Run/Bike/Hike Trails Photo
 
 

Directions to Park

There are a number of entrances to the park depending on what areas of the park you plan to visit. 

There is ample parking at the start of the Borrego Trail (including near-by stopping center), however, for those on bikes, Borrego in one-way only and you will have to bike back to this location via another trail.

The other main entrance is off of Glenn Ranch Road which offers tons of parking.

By expanding the Google Trail map on the right you can easily ascertain the best way depending on your location.

Parking
The parking fee is a reasonable $3. There are 2 primary parking areas; the one on Portola (entrance to Borrego Trail) and the other at the other on Glenn Ranch Road (see the Staging Areas on the right).

There are a number of other ways to enter the park from residential neighborhoods.

Park Hours
7:00 am to sunset.

Dogs
Dogs are NOT allowed in the the park.

Facilities
There are restrooms at the Staging Areas.  Water fountains can be found at the Borrego Trail entrance and within the park at the 4 Corners junction.

Mountain Lions
While all of the southern California parks are wild, Whiting has seen more mountain lions than most.  Sadly, there is a memorial bench to Mark Reynolds, a mountain biker, who was killed by a mountain lion in 2004.  Whiting was briefly closed in 2012 because of mountain lion sightings.  Stay alert.

Newsletter
Click here to sign-up for our free monthly newsletter. It's filled with all sorts of cool info including upcoming events and the latest in running/biking/hiking news.

Help Support Us
By clicking on our sponsor sites you will help support the maintenance of this site.  Thank you.

Facebook

 

Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park

Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is an expansive park with something for everyone.  It offers plenty of serene oak/sycamore filled canyons, hilltops with outstanding views, windy single-track trails, Red Rock Canyon, and finally, it even has a water fountain at a key junctionWhiting Ranch (4 Corners).

Whiting Ranch is also very popular.  It is one of the few parks that attracts all three groups (runners, mountain bikers, and hikers) in large numbers.

There a number of ways to enter Whiting Ranch and there is ample parking. The park can be quite crowded on weekends especially along the Borrego Trail which is the most scenic and popular trail in the park.

The following map is provided by OC Parks:
Whiting Ranch Click here to download map.
 

I've noted two trails which I think are noteworthy and which cover the majority of the park ... Borrego Trail to Vista Lookout and the Whiting Ranch Loop.  In addition, I've noted two relatively short excursions; one to Red Rock Canyon which showcases the most interesting rock formation in Orange County and the other along Billy Goat Trail which is an often steep hiking only trail:

Trail Info...
Trail Name Distance Elevation Gain Difficulty
Borrego Trail to Vista Lookout 5.1 miles 1,000' Moderate
Whiting Ranch Loop 5.2 miles 1,100' Moderate
Red Rock Canyon Excursion 1.2 miles 200' Easy
Billy Goat Trail Excursion 1.4 miles 600' Moderate

Trails and Map


Borrego Trail to Vista Lookout and Back (5.1 miles)
--  ThisBorrego Trail moderate course starts off on the very pleasant Borrego Trail and takes you to the top of the Vista Lookout which is at 1,500 feet.  The Borrego Trail begins at the Portola Parkway entrance.  This trail is very popular with everyone: runners, mountain bikers and hikers.  For those on bikes, Borrego Trail is one-way only (going out); you'll need to plan accordingly if you plan to park at the entrance.  The Borrego Runners along Borrego TrailTrail meanders for 1.5 miles along the canyon floor with little in the way of elevation gain.  Most of the trail is covered offering plenty of shade and solitude (except for the steady stream of bikers).  The twisting, scenic trail is also a great place to run.  When you reach the junction with Borrego TrailMustard Trail proceed for another 100 feet or so until you get to Cattle Pond Trail.  This short stretch (0.3 miles) is particularly popular with bikers ... so much so, hikers will find themselves often having to get out of the way along the narrow single-track.  At the end of this short loop (by the way if there is a pond, Mustard TrailI didn't see it) turn right on Mustard Trail.  The topography changes almost immediately as you climb steadily uphill towards Vista Lookout. There is a complete absence of trees and this portion of the trail is seldom used.   After a half mile you'll turn right and head up the remaining 0.3 miles to View of SaddlebackVista Outlook which is at an elevation of 1,500 feet.  The views from the top are certainly worth the trip.  From one direction there are great views of Lake Forest and Irvine and in the other direction views of the Santa Ana Mountains.   Recent fires stripped most of the hill of trees but at the top there are a few survivors which offer a bit of shade and someone(s) hauled a picnic table up there as well.  On the return trip there just head back down and forgo the Cattle Pond trail. For a pictorial presentation of this course click here.

Trail Name Distance (miles)
Borrego Trail 1.5
Cattle Pond 0.3
Mustard Trail between Cattle Pond and Outlook Rd. 0.5
Vista Outlook Road 0.3


