- Home - Hiking Trails - Orange County Hiking 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).
4.2 miles (6.8 km)
Red rock canyon, wildlife
Whiting Ranch Hiking Trail Maps
Google Maps trailhead:
26701 Portola Pkwy, Lake Forest, CA, 92610, USA Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is about 30 minutes east of John Wayne Airport in Lake Forest. The hike winds it's way up through residential neighborhoods on the Borrego Canyon Trail. After that, you're in Whiting Ranch park proper. 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 View a Printable PDF Hike Map Download the Hike GPX File Gear for the Whiting Ranch Hiking The best hydration daypack out there. The CamelBak Fourteener has been perfect on hikes of all distances (including Mt Whitney and Cactus to Clouds). It's light, has plenty of room for super-food snacks, extra layers, hiking gear, and comes with a 3 liter water bladder. I also like the raised sweat pads on the back that keep your back dry. It's the perfect blend of high-tech, durability, and simplicity. I've got hundreds of hours on it and still love it. CamelBak Fourteener Reviews My favorite hiking boot of all time. The La Sportiva Synthesis (for men and women) are waterproof, super-light, have incredible grip, and won a Backpacker Magazine Editor's Choice Award ( my review here). I've gone through a lot of boots and these are my favorite. They feel like comfortable sneakers with the protection of hiking boots. La Sportiva Hiking Boot Reviews Don't hike without this in your backpack. It's a GPS emergency beacon and can save your life ( more on that here). On the trail, you're often out of cell phone range, and even something as simple as a twisted ankle could become a life and death situation. This beacon works where cell phones don't and is the size of a fist. Just press a button and help is on the way. Your life is worth every penny. ACR GPS Beacon Reviews And don't forget to My complete list of hiking gear and survival kit contents is here, check it out! check out REI outlet for great gear at half price. Whiting Ranch Hiking Directions What To Expect 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. Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is rich with wildlife. I often see squirrels and lizards, and less often deer and rattlesnakes. Be aware of where you step and keep your eyes open. Unfortunately, Whiting Ranch has been the location of mountain lion attacks in recent California history. 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). 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. Turn by Turn Directions 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. The Borrego Canyon Trail trailhead is obvious, it’s the only option. Start your hike here. 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. This section of Whiting Ranch is flanked by residential neighborhoods. At about 0.5 miles, avoid the intersecting trail and continue hiking straight. As you continue hiking up the Borrego Canyon Trail, there will be other small side trails, just continue hiking straight on the big 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. 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. 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. The trails at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park are nicely marked with these posts. There are no bikes allowed on the Red Rock Canyon trail. Hike to the right when you get to the gate. The trail goes on and off the stream bed as you hike towards Red Rock Canyon. 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. At around 2 miles, you’ll start to see Red Rock Canyon. Here you are at Red Rock Canyon! The trail dead ends here. Please respect the park and don’t hike past this point. Take some time to soak in Red Rock Canyon. When you’re ready, turn around and hike back the way you came.
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Read More 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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