Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park (Borrego Trailhead to Billy Goat Trail Loop)

Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is a great place to go hiking in Orange County. A hike in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park offers amazing scenery as well as a great chance to see local Orange County wildlife. The Borrego Trail & Billy Goat Loop is a fun day hike in Orange County that allows you to see the beauty that is in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park. For more pictures of our hike 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: Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is well maintained and the hiking trails in the park are clearly marked with sign posts. This particular hike does have some elevation gain to it once you reach the Billy Goat Trail. From the Borrego Trailhead you will head up the Borrego Trail deep into Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park. The first part of the hike goes between two subdivisions in Foothill Ranch. In about a mile and a half you will come to the Mustard Rd. Trail and you will make a right. We made a left onto the Billy Goat Trail, which is a hilly ridge-line trail. For this hike, to complete the loop, take the Billy Goat Trail the entire 0.7 miles until it ends and make a right onto the Whiting Spur Trail, followed by a right onto the Mustard Rd. Trail. We also completed the short Cattle Pond Loop on the way back down before you take the Borrego Trail back to the trailhead. Overall, this hike is about 5.3 miles out and back with about 650 feet of elevation gain. The views from the Billy Goat Trail in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park are amazing and it is the most challenging section of this hike. 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: Ashley and I really enjoyed our time on this hike at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park. We went in the late afternoon near dusk when all the wildlife in the park starts to come out. We saw two skunks while on this hike in addition to 3 deer. We also saw a number of field mice, turkey vultures, and hawks. To see the video of one of the skunks we saw while hiking on the trails at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, click Here. This park has a lot of wildlife and anytime you go hiking here you want to make sure to have your camera because you never know what you will see. Additionally, even though the first part of the hike is in close proximity to homes, once you begin from the trailhead you are immediately immersed in an oak woodland that is thick enough to block out most of the homes close by. 

The Billy Goat Trail is by far the most challenging part of this hike. It is a ridge-line hike for approximately 0.7 miles. The trail, towards its apex, offers great views of the entire Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park as well as Santiago Peak (The top of Saddleback Mountain) and the rest of Orange County. Additionally you can view portions of the rock formations that make up the rocks/hills that form Red Rock Canyon which is another fun hike in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park.

Anytime you go hiking in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park you are likely to see many other hikers and mountain bikers while out on the trails. It is a popular location for both hikers and mountain bikers. When hiking in this location you can still see the scares left on the park from the 2007 Santiago Fire which burned most of Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park. Overall, this is a great hike in one of orange county's great hiking locations.

Rating: Elevation Gain: 650 ft. (Moderate), Distance: 5.3 Miles (Moderate).

Time to Complete Hike: 2 - 3 hours.


Borrego Trailhead to Billy Goat Trail Loop (This Post)

Borrego Trailhead to Red Rock Canyon

Borrego Trailhead to Vista Lookout


  1. Weren't you afraid of mountain lion attacks?

  2. We personally did not have any fear of a mountain lion attack. We have done lots of hiking in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park and have found it to be a fun hiking location in Orange County. For a list of recorded attacks by mountain lions since the late 1890 check out http://tchester.org/sgm/lists/lion_attacks_ca.html Statistically you are looking at under 25 recorded attacks in the state of California within the last 120 years and less than 10 deaths. However, 10 years ago, Whiting Ranch was sadly the location of one of those recorded mountain lion attacks. The last recorded mountain lion attack before that in Orange County was in 1986 in Caspers Wilderness Park. It is important to keep in mind that your risk of an attack from a mountain lion is even smaller if you are hiking with two or more people/not venturing alone into the back-county. Statistics show your risk of harm from a mountain lion is deminimus when compared to other dangers in the back county. You have a greater risk of harm from Rattlesnakes. The California Poison Control Center notes that rattlesnakes account for more than 800 bites each year with unfortunately one to two deaths per year.

  3. You ought to try hiking into Whiting from the Concourse Park trailhead on Saddleback Ranch Road. There's no charge for parking and you come in near Sleepy Hollow.

  4. Hi, thank you for this info. Was this trail shaded for a good portion? We would like to get out tomorrow but it is meant to be quite a hot day. Thank you!


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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.