This hike through Peters Canyon Regional Park is one of the most popular hikes in Orange County for good reason. The hike has everything: well-mantained trails, climbs and flats, panoramic views, and wildlife spotting opportunities. This Peters Canyon hike takes you on a very-doable 2:30 hour loop of the park. Lots of side trails offer opportunities to make it shorter if you’d like.
The 340-acre Peters Canyon Regional Park has an interesting history. The lake in the park was once a reservoir that was used to irrigate James Irvine’s orange groves, and now drains out to Upper Newport Bay. In 1899 one of the first golf clubs in Orange County was built here. During World War II there was an Army base here, and after he war the Boy Scouts took it over. In 1992 the area became an Orange County park when the Irvine Company donated the land for public use.
Today Peters Canyon Regional Park is popular with hikers, exercisers, horses, and mountain bikers. Be considerate, keep your eyes open, and share the trail.
If California is in a draught, the Upper Peters Canyon reservoir will likely be dry. Don’t let that stop you, this is still a great hike. If there’s water in the reservoir, expect even more wildlife around. I’ve seen mule deer, coyotes, rattlesnakes, and tons of birds here.
This hike guide starts in the main parking lot (on the north side), which has plenty of room and bathrooms, but also a small fee. There are other areas where you can park on the street and access the park if you want to save the fee.
If you want hiking gear recommendations, check out my full gear list. I only recommend and review gear that I actually use. No company pays me to push their product. Everything on my gear list is battle tested on the trails, and should work well for you too.
There are usually official Peters Canyon hiking trail maps at the trailhead, and you can also print one out here. If you want to do a shorter hike, the map will give you plenty of hiking options, otherwise my guide and maps will do the trick.