Quail Hill Loop
Recommended by: Lesley Bindloss, 57, who learned to love hiking in the French Alps. She hikes all over Southern California, and last year climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa.
Distance: 2 miles
Trail summary: A convenient, easy trail in an unexpectedly beautiful pocket of wilderness. This is my go-to trail when I’m short on time in a busy day but need to restore my calm.
Why you like it: It is a perfect way to “get away without leaving,” it’s a few minutes from the urban center of Irvine, yet an escape into wilderness.
Best time to hike it: Sunset, the golden hour.
“One of the best parts about living in Irvine is the wild open space areas at both ends of the city, as well as the network of trails across its length.”
Shady Canyon Trail
Recommended by: Randy Smith, lead organizer for “Sunrise to Sunset Hikers” — Meetup’s most popular hiking group. He’s led more than 1,300 hikes.
Distance: 5+ miles / 500 feet elevation
Trail summary: It provides a workout, with a comfortable, mid-hike rest at the Turtle Rock Community Center. We offer this hike as a Meetup on Thursday evenings.
Why you like it: It’s scenic and safe, with a choice of hard-packed dirt and paved surfaces.
Best time to hike: Mornings and evenings.
“One reason ‘Sunrise to Sunset Hikers’ is so popular is the rich resource of hiking alternatives available to us in our local communities.”
Limestone Canyon (to The Sinks)
Recommended by: Wendy Garcia, 49, a lifelong recreational hiker, who enjoys yoga and mountain biking.
Distance: About 9 miles, round trip
Trail summary: The trail meanders further away from Santiago Canyon Road and becomes quieter. The further you go, the more wild it becomes, with wooded areas of Coast Live Oaks, Sycamores, native plants and wildlife.
Why you’ll like it: It’s called the “Little Grand Canyon of Orange County” because of its sheer beauty. It’s magical. You hear harps, and see unicorns and rainbows, while you are there!
Best time to hike it: Sunrise or sunset.
“If I had an out-of-town guest and wanted to show off the best of Orange County, I would take them for a hike to The Sinks.”