Whiting Ranch Loop (5.2 miles) --  This route starts at the Glenn Ranch Road parking lot and Serrano Trailimmediately proceeds up Coyote Brush Road.  The trail merges with Line Shack after 0.8 miles.  This initial stretch is typical fire-road and is rather uninspiring.  However, the scenery changes quickly as you descend towards the Serrano Cow Trail.  You quickly become engulfed in over hanging oaks; signs of the 2007 Santiago Fire are Sleepy Hollownumerous as half-charred trees exist among those that were somehow spared.  Further down the trail you enter Sleepy Hollow Canyon which is aptly named.  This serene trail meanders among many charred remains giving the area a bit of a mystical feel.  A very cool place early in the morning.  Shortly after leaving Sleepy Hollow the trail merges with Santiago Cactus Hill TrailRanch Road; turn left and head towards Cactus Hill Road.  This combined stretch is more in the open and proceeds uphill towards 4 Corners.  Cactuses line the trail and there a good views of the surrounding hills including the aptly named Dreaded Hill on the left.  The 4 Corners junction is a good4 Corners place to rest and refill any water bottles you may have.  From here you have numerous options; you can take Mustard which will take you down to Borrego Canyon or you can head off in the direction of Billy Goat Trail (closed to bikers).  However, we're going to up towards the View of 4 Cornerspeak of Dreaded Hill which has an elevation of 1,650 feet.  The climb isn't really all that difficult especially coming from this direction where you have already climbed steadily by the time you reached 4 Corners.  The climb is much more strenuous if you do this course in reverse.  The views from the top are terrific especially those looking down towards 4 Corners Dreaded Hilland the Santa Ana Mountains.  On a more somber note, at the peak is a memorial bench dedicated to Mark Reynolds who was killed by a mountain lion back in 2004.  A reminder to always stay alert.  The trip down is fire-road, somewhat steep, and kind of bland; you'll be happy to enter Live Oaks Trailthe confines of another oak filled canyon, specifically Live Oaks Trail.  The Serrano/Live Oaks/Raptor trails are much more popular, especially with bikers and the shade is a nice reprieve from the exposed  descent.  From here it is a relatively short distance back to the parking lot. For a pictorial presentation of this course click here.


Trail Name Distance (miles)
Coyote Brush Road 0.8
Line Shack - from Coyote Brush to Serrano Rd 0.4
Whiting Rd - from Serrano Cow to Sleepy Hollow 0.4
Sleep Hollow Trail 0.3
Santiago Ranch Rd - from Sleepy Hollow to Cactus Hill 0.2
Cactus Hill 0.6
Water Tank - from 4 Corners to Dreaded Hill 0.3
Dreaded Hill 1.2
Serrano - from Dreaded Hill to Live Oaks 0.3
Live Oaks Trail 0.4
Raptor - from Live Oaks to Parking Lot 0.3

Red Rock Canyon Excursion (1.2 miles round-trip) --  Red Rock Canyon is one of the more notable geographic features in Orange County; a narrow ravine Red Rock Canyon Trailof eroding sandstone cliffs...make this a worth-while visit.  For this excursion start at the end of Borrego Trail and continue right on Mustard Trail for 100 yards.  You'll see a couple of picnic tables and the sign for the Red Rock Canyon Trail.  The trail is 0.6 miles Red Rock Canyonand dead-ends at the end of the canyon; 1.2 miles round-trip.  The initial part of this trail is fairly wide-open and has a distinct desert feel; lots of chaparral and cactus.  As you progress along the trail...the canyon begins to narrow.  In  a little over a half mile you'll be surrounded by the red sandstone cliffs which I understand contain an assortment of fossils. For a pictorial presentation of this course click here.

Billy Goat Excursion Loop (1.4 miles) -- For those seeking a short hiking adventure...be sure to include the Billy Goat Trail.  This trail is aptly Billy Goat Trailnamed; it's often steep, narrow, with plenty of loose stones which can make navigating the trail a challenge.  Starting at 4 Corners head northwest along Whiting Spur Road.  At less than a quarter mile turn left on Billy Goat Trail.  The trail immediately plunges down a steep, sandy path where standing upright can be a challenge.  Billy Goat TrailThe entire stretch of Billy Goat Trail is only 0.7 miles but it dips deep into the canyon only to rise again.  I found the loose stones a bit harrowing on the steep descents; this is certainly a trail where you'll appreciate hiking sticks. During the first half of this hike the trail goes hops from one little peak to the next and it's in this section where most of the steep stuff is.  In the second half the trail flattens out before ultimately merging with Mustard Trail for the return trip to 4 Corners. For a pictorial presentation of this course click here.
 
Running
This park is a favorite with trail runners and for good reason.  TheRunning trails themselves are scenic without being overly hilly or steep.  Trails such as Borrego, Serrano, Serrano Cow, and Sleepy Hollow run along canyon floors with minimal elevation gain however, these same trails are also popular with bikers so be prepared to move out of the way.  It's easy to add mileage and elevation by adding trails such as Mustard, Cactus Hill or Whiting Road.  Having a water fountain at 4 Corners is a treat.

Biking
This park doesn't offer as much in the way of technical challenge or ball-busting hills asBiking found in Crystal Cove or Aliso/Wood Canyon.  But the meandering trails and scenery score these rides high on the fun factor which explains why the park is so popular with bikers.  The only real downside is Borrego Trail being limited to one-way for bikers (you can only go out on this trail you can't return).  If you park at the Borrego entrance you'll probably want to exit the park near the intersection of Portola and Glenn Ranch Road and the bike the short distance back to the parking lot.

Hiking
This is a popular place to hike especially along the numerous Hikingcanyon floors (Borrego, Serrano, Serrano Cow, and Sleepy Hollow).  These hikes are easy and a terrific place to take a pleasant stroll.  For those hikers looking for more there is the imposing Dreaded Hill which calls out just begging to be hiked and the and views from the top are certainly worth the effort.  A less popular hike is the Vista Lookout which also has some great views.   Both these hills fall into the moderate category and take about 2 to 3 hours.

Photo Gallery
Borrego Trail to Vista Lookout...
Click on the lower portion of the photo to start slideshow

Whiting Ranch Loop...
Click on the lower portion of the photo to start slideshow

Red Rock Canyon...
Click on the lower portion of the photo to start slideshow

Billy Goat Trail...
Click on the lower portion of the photo to start slideshow

More Info
For additional information...
OC Parks - Whiting Ranch Wilderness Parks


Tell Us What You Think







Copyright 2013 Run, Bike and Hike Trails, All Rights Reserved.