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Buck Gully Trail Guide

Buck Gully Trail Guide

In This Guide
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions for the Buck Gully Trail
  • How to Get to the Buck Gully Trail
  • Insider Tips & Alternate Distances
Total Distance5.2 miles (8.4 km)
Other Options 4 miles to end of singletrack
Hike Time2 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Easy
Total Ascent (?)460 feet (140m)
Highest Elevation600 feet (183m)
Fees & PermitsFree
Dogs AllowedNo
Alerts & Closures (?)Buck Gully Reserve
Park Phone949-644-3151

The Buck Gully Trail is a peaceful and fun hike through a coastal watershed located in Newport Beach’s foothills. What makes the hike remarkable is that the 1,200 acres of Buck Gully Reserve are tucked in between all the development around Newport Beach. So even though this hike is close to civilization, you feel like you are a world away as you hike your way up the canyon. It’s an easy hike, great for all levels and families. And while the trail itself doesn’t offer ocean views, I’ll show you an optional loop that offers vistas to Palos Verdes and Long Beach.

Where to Park for the Buck Gully Trail

While there are two ends of the Buck Gully Trail, the traditional starting point is in Corona del Mar, which is the only trailhead that offers parking. Use this trailhead address:
872 Poppy Ave, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

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There’s street parking around the trailhead. This is a residential neighborhood, so please be respectful.
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Be mindful of no-parking areas and red curbs.

There are no bathrooms at the trailhead or on the trail, but the City of Newport Beach says that you can use the restrooms at the nearby Oasis Senior Center.

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Gear for the Hike

You don’t need any special gear to do this hike. Light hiking gear or fitness clothes work great. After rain, the trail can get muddy, so ideally you’ll wear hiking footwear.

Wildcat Small

My Goto Hiking Footwear: La Sportiva Wildcat
If you hike a lot or just want the best (but not the most durable) hiking footwear, the Wildcat trail runner is your best move.  It’s fast and light on trails, the sole gives me good grip off-trail or scrambling, and they dry quickly.
Latest Price on Women’s ShoeREI | Amazon
Latest Price on Men’s ShoeREI | Amazon

Rei Flash 22 Yellow

Best Budget Day Pack: REI Co-op Flash 22 Pack
Bang for the buck, you can’t go wrong with this pack. It’s super-lightweight and big enough to carry everything for a day hike, including a water bladder. Every year REI improves this pack and after a few years, it’s really solid in every way. I pack mine in a carry-on when I travel to do hikes on trips. And if you’re into ultralight backpacking, this is also a solid choice.
Latest PricesREI 

Garmin Inreach Mini Beacon

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.

Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated January 2021.

My January 2021 Top Gear Picks

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 offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.

Buck Gully Trail Maps

The trail is easy to follow and well-marked with trail signs at the junctions. You’ll share the trail with mountain bikes, but they are only allowed to go one way, uphill, so they’re never flying by. In the spring the area comes alive with wildflowers.

Click Here To View Map

Download the Hike GPX FileView a Printable PDF Hike Map

Fenix 6 Pro

How are you going to navigate this hike?
To start, you should always have a paper map and compass. And it helps to print this guide out or save it on your phone. I highly recommend a GPS as well. I use the Garmin Fenix 6 smart GPS watch ( REI | Amazon | My Review) with maps (or the more affordable  Garmin Instinct). You can also use most smartphones. Check out my navigation recommendations and resources on my top gear picks page for options at all budget levels.

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The trail is one-way for bikers. And the trail is well-worn and easy to follow.

3D Map

Buck Gully Trail Guide 3d Map
The trail winds up along Buck Gully, and never gets really steep. The optional loop back, with ocean views, is the orange line, and follows the sidewalk on San Joaquin Road.

Buck Gully Trail Hike Directions

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Video Directions

Watch This Video In 360/VR Why 360/VR Is Great

Turn By Turn Directions

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The trailhead is easy to spot. Head past the gate and down the paved path.
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The first few minutes are paved and go downhill.
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But soon you’ll see the official start of the Buck Gully Trail with the trail board.
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Right away the trail meanders through trees and brush, and offers nice shade.
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You’ll be following the Buck Gully creek up through the canyon, and you’ll see several side trails along the way that head to the water. Stay on the main trail and continue straight.
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If you look up in the hills you’ll occasionally catch a glimpse of houses, but otherwise you’ll be immersed in nature.
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Soon you’ll reach the first bridge. There are three bridges on this hike, and four bridges in the Buck Gully Reserve. The aluminum bridges were all helicoptered in when the trail was built.
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The trail gets really pretty when it cuts through hedges and groves.
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Some sections are open and exposed, but it’s still scenic as you gradually make your way up the canyon.
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Cross over bridge number two.
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Keep your eyes open on the sides of the trail for matted down grass and brush like this, which is an animal bedding area (guessing mule deer in this case). The Buck Gully Reserve is a wildlife corridor and home to deer, bobcat, and other small mammals like rabbits and squirrels.
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At the junction with the Bobcat Trail, bear to the right. If you do the optional loop at the top, you’ll come back down here on the Bobcat Trail (more later).
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As you make your way up the canyon you’ll notice the uphills a little more as you continue.
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Cross over the last bridge.
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There’s a bench on the other side of the bridge if you need a breather.
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The trail heads uphill for the last stretch.
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And soon you’ll reach the end of the single-track part of the Buck Gully Trail.

If you just want to do 4 miles and avoid the fire road portion, you can turn around here.

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Otherwise continue straight. The trail is a wide fire road now.
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At the junction, make the left toward San Joaquin Road.
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The fire road heads uphill and out of the canyon.
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And soon you’ll reach the end of the Buck Gully Trail on San Joaquin Road.

From here you have a few options.

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Or you can just turn around and hike back the way you hiked up.

Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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