Sunday, April 29, 2012

Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park (Borrego Trailhead to Red Rock Canyon)

One of the Best Hikes in Orange County is the hike in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park to Red Rock Canyon. Red Rock Canyon in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is truly beautiful, especially in the evening portion of the day, which brings out the softer colors of Red Rock Canyon. This hiking trail is one of the most well known hikes in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park and is a must do Orange County hiker. For more pictures of Red Rock Canyon in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park make sure to check out our Facebook Page.

Directions to Trailhead: To get to Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park's Borrego Trailhead, take the Bake exit off of I-5, and head toward the Santa Ana Mountains. In about 5 miles you will make a left onto Portola Parkway, go about a half mile and make a right at the first light which is Market Street. On your left is the trailhead. On your right you will see a Ralphs Shopping Center as well as a USA gas station. Remember to bring 3 dollars for parking as exact change is needed. There is plenty of parking available at the trailhead.  Additionally, there are usually trail maps available at the Borrego Trailhead.

Description of Hike: The hiking trails in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park are in good shape because they are maintained by the people at OC Parks. Additionally, Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is a very popular Orange County hiking and mountain biking location and you are likely to see other hikers and mountain bikers on the trails any day of the week at the park. There are many options for hikes as far as distance and altitude change at this park but one of the best and most well known hikes in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is the hike to Red Rock Canyon. Take the Borrego Trail from the parking area (The Borrego Trailhead) for approximately 1.6 miles. This section of the hike is quite beautiful.  Sections of the Borrego Trail are sandy because it follows along side a stream bed. On this section of the trail you will notice native oak and sycamore trees. You will also eventually lose sight of the homes on the ridge line above.  

Once you come to the end of the Borrego Trail make a right onto Mustard Rd and shortly you will make a  left and follow the Red Rock Canyon trail. This trail goes through a more exposed section of Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park and continues to follow an intermittent stream bed. Portions of the trail may be a little difficult to follow here during the rainy season. As you get closer to the red rocks you will notice that the canyon continues to narrow. This is an out and back hike and you will return to the trailhead via the same trails. Remember to bring 3 dollars for parking. We have provided a Google Map below and an additional map of the hiking trails in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park can be found Here. Additionally, the brochure for Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park can be found Here.

Further Thoughts: This is a must do hike in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park and seeing Red Rock Canyon is a great reward at the end of a good hike. The colors of  Red Rock Canyon are in our opinion even more dramatic in the evening's soft light. This rock formation is part of the same rock formation that comprises the Sinks (The grand canyon of Orange County) which is only a couple of miles from this location in Limestone Canyon Wilderness Park. Red Rock Canyon is one of the major highlights and sights to see in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park.

When hiking in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park always be on the watch out for local Orange County wildlife. While hiking here we saw numerous deer tracks as well as other wildlife tracks. We did see a deer while on this hike to Red Rock Canyon. Most of the hikes we have been on in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, we have had the good fortune to see deer and other wildlife. Make sure to bring a camera and be ready for any wildlife that you see. Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is truly a gem in Orange County and the hike to Red Rock Canyon is a fun short day hike in Orange County. 

Rating: Elevation Gain: 500 ft. (Easy - Moderate), Distance: 4.4 Miles Roundtrip (Easy - Moderate).

Time to Complete Hike: 1.5 - 2.5 hours.


Borrego Trailhead to Red Rock Canyon (This Post)


  1. We just did this hike today. It was really beautiful. Your description is perfect. At home in HB it was cloudy and overcast but the hike was nice and sunny and not too hot. A perfect 2 hr hike. I love your blog and check it out weekly for another new hike. Thanks for sharing.

  2. My grandson and I did Redrock this morning, what a great hike. I have lived in OC most of my life and had now idea of this trail. Trail head to cocks corner for breakfast. Great day! Thanks Brandon


Ashley and I encourage and welcome our readers to submit comments about their experiences on the trails we have posted on our blog or about their own hiking experiences in general.