Best Trails for Hiking in Anaheim
Are you looking for the best hiking in Anaheim and Orange County? You’ve come to the right place. Known for its long, sunshine-filled days and 42 miles of scenic coastlines, Orange County has plenty of heavenly beaches and residents who live adventurous lifestyles.
But the best part about hiking around Orange County is how close and accessible trails are to the cities, including Anaheim. You’ll love how easily you’ll be making your way through the bustling streets before you’re suddenly transported to the peace and tranquility of nature.
If you’re looking for gorgeous ocean views, stunning waterfalls, and encounters with local wildlife, check out some of the best places for hiking near Anaheim:
The Best Hiking Trails in or Near Anaheim
You don’t have to venture far from the city to find some of the best hiking trails in the state. Below are just a few places that are just past your doorstep!
1. El Moro Canyon Loop Trail
Distance: 5 miles
Elevation: 807 ft
Location: Crystal Cove State Park
Features: Mountain bikes and horses allowed
Located at the beautiful Crystal Cove State Park on the Newport Coast, the El Moro Canyon Loop Trail starts from and leads back to the El Moro Visitor Center. While pets aren’t allowed on this trail because it gets very busy, mountain bikes and horses are welcome.
Visitors will be able to choose from many parking spaces by the entrance of the Crystal Cove State Park, but there is a $15 fee for a day pass if you don’t have a California State Park Pass.
Be sure to follow these suggestions to get the most out of your hiking trip:
- If you’d like to enjoy an easier hike where you can focus on the ocean views, travel clockwise on the trail.
- For a stronger leg workout, travel counterclockwise on the trail.
2. Top of the World Hike
Distance: 2.4 miles
Elevation: 862 ft
Location: Laguna Beach inside Aliso and Wood Canyon Wilderness Park
Features: Dog-friendly, wildflowers, and ocean views
Known as the “Top of the World,” this stunning lookout point can be found at the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park within Laguna Beach. Here, you can bask in the glory of 360-degree views of Saddleback Valley and the Pacific Ocean.
Accessible through the Canyon Acres Trail, this steep trail will give you a great workout with very few flat areas to walk on, so make sure that you’re ready for a challenge. Luckily, once you reach the top of the trail, you’ll find plenty of restrooms and benches where you can relax and enjoy the best views that Orange County has to offer.
3. Back Bay Loop Trail
Distance: 10.5 miles
Elevation: 236 ft
Location: Newport Beach
Features: Dog-friendly, wildflowers, and bird-watching
If you’re looking for a trail that has a good mix of dirt and paved paths, this trail is a great choice. While bikes aren’t allowed on the paths, you can take your fur babies on adventures with you, provided that they’re on leashes.
Since there are so many free parking spots available, you don’t have to shell out much to enjoy your hike here. Be sure to have a pair of binoculars handy — you’ll find all kinds of birds as you walk along the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve.
4. Borrego Canyon Trail
Distance: 4.1 miles
Elevation: 452 ft
Location: Foothill Ranch
Features: Wildflowers, horses allowed, and bird-watching
Located within the Foothill Ranch, the Borrego Canyon trail is an easy hike where the whole family can enjoy new scenery. The Red Rock Canyon lies halfway through the trail; the kids will be amazed by the glowing red rocks and the other-worldly atmosphere.
The 4.1-mile hike starts at the Borrego Staging Area, but before you begin your adventure, be sure to check the Orange County Park’s website first to see if there are any closures. There are also plenty of parking spaces available, but be sure to bring some cash with you just in case.
5. San Clemente Beach Trail
Distance: 4.5 miles
Elevation: 55 ft
Cost: $5 – $20
Location: San Clemente, California
Features: Dog-friendly, ocean-side hike, pier
Beach lovers, unite! This amazing hiking trail is the place to be if you’re looking to hike while strolling beside the Pacific Ocean.
Some of the best features of this trail are the train tracks, which lay flat on the ground — the perfect place for you and your pups! Other highlights of the San Clemente Beach Trail include the San Clemente Pier, which is right at the center of this beach trail.
There’s a lot of parking around the area, but it will set you back a few bucks, from $5 per hour to $20 for the whole day.
6. Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve Hike
Distance: 3 miles
Elevation: 78 ft
Location: Sunset Beach and Huntington Beach
Features: Bird-watching, ocean views, and marshlands
With over 200 species of birds, vibrant flowers, and wetlands to see, a hike through the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve is sure to be full of fun and wonder. It’s known as one of the most-loved hiking areas for families around Orange County.
Because of the wide range of birds that gather here, it’s very popular with bird watchers while also providing plenty of space to get your steps in. There’s also plenty of parking, and if you need a route for wheelchair access, you can find it at the parking lot by the Pacific Coast Highway.
