Oak Canyon Nature Center

The Oak Canyon Nature Center is a fun family friendly hike in Anaheim, California.  This small but surprisingly secluded hike in Anaheim, is a place that Ashley and I recently had the opportunity to explore. The Oak Canyon Nature Center is a small nature park at roughly 60 acres in size, and is definitely a kid friendly hike in Orange County. If you are looking for a great short hike to take the entire family on, the Oak Canyon Nature Center in Anaheim is the place for you. 

Directions to Trailhead: To get to the Oak Canyon Nature Center, if you are coming from the 91 freeway, exit at Imperial Highway and drive one mile south to Nohl Ranch Rd. Turn left there and go east for 2 miles until you reach Walnut Canyon Rd. Turn left there and continue to the end of the road where you will find parking. Click Here for a map to the Oak Canyon Nature Center or you can also look at the Google map provided below.

Description of Hike: The Oak Canyon Nature Center is roughly 60 acres in size and contains roughly 4 miles of hiking trails. There is no cost to enter the nature center and there is no cost for parking, so it is free for everyone wanting to enjoy the Oak Canyon Nature Center. This is a perfect hike for those with small kids or for those with only a little time to get out and enjoy the outdoors. When hiking in the park, we did two loops of the Oak Canyon Nature Center which included most of the trails in the park. Click Here for a printable trail map of the park. The Oak Canyon Nature Center's hours are from 9am to 5pm each day and the parks interpretive center is open Saturdays from 10am - 4pm.

The Oak Canyon Nature Center is located in between a golf course and a reservoir on one side, and a suburban housing tract on the other. Even despite the closeness to these suburban items, while hiking at the Oak Canyon Nature Center you feel surprisingly secluded. This is is a great place to hike with children as the trails are well maintained and not strenuous. Habitats in the Oak Canyon Nature Center includes a trickling stream and riparian area shaded by coastal live oaks and hillsides which are covered with chaparral and sage-scrub.

Further Thoughts: If you are looking for a true wilderness experience or a strenuous trail, a hike at the Oak Canyon Nature Center might not be for you as the trails are short and at times you can see homes. But if you are looking to get away and enjoy a fun hike in nature this is a great hike in Orange County. The hike begins near the interpretive center by the parking lot. The Oak Canyon Nature Center is oriented around the main road trail which runs down the center of the park. The main road trail is paved in most portions and is a very easy trail to hike. It is a slight uphill grade from the interpretive center to the end of the main road trail. There are many other trails that branch off the main trail and explore other areas of the park. While you are on the main road trail it feels as though you are in the wilderness. I would suggest hiking to the end of the main road trail and returning on one of the side trails.

The Oak Canyon Nature Center (Park) is composed of three different canyons with a year round stream in it. While we were there we saw several woodpeckers, squirrels, and other local wildlife. The park gets a fair amount of wildlife because of its proximity to the Irvine Ranch Preserve and the Santa Ana Mountains. If you hike along the roadrunner trail during a sunny afternoon you will find a lot of lizzards inhabit that area. While there we observed western fence lizzards, blue tailed skinks (Plestiodon), and Side-blotched Lizards.

One negative of the Oak Canyon Nature Center is the power lines that run through the center of a portion of the park. They distract from the ambiance of the park. Another negative is the proximity of the homes to the park. The higher trails of the park like the Wren Way Trail, the BlueBird Trail, and the Roadrunner Ridge trail all offer spectacular views of the Oak Canyon Nature Center and the greater Southern California area. On clear days you can get good views of the San Gabriel Mountains and the greater Los Angeles Basin.

The Oak Canyon Nature Center also has exhibits for all visitors to enjoy. Specifically they have one on the types of mining that took place in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains. They also have a heritage exhibit where you can learn about the types of plants and animals that inhabit Southern California and Orange County. The bottom-lines is the Oak Canyon Nature Center has stuff and hikes for people of all ages. You will likely see other hikers in the park while you are there. We highly recommend this park for those who wish to go hiking with their kids as it is a safer more controlled environment than other wilderness areas.

Rating: Elevation Gain: 200ft. (Easy), Distance: 1 - 2 Miles Roundtrip (Easy).

Time to Complete Hike: 1 hour.

View Oak Canyon Nature Center in a larger map


  1. Nice, easy hike. Lots of mom and me groups hanging out in the area.

  2. I remember hiking this as a kid. Great for anyone. If you only have 30 minutes, half hour. the trees are beautiful. You must see to appreciate.


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