Irvine’s Quail Trail has been named Orange County’s best hiking trail by Vacation Idea magazine.
The trail leads deep into the largest urban open-space network in America, bringing hikers all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
Along the way, it crests Serrano Ridge, offering views clear to Palos Verdes, before dropping into Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and Crystal Cove.
It is one of three scenic trails that begin at the Quail Hill Trailhead, located off Shady Canyon Drive just off the 405 Freeway. All three trails are part of the 16,500 acres of open space protected forever in the city of Irvine, a full one-third of the city.
They offer hikes for every taste, from beginner to expert. And after recent rains, they offer some of the greenest hillsides seen in years. Now is the time to try any of these hikes.
1. Quail Hill Loop Trail: This easy 1.8-mile trail circles the native grassland of Quail Hill with sweeping views of the city at Vista Point. Its modest incline makes it easy for children, joggers and dog owners (dogs are allowed, on leash) and makes it a fun lunchtime hike.
2. Shady Canyon Trail: This easy 2.8-miles trail skirts the Strawberry Farms Golf Course, crossing two pedestrian bridges and leading to the Bommer Canyon trailhead. From there, you also can hike to the ocean.
3. Quail Trail: OC’s No. 1 ranked trail is more strenuous. It gains 1,700 in elevation and connects with dozens of trails that traverse the San Joaquin Hills, home to one of the rarest ecosystems in the world. These trails offer commanding views of the Saddleback Valley, and lead to both Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and Crystal Cove State Park.
Vacation Idea Magazine named another Irvine Ranch trail – Black Star Canyon Trail – No. 7 on its list of the “25 Best Hiking Trails in Orange County.”
For more about the Quail Hill Trailhead and trails map, visit: letsgooutside.org/explore/quail-hill