Talbert Nature Preserve (Costa Mesa)

One of the places Ashley and I had the chance to visit recently was the Talbert Nature Preserve located in Costa Mesa, California. The (South) Talbert Nature Preserve is approximately 88.5 acres large and is a good coastal hiking location. For those looking for a true wilderness feel this may not be the hike for you because of the proximity of homes. For more pictures of the Talbert Nature Preserve make sure to check out our Facebook Page.

Directions to Trailhead: To get to the trailhead to hike at the Talbert Nature Preserve, take the 55 freeway heading toward the beach. Once you exit at the end of the 55 freeway, head west (right) on 19th Street. Go approximately 1 mile and make a right onto Monrovia followed by a quick left onto Arbor. After this turn, the park entrance is just ahead on your right. Drive to the lower parking area where there are a number of parking spaces. Parking at the Canyon Community Park is free and the park is open dusk to dawn 7 days a week. The Talbert Nature Preserve is free to enter and is open from 7am to Dusk 7 days a week.

Description of Hike: The Talbert Nature Preserve is well maintained by the people at OC Parks. There is minimal elevation gain with any trail you hike at the Talbert Nature Preserve. Also it is important to remember that this area has the potential to flood/stay wet after an extended period of rain because it is a low lying area. From the trailhead at the parking lot of Canyon Community Park, we took the paved path all the way to the Talbert Nature Preserve. Most of the trails at the Talbert Nature Preserve are marked with trail markers. There were no maps available when we went, which means it is a good idea to print a trail map of this Orange County hike before you hike at the Talbert Nature Preserve. A trail map of the Talbert Nature Preserve can be found Here. From the pathway entrance we made a right onto the A Trail, a left on the B Trail, a right on the C Trail. The C Trail eventually became the D Trail. We followed the D Trail and made a left on the B Trail and then a right onto the E Trail. The E trail ran into the D Trail where we made a left and returned back to our point of entry. Note, be on the watch out for bicyclists as there is a designated BMX bike area in the Talbert Nature Preserve. We saw several people riding their bikes in the BMX area. Our total hike was 2.2 miles with less than 100 feet of elevation gain. Note if you are looking for a true wilderness feel this might not be the hike for your, however it makes for great urban hiking in Orange County.

Further Thoughts: Ashley and I enjoyed our hike in the Talbert Nature Preserve. It is one of the few open space areas in Central Orange County. There were not very many people on the trails when we hiked here, as the trails were still a little muddy from a recent storm. The trails in the Talbert Nature Preserve as a whole were well maintained. When you hike here, be on the watch for bicyclists as the designated BMX area is popular with locals. Much of the Talbert Nature Preserve's habitat is being restored, as indicated by signs and temporary orange fencing. It is great to see the restoration and the park will look better when the habitat restoration is complete because the orange fencing will be taken down.

The Talbert Nature Preserve is divided into six separate plant groups, identified as "zones" and based upon the progression of plant groups and changing conditions found along the Santa Ana River. The first zone is designated "Intensive Use Area" and the plant material has been selected based on use instead of its origins on the site. The second zone, a "Border Planting" zone is planted with vegetation designed to maintain boundaries and screen the embankment of the Greenville-Banning Channel. Another zone, the "Coastal Strand" consists of gentle slopes and dunes, a habitat largely destroyed by the advance of civilization in the area. The "Native Grassland" zone is the largest zone in the park and provides opportunities for wildlife habitats. An "Alluvial Woodland" zone contains a wide variety of plant and animal life and is the most secluded area in the park. Finally, the "Wetland Zone" consists of the southern 14.8 acres of the park and contains elements of riparian woodland and mulefat scrub.

Ashley and I enjoyed our hike at the Talbert Nature Preserve. If you are looking for a true secluded wilderness feel, this hike is probably not for you. The only down side of the park was that there was a fair amount of litter on a couple of the trails. When you go hiking here, bring a bag and help pick up some of the trash that others carelessly leave behind. This is an Orange County hike the whole family can do together.

Rating: Elevation Gain: < 100 ft. (Easy), Distance: 2.2 Miles Roundtrip (Easy).

Time to Complete Hike: 1 - 1.5 hours.


Talbert Nature Preserve (This Post)

View Talbert Nature Preserve Via Canyon Community Park in a larger map


  1. My father farmed this land back in the 1960's. He raised lima beans. I remember going out to the farm with him when I was as young as 8. We would trap squirrels and rabbits that ate the crops. The most fertile area of the land was where the pond now sits. Also, the far south corner near the homes was a very productive area. How I wish I could relive those days. I'm so happy to see that the land was never developed and remains in it's natural state. I visit whenever I return to CA and walk where I played as a young boy with my 2 brothers.


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