaling about 17 miles. Rains bring running water to three intermittent streams, Borrego, Serrano and Aliso Creek, each playing host to a diverse wildlife population. But watch your step—spring is snake season!
ALTA LAGUNA PARK - Fondly referred to as “Top of the World” by locals, this small park in the Laguna Hills offers some of the best views in the area. Meandering walking trails lead to breathtaking vistas over the Great Park, Irvine, Laguna Beach and the ocean. An added bonus? The park is open late, so you can stay past sunset and catch a glimpse of the city lights.
BOLSA CHICA ECOLOGICAL RESERVE - A favorite among birders and nature photographers, this 1,300-acre coastal estuary in Huntington Beach is home to more than 200 bird species. A relaxed, 3-mile hike will take you through wildlife-filled wetlands, while a four-mile network of hiking trails provides breathtaking scenic overlooks for hikers of all stripes.
CASPERS WILDERNESS PARK - Situated among the river terraces and sandstone canyons of the western coastal Santa Ana Mountains in San Juan Capistrano, this 8,000-acre wilderness preserve is a wonderland of live oaks, California sycamores and seasonal (read: spring) wildflower displays. Nature lovers of all ages are invited to take part in Ranger-guided walks and “Critter Talks” to learn more about the diverse wildlife population, while stargazers are encouraged to reserve a campsite and spend the weekend.
TURTLE ROCK TRAIL - One of the OC’s best kept secrets, this hidden gem, easily accessible from Irvine, is the perfect hike for those who like big rewards without all the huffing and puffing. Okay, there’s still a little huffing and puffing necessary, but you’ll forget all about it once you reach the top, with ocean views stretching to the west and mountain views to the north. If you’re looking for a romantic midweek pick-me-up, pack an al fresco supper and stay past sunset to watch the city skyline come to life.