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|
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.
Stay Safe Out of Cell Phone Range
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Garmin InReach Mini (REI | Amazon | My Review) fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing.
Altra Lone Peak 5
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 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. Watch my video explaining why they are a great shoe here.
Latest Price on Women’s Shoe – REI | Amazon
Latest Price on Men’s Shoe – 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.
Latest Price – REI | Amazon
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated September 2021.
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?
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 6. 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
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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.
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