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).
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.
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
An easy way to give back is to simply pick up any trash you see on the trail.
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.