Whiting Ranch Hiking: Red Rock Canyon
|In This Guide|
|Distance||4.2 miles (6.8 km)|
|Hike Time||1:45 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||470 feet (143m)|
|Highest Elevation||1,262 feet (385m)|
|Fees & Permits||Parking Fee|
|Park Contact||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. Just make sure you have some water, it can get hot during the day.
Here’s the gear that I personally use, have tested, and recommend for this hike*.
Good for light and more hardcore hikes. Feels like a sneaker but protects like a hiking boot.
This is a super-light and comfortable backpack that can hold everything you need on a hike, including a hydration bladder. It also works great as a general backpack or carry-on.
Make your photos stand out by using this lightweight, do-anything tripod. The Joby attaches your smartphone to trees, rocks, whatever you can find on the trail. Folds down compactly too.
Don’t waster your money on hiking gear that’s no good, I’ve done that for you already! Full HikingGuy Gear List
* 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 REI link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.
Also → Big Sale at REI On Now:
Whiting Ranch Red Rock Canyon Trail Maps
Whiting Ranch Hiking: Red Rock Canyon Map Downloads
Download the Hike GPX File
View a Printable PDF Hike Map
Whiting Ranch Red Rock Canyon Hike Directions
Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.