Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park (Borrego Trailhead to Vista Lookout)

Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is a great hiking location in Orange County. The hike to the Vista Lookout in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is a fun hike as it is one of the tallest spots at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park. Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is a 4,300 acre OC Park's Wilderness Park with miles of oak covered creek trails, ridge lines, and gorgeous views. The Borrego Trail in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is a well traveled hiking trail and we both enjoyed this hike to the Vista Lookout. You are likely to see other hikers or mountain bikers when you are visiting the trails at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park.

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. You will likely see other hikers and mountain bikers out enjoying the trails at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park any day of the week. There are many options for hikes as far as distance and altitude change. You can make your hike as easy or as strenuous as you would like. We took the Borrego Trail and made a left onto Mustard Rd, and made another right onto the Vista Look out road. This brought us to the Vista Look out at 1,500 ft, which offered great views of Southern California. This is an out and back hike and the total distance for the hike is 5.5 miles roundtrip and the elevation change is about 700 ft. 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: Brian and I hiked this at sunset, and it was so peaceful and beautiful. At first, you enter in between the Foothill Ranch housing tracts, then you continue back, and you enter pure wilderness! High hill tops surround you, with a canopy of trees that cover you as you walk the trail. (Some parts of the trail are sand and your feet sink into it, making the resistance of the walk good for added exercise.) Though you can continue the hike for miles, we decided to take the mustard seed trail to the top of a ridge line overlooking a 180 degree view of San Juan Capistrano to Mission Viejo, to Irvine, to Newport, and as far out as Catalina Island. While hiking on this trail you also have spectacular views of the Santa Ana Mountains.

When we hiked this trail at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park there were a couple of mountain bikers on this trail as well as a couple of other hikers. We did not see any mountain lions, but they have been spotted on this trail many times before. (As early as about 3 days before Brian and I hiked it.) There is a nice picnic table at the very top of the hill and you can enjoy beautiful views of the Saddleback Valley on one side of you and of the Saddleback Mountain Range with the rolling foothills on the other side. (There was even a wild pumpkin patch (stinking gourd) at the top of the hill. That was cool to see!).

This is a fun Orange County hike. There is ample wildlife that visits Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park. We saw deer tracks as well as other tracks on some of the trails we were on. Make sure to bring a camera and be ready for any wildlife that you see. This park is truly a gem in Orange County and we will be back to visit this wilderness park very soon.

Rating: Elevation Gain: 700 ft. (Moderate), Distance: 5.5 Miles Roundtrip (Moderate).

Time to Complete Hike: 2 - 3 hours.


Borrego Trailhead to Billy Goat Trail Loop

Borrego Trailhead to Red Rock Canyon

Borrego Trailhead to Vista Lookout (This Post)


  1. Hey guys! I hiked this last month and LOVED it. Your descriptions and photos make it super easy to follow and pick a great destination in So Cal. Wanted to let you know that the "Red Rock Trail" in Whiting Ranch is also a must see. Hike in about 1/2 mile to see some Sandstone Cliffs and Red Rocks. Beautiful!

  2. Hiked this on Saturday with our hiking group and it was really crowded with hikers and bikers. It was just the perfect day to hike and loved every minute of it. Thanks for giving such great details on the trails =D


  3. Thanks so much for the info. Going to take the girlfriend tomorrow.

  4. Had a great time. Nice to do a hike that has some shade (rare when hiking in the OC). Lots of wildlife. The Borrego Trail was certainly crowded, probably 30 hikers/bikers. But once we started up Mustard Rd we had the hike to ourselves.


    Great Blog!


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.