- Home - Hiking Trails - Orange County Hiking Whiting Ranch Hiking: Red Rock Canyon
In This Guide How to Get to Whiting Ranch Red Rock Canyon Whiting Ranch Red Rock Canyon Trail Maps Turn by Turn Hike Directions What You Need To Do the Hike Distance 4.2 miles (6.8 km) Time 1:45 hours Difficulty Easy Total Climbing 420 feet (128m) Dog Friendly No Park Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park Park Phone 949-923-2245
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. Keep your eyes open for mule deer around the trail. I see them at the Red Rock Canyon hike almost every time I do it. Early mornings are a good time to spot them. Photo Dcrjsr
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, Lake Forest, CA, 92610, USA.
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 Camera Sun protection (it can get hot) If you want hiking gear recommendations, check out my full gear list . I only recommend and review gear that I actually use. No company pays me to push their product. Everything on my gear list is battle tested on the trails, and should work well for you too. See The Gear I Use Whiting Ranch Red Rock Canyon Trail Maps
I highly recommend bringing some form of 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 and love it). Just download the GPX file below and load it onto your GPS. Download the Hike GPX File View a Printable PDF Hike 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 Red Rock Canyon Hike 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. You can help other hikers. If you do this hike and something has changed, snap a few photos and email me the details. I’ll update the guide so that others can do the hike safely. You May Also Enjoy Gear I Use
Don’t waste your money on gear that’s no good, I’ve done that for you. All my picks are solid choices that will serve you well on the trail.
See What I Use Why HikingGuy?
Cris Hazzard, and I want to help you enjoy the outdoors. I'm sharing my knowledge, guides, and the gear I personally use so that you can go out, have fun, and be safe. Was This Guide Helpful?
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