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 Distance (?)5.2 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.

Lone Peak 5

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 ShoeREI | Amazon
Latest Price on Men’s ShoeREI | Amazon

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.


Gaia GPS Mapping App
Smartphones are not backcountry instruments, but almost everyone has one today. And they all have GPS onboard. So I recommend getting a good GPS hiking app like Gaia GPS that supports offline maps. Just make sure to put your phone in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. GaiaGPS not only has smartphone and tablet apps, but also an online planning tool. You can drag the GPX hike tracks from my (or any) guides into the online map and they will sync to your phone. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get up a big discount here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.

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

My September 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 keep the website ad and promotion free. 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

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.

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). The GPS smartwatch is nice because it’s rugged, works if your phone dies, and also has a billion other features like sleep tracking, workout recording, etc.

Buck Gully Trail Directions 1
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.

This guide last updated on March 26, 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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