Turtle Rock Hike (Irvine)

Last weekend Ashley and I got the chance to go hiking in the Turtle Rock area of Irvine. Turtle Rock is a great hiking area that offers great views of the surrounding hills and Orange County. We both are classifying this hike as an urban hike, so for those that are looking for a true wilderness feel this hike in Irvine is probably not for you. However, the Turtle Rock hike in Irvine does have enough wilderness to it that most hikers will have a great time. Furthermore, it is very close to the 20,000 acre South Coast Wilderness.

Directions to Trailhead: The trailhead to hike at Turtle Rock in Irvine is at Chaparral Park, 19032 Turtle Rock Drive. To get to the Turtle Rock Trailhead coming from the 405 going north, exit onto University Drive and make a left. Upon Reaching Culver, make another left. Make a left onto Campus drive, then a right onto Turtle Rock Drive. Proceed On turtle Rock drive for a little while until you see Chaparral Park on your left. Make a left onto Sundance Drive and an immediate left to park at the Elementary School. You can also park anywhere in the neighborhood.

Description of Hike: This is a great Orange County hike in Irvine. The Turtle Rock hike is less than 3 miles roundtrip to do the loop that we did below, with an approximate elevation gain of 250 feet. However the number of trails at Turtle Rock allows any hiker to tailor their hike to whatever length to their needs. You can make your hike at Turtle Rock as easy or as strenuous as you would like. Parking is also free, which is a great price. The top of the hill is a great place to eat lunch and gaze over Southern California. Some portions of the Turtle Rock trail are paved, while the majority of the trail is not. The only negative to this hike is that there are no trail markers when hiking in this area.

Further Thoughts: This was a great hike in Irvine for Ashley and I. We have been up here a couple of times before, but this is the first time we have documented our hike at Turtle Rock. The Turtle Rock Hike offers sweeping view of all of Orange County and the Santa Ana Mountains. You can see Catalina Island as well. There are spectacular views of the north portion of the South Coast Wilderness.

On this hike, make sure to bring your camera as there are great views as well as the potential to spot local Orange County wildlife while you are hiking. While we were hiking last week we watched two hawks hunting in one of the open fields on the hike. We could both tell that they frequent this spot, to prey on the ground squirrels that called that field home. It was just amazing to watch the Hawks dive bomb the area. This area is full of wildlife and another time we were there we saw a coyote while hiking at Turtle Rock in Irvine. When you go on this hike you are also likely to see other hikers as it is a popular hiking trail in Irvine.

Ashley and I look forward to coming back to this area soon. There are lots of hiking trails in this area of Irvine. For those that are interested in exploring a little more of this area you might want to visit the Turtle Rock Nature Center which is just up the road. The operating hours for the Turtle Rock Nature Center are 9am - 5pm Monday - Friday, 9am - 4pm Saturdays, and the Turtle Rock Nature Center is closed on Sundays. They have some great exhibits and a short trail perfect for every one of all ages. To read more about the Turtle Rock Nature Center please visit our write-up of it Here.

For those looking for more options on hikes near here, Amazon has several books that you can purchase (and yes, we do earn a small commission from any sale, but that is what funds this website so we appreciate any purchase using our links) Check out the following books and maps Explorer's Guide 50 Hikes in Orange County50 Hikes in Orange CountyOrange County California Bikeways & Trails Guide Waterproof Map, and South Coast Wilderness Trail Guide Orange County California Franko Maps Waterproof Map.

Rating: Elevation Gain: 250 ft. (Easy), Distance: 2.7 Miles Roundtrip (Easy).

Time to Complete Hike: 1 - 2 hours.

View Turtle Rock in a larger map


  1. My wife and I just did this hike and had a great time. Great views of Central OC all the way from Anaheim to Newport beach.



  2. Have you ever seen the cave of Turtle Rock? Someone said that if you follow the west side of Strawberry Farms Golf course gold cart path and look west to the hill, you'll see some caves that go as deep as 8 feet.

  3. Thanks for the information, we have not seen those caves, but next time we are in that area we will look for them.

  4. I love reading through your blog, I wanted to leave a little comment to support you and wish you a good continuation. Wish you best of luck for all your best efforts.
    Offset Printing Orange County


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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.