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Hiking Trails in Orange County

Orange County hiking trails are arguably the best on the west coast. Whether you're a casual hiker or avid outdoorsman, there's something here for everyone. From challenging 16 milers to an easy walk along the coast, here's some of the best hikes in Orange County.

Panhe Nature Trail

Difficulty: Easy 

Looking for hiking in Orange County that's family friendly? The Panhe Nature Trail might be just what you're looking for. Located near the Cristianitos campground at the San Onofre State Beach, this is a short one mile round trip with markers highlighting the natural beauty of the park. 

  panhe nature trail


Ridgeline Loop to Barbara's Lake 

Difficulty: Medium 

Few people know that Orange County is actually home to several natural lakes. Most "lakes" are actually man-made reservoirs, but the Laguna Lakes in Laguna Canyon are the real deal, and Barbara's Lake is the largest in the chain.

This moderate hike in Laguna Canyon's James Dilley Preserve gives you a glimpse into a rare wilderness island in a sea of suburbia. In the canyon, you step back in time where the hills, lakes and landscape hasn't changed much over the years.


Beek's Place via Black Star Canyon

Difficulty: Very Hard
Mysterious ruins in a canyon that used to be home to grizzly bears? In Orange County? Yes, and getting there is a heckuva hike. This strenuous, 15 mile out-and-back trail up Black Star Canyon has several highlights, including a great views, a beautiful waterfall (in season), and the remains of Beek's Place - a weekend getaway built by Joseph Beek in the 1930's. Beek was remarkably accomplished and he started the Balboa Ferry - which his family still owns.

Black Star Canyon is rich with history and legend. Up until the late 1800's, the canyon was home to numerous grizzly bears (none remain in California today). The canyon was home to the Black Star Mining Company, for which the canyon is named. And according to a story recounted by early settler J.E. "Judge" Pleasants, an armed conflict between American fur trappers, led by William Wolfskill, and a group of Tongva Indians occurred in 1831.