Whiting Ranch Hiking: Red Rock Canyon
|In This Guide|
|Distance||4.2 miles (6.8 km)|
|Time||1:45 Hours (Total Time)|
|Total Climbing||420 feet (128m)|
|Park Name||Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park|
There’s a few Whiting Ranch hiking options, but Red Rock Canyon is the most popular for a good reason. The gently climbing trail makes it way up a oak woodland canyon, eventually ending in a smooth red rock canyon like you’d see in Arizona (but unique to Orange County). Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is rich with wildlife. I often see squirrels and lizards, and less often deer. The hike is mellow, easy, and is great for families.
Unfortunately, Whiting Ranch has been the location of mountain lion attacks in recent California history, mainly because of the abundance of mule deer, and you’ll see lots of warning signs at the trailhead. I realize it’s scary but your chances of being attacked are incredibly miniscule. For peace of mind, I bring bear spray, which also works on mountain lions (and humans). Please don’t let a fear of mountain lions stop you from doing the Red Rocks Canyon hike.
Sunset is a great time to do this hike. When the sun is low, it hits the exposed sandstone red rocks and fills them with even more color.If you don’t hike it at sunset, come here as early as you can. This hike is popular and gets crowded.
Where is Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park?
Use this address for the Red Rock Canyon hike trailhead: 26701 Portola Pkwy, Foothill Ranch, CA 92610.
To park, pay at the kiosk in the lot and leave the receipt on your dashboard. If the parking lot is full, you can try the shopping center across the street. But I didn’t say to do that.
Gear For the Hike
You don’t really need any special hiking gear to do this hike. Workout gear is fine for this one. Here’s what I would bring:
- Trail runners or sneakers
- Water and a great daypack
- Sun protection (it can get hot)
My Top Gear Picks
Do you have the right hiking gear? Will it stand up to the test? I waste lots of money testing hiking gear every year so that you don’t have to. My gear picks are solid choices that will serve you well on the trail. I don’t do sponsored or paid reviews, I just the share actual gear that I use all the time that’s made the cut. Here are my top picks:
- Garmin InReach Mini Emergency Beacon – Hiking out of cell phone range? Make sure you have one of these two-way satellite texting devices in case your hike doesn’t go as planned. You can read my full review here.
- Injinji Sock Liners With Darn Tough Hiking Socks – This combo is a great way to avoid blisters out on the trail. I have some insider-hiking tips for avoiding blisters here. Pair them with modern, high-tech hiking boots (for women and men) and your feet with thank you.
- Garmin Fenix 5x Plus – It’s a little pricey, but man do I love this thing. Not only does it have all the topo maps and navigation tools on my wrist, but it also acts as a long battery life, rugged, outdoors version of an Apple Watch. Track your workouts, sleep, heart rate, all that stuff.
I have lots of other great, sponsor-free, trail tested gear picks on my “best gear” page.
See My Full Gear List
Whiting Ranch Red Rock Canyon Trail Maps
I highly recommend bringing a good paper map with you, and then using it in conjunction with a GPS device. You can see the navigation gear that I use here (I’m currently using the Fenix 5x Plus and love it). Just download the GPX file below and load it onto your GPS.
Many people also print out this web page for the turn-by-turn images. And if you really want to get tricky, YouTube Premium lets you download videos for offline use, so you can download the hike video and save it.
Download the Hike GPX File
View a Printable PDF Hike Map
Whiting Ranch Red Rock Canyon Hike Directions
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