Directions to Trailhead: To get to the trailhead for this Orange County hike, you need to exit the 405 Freeway in Irvine at the Sand Canyon Avenue Exit. You will want to head towards Shady Canyon and Sand Canyon Avenue will turn into Shady Canyon Drive. After you pass through the modern roundabout, you will make a right into the trailhead area for the Quail Hill Loop that is well marked. The turn for the trailhead is just beyond the fire station. If you go too far you will run into the gated community of Shady Canyon. There is plenty of free parking at the trailhead area for Quail Hill Loop in the Irvine Ranch Conservancy. This section of the Irvine Ranch National Landmark is open from 7am to sunset. The Quail Hill Loop Trailhead is located at 34 Shady Canyon Drive Irvine, CA 92603. We have provided a Google map below.
Description of Hike: The 2.8-acre Quail Hill Trailhead area provides access to southern Irvine’s extensive trail network. The Quail Hill Loop Trail is an easy 1.8 mile roundtrip natural surface trail at the foot of Quail Hill, which is part of the Irvine Ranch National Landmark. The area is open to the public from dawn to dusk and offers great hiking in Orange County. There is minimal elevation gain on this hike and the views on portions of the hike area spectacular on clear days. The Quail Hill Loop is well maintained and is easy to follow. You will likely see others while out on this trail as it is a one of the popular hiking trails in Orange County.
Further Thoughts: The Quail Hill Loop is a great hike through part of the Irvine Open Space Preserve. This is a hike that is perfect for the whole family and most any hiker will enjoy this trail. The only negative about the hike is that you don't really get away from the noise of the 405 freeway, but the trail is far enough away from the freeway where the noise is really very minimal and it does not affect your views.
One of the neat things about this hike is the seasonal pond (Vernal Pool) that this Orange County hike goes by. There was plenty of water in the vernal pool when we visited here and there were even frogs surrounding the pond. This seasonal pond is a 1 acre man made vernal pool. Vernal pool soil from another site was imported to this area to provide the wildlife that is normally found in vernal pools. Near this area we also had the opportunity to observe a centipede that was crossing the trail. There is plenty of wildlife that visits/inhabits the wilderness around the Quail Hill Loop and you are going to want to have your camera ready to take pictures.
Rating: Elevation Gain: < 100 ft. (Easy), Distance: 1.8 Miles Roundtrip (Easy).
Time to Complete Hike: 1 - 1.5 hours.
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