Quail Hill Loop (City of Irvine Open Space)

The Quail Hill Loop in the Irvine Open Space Preserve is a great place to go Hiking in Orange County. We recently had the opportunity to hike the Quail Hill Loop, which is one of many Irvine hiking trails. The Quail Hill Loop and the Quail Hill Trailhead is part of the larger 5,200 acre Irvine Open Space Preserve that is managed by the Irvine Ranch Conservancy. The Quail Hill Loop is a beautiful location to take a hike as it is part of the Irvine Ranch Conservancy. The Quail Hill Trail Loop is a hiking trail that offers the chance to see local Orange County wildlife and is a fun short hike the whole family will enjoy together while hiking in Orange County. For more pictures make sure to check out our Facebook Page.

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 HikeThe 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.  

Additionally, while visiting the Quail Hill Loop Trail, bring along your cell phone and experience Irvine’s self-guided cell phone audio tour. Just dial in to hear natural resource interpreters and researchers explain important features along this Irvine hiking trail. The tour itself is free, but you will use your own cell service and minutes. Additionally, the tour can be listened to from any phone, anywhere, any time. Instructions for the audio tour and a trail map are available at the trailhead.

The audio tour is also available in a podcast format. You can listen to the podcast on your computer or download the audio files for free to your portable listening device. Load your iPod or other MP3 player with the files and take it out with you to explore the Quail Hill Loop Trail. You can download the podcast and listen to the audio tour by clicking Here.
Another great feature of the Quail Hill Loop Trail is the vista point. It is a small extension of the trail to a lookout area that offers great views of Orange County and the greater Southern California area. On clear days you get great views of Mt. Baldy, Saddleback Mountain, the Santa Ana Mountains, and you can even see downtown Los Angeles. 
The Quail Hill Loop is a great hiking location in Orange County and is a fun short hike for those just looking for a quick excursion to some of the great open spaces in Orange County. This whole area was once agricultural land and is now in the process of being restored back into its natural state. Both Ashley and I really enjoyed our hike here, but if you go hiking here on a warm summer day make sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and a hat as there is limited shade along this hike.

Rating: Elevation Gain: < 100 ft. (Easy), Distance: 1.8 Miles Roundtrip (Easy).

Time to Complete Hike: 1 - 1.5 hours.

View Quail Hill in a larger map


  1. We enjoyed this hike on Saturday...it's a little desolate this time of year but pretty in it's own way.

  2. This was a really nice hike. I did the loop twice. Great training hike for trail running. I also liked that it was pretty much empty during the week. Thanks for the excellent description.


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