Bommer Canyon Trail Hike Guide
|In This Guide|
|Total Distance (?)||4.8 miles (7.7 km)|
|Other Options||2 miles easy and flat|
|Hike Time||2 (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||900 feet (274m)|
|Highest Elevation||1,010 feet (308m)|
|Fees & Permits||Free|
|Alerts & Closures (?)||Bommer Canyon|
|Weather & Forecast||Latest Conditions|
|Stay Safe||Copy this webpage link to the clipobard and share with a friend before you hike. Let them know when to expect you back.|
The Bommer Canyon Trail, a natural oasis nestled within suburbia, offers a little bit of everything. This easy hike showcases natural beauty, has lots of wildlife spotting opportunities, an interesting history, and sweeping vistas as you approach the highest point in the San Joaquin Hills. The full 4.8 mile hike includes some uphill, but if you want to do something easy, I’ll show you an easy 2 mile option that’s flat and great for families. Bommer Canyon is a National Natural Landmark and California’s first Natural Landmark; it’s worth visiting.
Where is the Bommer Canyon Trail?
The main trailhead is in Irvine, CA. Use this address:
6400 Shady Canyon Trail, Irvine, CA 92603
Gear For the Hike
This is an easy trail where you can get away with fitness clothes or light hiking gear. Good trail shoes will help on the dirt, and trekking poles can help on the steeper climb at the end. Bring 1L of water. It can get hot in the summer; there isn’t any shade.
Garmin InReach Mini 2
I’m a firm believer in carrying a satellite communications device which works where cell phones don’t. I use a Garmin InReach which lets me send text messages back and forth to my family to let them know that I’m okay or if my plans change when I’m out in the backcountry. It also has an SOS subscription built-in so that you can reach first-responders in an emergency. The devices also offer weather reports, GPS, and navigation functionality (what’s the difference between a GPS and satellite communicator?). For a few hundred bucks they could save your life, so for me it’s a no brainer to have something like a Garmin InReach. If you use a smartphone to navigate and want a more affordable option that integrates with your phone easily, check out the ZOLEO.
Latest Prices: Amazon | REI
Altra Lone Peak 6
For most people, the Altra Lone Peak is a solid choice that will leave your feet feeling great at the end of any hike. The feel is cushy and light, and if it had a car equivalent, this would be a Cadillac or Mercedes Sedan. The grip is great and they’re reasonably durable for this type of trail runner, which I think is better in most conditions than a hiking boot, and here’s why. The downside of this shoe is that it won’t last as long as something like the Terraventure 3 or Moab 2 (see alternate footwear choices at the bottom of my gear page). I’ve been using mine for many miles and my feet always feel great. I have a video on the details of the Altra Lone Peak 6 here.
Women’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon
Men’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon
Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
I’ve gone back and forth on trekking poles, but I think for most people they are a good investment. They help you dig in on the uphills, provide stability on loose downhills, act as a brace when crossing streams, and can probably poke away aggressive wildlife in a pinch. The Trail Ergo Cork poles are a good balance of light weight, durability, affordability, and ease of use. If you want something ultralight and a little more pricey, I’ve had great luck with the Black Diamond Z Poles too.
Trail Ergo Poles: REI | Amazon
Z-Poles: REI | Amazon
Gregory Zulu 30 & Jade 28
After testing quite a few backpacks, the Gregory Zulu 30 (and Jade 28 for women) is, for most hikers, the best all-season day-pack. First off, it’s very comfortable, and the mesh “trampoline” back keeps your back dry. Its 30L capacity is enough for all the essentials and plenty of layers for winter hiking. External pockets make it easy to grab gear. It’s hard to find something wrong with the pack; if anything, it could be a bit lighter, but overall, it’s not heavy. And its price-point makes it not only affordable but generally a great value.
Women’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon
Men’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated June 2022.
No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps keep the website ad and promotion free. There is no cost to you.
Bommer Canyon Trail Maps
Overall the trails are well-marked and well-maintained. Please stay on the trails and respect the signage.
Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File
If you try to download the GPX file and your browser adds a “.txt” or “.xml” extension to it, simply rename it as a “.gpx” file.
How Are You Going to Navigate This Hike?
Here’s what I use. If you are a hardcore hiker and/or hike in extreme conditions, I recommend getting a dedicated GPS like a GPSMAP 66sr or 66i, or a wrist-based GPS with maps like the Garmin Fenix 7 or Epix. If you only hike in fair weather and a touchscreen is fine, or just want a solid tool, I highly recommend downloading the smartphone app, Gaia GPS. It’s a piece of cake to use and very powerful, just make sure your phone is in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get a big discount here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.
- You’ll be hiking through the San Joaquin Hills, which were once underwater, but have now been pushed up from tectonic action. When the 73 Toll Road was built (which you see at the end of the hike), they actually unearthed 5 million year old fossilized whales.
- Bommer Canyon was part of a Mexican land grant. When the Americans took over, the Irvine family eventually acquired it.
- Bommer Canyon became the center of the Irvine cattle ranching operations, called “Bommer Canyon Cattle Camp.” Every spring all the cattle that roamed over what is now the greater Irvine area were gathered here in a roundup. The cattle camp remained in operation for almost 100 years (1870s-1970) until the Irvine family realized that there’s more money in real estate than cows.
- The entire Irvine Ranch area became a National Natural Landmark in 2006, and then the first California National Landmark in 2008, when Arnold Schwarzenegger hiked here as part of the designation ceremony. The Natural Landmarks Program “recognizes the conservation of sites that contain outstanding biological and geological resources.”
XX Hike Directions
It’s easy to say thank you for these free hiking guides!
I depend on your support to keep this website going and free of annoying ads, promoted posts, and sponsorships. Every contribution, big or small, is my lifeline to keep this website going. Thank you!
Watch This Video In 360/VR Why 360/VR Is Great
Turn by Turn Directions
If you are doing the shorter 2 mile hike, simply go back the way you came from here.
From here you just return the same way you came up. If you need water or a bathroom, just visit the park across the street. This trailhead is popular spot for local to access Crystal Cove State Park, as there’s no entry fees or PCH traffic.
This guide last updated on March 23, 2021. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.