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Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
Loop
Distance
5.00 mi (8.05 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Orange County may not be the first destination that comes to mind when thinking of a red rock canyon formation, but visitors to Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park will find a great hike through exactly that along the Red Rock Canyon Trail, which is easily accessible via the Borrego Canyon Trailhead. 

Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is located right in the middle of Foothill Ranch area in Orange County. Because of its convenient location, this are naturally does receive a lot of traffic. Parking is available at the trailhead for a fee, and this is easy to find because of a huge sculpture and information kiosk. The trailhead area is well maintained, and visitors will also find a portable toilet and seating area. 

The Borrego Canyon Trail climbs gradually as it leads through old-growth forest for approximately 1.3 miles. Birds and rabbits are everywhere along this forested section of trail. Note that this is a multi-use trail, and while bikes are allowed to use the trail in one direction only, dogs aren't allowed here due to mountain lion activities. Be sure to watch for bikes while on the trail.

As you reach the first junction, the Red Rock Canyon Trail will be on your left. Follow this singletrack for approximately 5 minutes and the red rock canyon formations will start to appear. The change in scenery is dramatic, and none of the red rock is visible at the beginning of the hike. The geologic formations in this canyon are remarkable and worth slowing down for; after all, this section of the hike is only a half mile long. The Red Rock Canyon Trail ends at a restricted area, where it is important to respect the closures meant to protect this area from heavy visitor traffic. When you've enjoyed this phenomenal section of trial, return the way you came.

Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is a perfect area for weekend family outings as it is kid friendly, though summer temperatures can get hot and there is no water along the trail. Also, be mindful that this is mountain lion habitat: avoid early morning and late evening hikes, and hike with others if you can.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

county regional and Wilderness parking pass

Pros

Easy access. Wildflowers. Old-growth forest.

Cons

Crowds. Limited parking. No water. Mountain lions.

Trailhead Elevation

817.00 ft (249.02 m)

Net Elevation Gain

522.00 ft (159.11 m)

Features

Old-growth forest
Wildflowers
Cave
Geologically significant

Suitable for

Biking
Horseback

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Los Angeles Metro Area, California
Los Angeles Metro Area, California
Los Angeles Metro Area, California

Comments

02/10/2018
First and foremost, this trail is a there-and-back type of trail. There is no loop. When planning to do this hike, take note that the parking for Whiting Ranch is very small and may only fit 10 cars most. You can park across the street by the McDonalds where you won't have to pay for any parking fees. This trail is also occupied by Mountain Lions, but there hasn't been any attacks for over 10 years. Not to mention, this hike is very crowded so the chances of you running into a mountain lion will be very slim. Regardless, be safe and aware of your surroundings if you decide to hike very early to avoid crowds.
07/30/2016
I would change the region. This place is like 2 hours away from San Diego - you should change it to Orange County region. And "trail" is misspelled in the second to last paragraph.
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