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Whiting Ranch Hiking: Red Rock Canyon

Whiting Ranch Hiking: Red Rock Canyon

There's a few Whiting Ranch hiking options, but Red Rock Canyon is the most popular for a good reason. The hike is mellow, easy, and ends in a smooth red rock canyon like you'd see in Arizona (but unique to Orange County).

Rating:
4 / 5
Distance:
4.2 miles (6.8 km)
Time:
1:45 hours
Difficulty:
Easy
Climbing:
420 ft (128 m)
Trail Condition:
Well Marked
Challenges:
Crowds
People:
Crowded
Known For:
Red rock canyon, wildlife
Best Time:
Sunset
Dogs:
No
Bathrooms:
Yes
Parking:
Fee

Whiting Ranch Hiking Trail Maps

Use this address in Google Maps to get to the trailhead:
26701 Portola Pkwy, Lake Forest, CA, 92610, USA

Whiting Ranch Hiking: Red Rock Canyon location

Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is about 30 minutes east of John Wayne Airport in Lake Forest.

Whiting Ranch Hiking: Red Rock Canyon 3d map

The hike winds it's way up through residential neighborhoods on the Borrego Canyon Trail. After that, you're in Whiting Ranch park proper.

Whiting Ranch Hiking: Red Rock Canyon elevation

It's a very easy uphill to the canyon. The hike climbs 200 feet every mile, you'll barely know your climbing to Red Rock Canyon. If you want a workout, there are other Whiting Ranch trails with tough climbs.

Interactive Map

Whiting Ranch Hiking Map Downloads

hiking map on garmin fenix 3

If you have GPS device (I use this one by Garmin and I love it) for your hike, load the GPX file below into your device to navigate the hike. For help on loading the GPX file, read this article on converting and transferring to a Garmin GPS.

Also, don’t rely on electronics as your sole means of navigation. There’s a basic printable PDF map below, and I strongly picking up a good topo map too.

View a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

Whiting Ranch Hiking Directions

Whiting Ranch Hiking: Red Rock Canyon

What To Expect

Turn by Turn Directions

Whiting Ranch Hiking: Red Rock Canyon parking
The parking lot has solar powered pay machines. Pay, get the ticket, and leave it inside your car on the top of your dashboard. Walk to the end of the lot, where you will find water fountains, maps, and porta-potties.
Borrego Canyon Trail trailhead
The Borrego Canyon Trail trailhead is obvious, it’s the only option. Start your hike here.
Borrego Canyon Trail
The Borrego Canyon Trail winds up through this narrow stretch of Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park. Just keep hiking straight and enjoy the shade of the oak trees.
Whiting Ranch Hiking trail
This section of Whiting Ranch is flanked by residential neighborhoods.
Whiting Ranch Hiking trail
At about 0.5 miles, avoid the intersecting trail and continue hiking straight.
Whiting Ranch Hiking trail
As you continue hiking up the Borrego Canyon Trail, there will be other small side trails, just continue hiking straight on the big trail.
mountain bikers on trail
Watch out for mountain bikers coming from behind as you hike up Borrego Canyon Trail. It’s a one way trail for the mountain bikes.
Whiting Ranch Hiking trail junction
At about 1.5 miles you’ll arrive at a big trail junction. A board has the trail map of the entire Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in case you want to refer to it. Hike to the right.
Red Rock Canyon trail
The trail winds around for a minute and you’ll see a sign for the Red Rock Canyon trail. Hike to the left onto the trail.
Red Rock Canyon trail
The trails at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park are nicely marked with these posts. There are no bikes allowed on the Red Rock Canyon trail.
Whiting Ranch Hiking trail gate
Hike to the right when you get to the gate.
Whiting Ranch Hiking trail on stream bed
The trail goes on and off the stream bed as you hike towards Red Rock Canyon.
Whiting Ranch Hiking trail on stream bed
Keep an eye out for when the trail goes off of the stream bed. It’s easy to keep hiking on the stream bed since it looks like a trail.
Red Rock Canyon
At around 2 miles, you’ll start to see Red Rock Canyon.
Red Rock Canyon trail end
Here you are at Red Rock Canyon! The trail dead ends here. Please respect the park and don’t hike past this point.
Red Rock Canyon
Take some time to soak in Red Rock Canyon. When you’re ready, turn around and hike back the way you came.

A quick note. These directions are meant as a guide for the hike, and not a definitive source. Conditions change, and the information here can be different based on time of day, weather, season, etc. There can be small side trails that you might see but I missed. I have made every effort to include all the information you need to complete the hike successfully. I recommend using this guide in conjunction with a map, GPX file, common sense, and call to the ranger station or park office. If you do the hike and notice something has changed, please contact me and I will update the guide.

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