7. Peters Canyon Loop Trail
Distance: 5.9 miles
Elevation: 623 ft
Location: City of Orange
Features: Dog and horse-friendly, wildflowers, and lakes
For a more serious hike through the Peters Canyon Regional Park, head over to this trail where you’ll find great bodies of water and a lot of ups and downs to get your heart pumping. Before getting started, make sure that you’re wearing a good pair of hiking shoes with a reliable tread.
Some downhill areas may become very slippery, so it’s also a good idea to take hiking sticks with you. However, if you want to mix things up or just take an easier route, you can skip the ridge line completely and instead hike the canyon trail.
8. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Trails
Distance: 6.2 miles
Elevation: 1,033 ft
Location: City of Orange
Features: Wildlife and restrooms
Offering a massive 7,000 acres of space filled with trails to explore, the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is home to some of Laguna Beach’s most picturesque scenery.
This park also has tons of amazing hikes to provide hikers of every skill level. These trails have plenty of different kinds of hills and terrains to challenge your muscles and endurance, so be sure to bring your A-game. Unfortunately, the parking lot is only open from 8 am – 5 pm; unless you come early in the day, you may need to find a different parking lot.
9. Willow Trail Loop
Distance: 3.3 miles
Elevation: 603 ft
Location: Aliso Viejo
Features: Wildlife, camping, ocean views, bird-watching, and waterfall
Located inside the Laurel Canyon, this beautiful, multi-use trail provides hikers and bikers with a lot of declines and inclines, making it ideal for those looking for a good workout. Because of its popularity as a biking trail, you need to be mindful of your surroundings and stay clear of speedy bikers.
Because the loop trail can get busy, you may wish to opt for the Laurel Trail area, where bikes aren’t allowed. You may have to wait in line to pay for parking on Saturdays, but on the bright side, you may spot a gorgeous waterfall in the right conditions.
10. Bridge to Nowhere Hike
Distance: 9.5 miles
Elevation: 1246 ft
Location: Los Angeles National Forest
Features: Dog-friendly, historic site, and waterfall
If you’re in the area and you’re looking to break a sweat, make your way to the Los Angeles National Forest, home to the Bridge to Nowhere Hike. Even though it’s usually crowded, it’s worth the visit, as it takes you through the beautiful San Gabriel River.
This means that it’s also the perfect destination for families looking to cool off in the water after hiking. However, because most of this trail is situated along bushy areas, it may be beneficial to wear long pants to keep your legs safe in the meantime.
Guide to Hiking in Anaheim
If you want to start your hiking journey with some of the best hiking near Anaheim, ensure that you come prepared. Here are a few tips on how to make the most out of your trip:
- Hike during sunset: When in Orange County, not many things in the world can top a sunset hike right next to the ocean. However, if you do go on a late afternoon stroll, be sure to park your car nearby so you can locate it quickly once the sun sets. Alternatively, you can bring a flashlight or a headlamp.
- Look out for wildlife: You’ll be venturing out into nature, so you can expect to meet animals on their own turf. You should come prepared to encounter various kinds of animals, such as mountain lions, rattlesnakes, coyotes, birds, and more. While most people don’t have any issues, here are a few tips to help you stay safe:
- While some trails have waterfalls, don’t expect to see something that’s cascading and picturesque. Because Orange County is a dry area, it would need to rain heavily to provide flowing water. During dry months, the falls may not be as healthy.
Don’t go out to hike after dark
Always pay attention to your surroundings
Follow the marked trails, which lead you away from grassy areas where ticks may live. Check your dog for ticks once you’re finished with the hike.
Sometimes, rattlesnakes bask in the sun in the center of the trail. If you see one doing this, stay far away. You should either find a different route or wait for them to move elsewhere.
If you run into a mountain lion or coyote, never run away or turn your back on them; instead, slowly back away from them.
What to Bring for Your Hike
Whether you’re new to hiking around Anaheim or you’re a veteran, a supply checklist is always handy. Make sure you have the following before you hit the trails:
- Breathable clothes that give you room to move
- A hat and sunglasses to shield you from the sun
- A device with GPS and a hiking app that can be used without internet
- Waterproof shoes for hiking in slippery areas
- Hiking sticks for hiking in particularly steep areas or for hikers that need additional knee support
- A first aid kit
- Plenty of water and high-energy snacks
- Insect repellant
- A physical copy of the trail map OR a digital copy downloaded onto your smart device, in case you lose cell service
- A durable phone case to keep your phone protected
- Binoculars if you plan to do some birdwatching
- Water and food for your pet, if applicable
- Waste bags for cleaning up after your pet, if applicable
Start Hiking Near Anaheim
No matter where you choose to hike or the kind of scenery you want to see during your stroll, there’s a perfect oasis for you to visit near Anaheim. Apart from the bustling beaches, Orange County has tons of scenic trails for you to choose from, each offering a unique environment to explore.
The best part about hiking trails near Anaheim is that they will let you experience the best coastlines along the state, but each from a different perspective that’s sure to amaze you.
So what are you waiting for? Start your hiking adventure across Orange County by visiting these great trails near Anaheim today.