Try this Portola Springs hike at sunset

Tomato Springs Trail, in the Village of Portola Springs, is an easy hike, and it’s a perfect spot to watch the sun set.

My friend Kelly and I recently took time away from our kids to explore a new destination, get some fresh air and chat. We had no idea we’d discover such a gem in the Tomato Springs Trail. Its gentle, meandering paths and gorgeous views overlooking Irvine made it the perfect outing for us to catch up and reset.

Nestled in the Village of Portola Springs, Tomato Springs Trail is the perfect first step for aspiring hikers. For busy parents like Kelly and me, it is just enough of an uphill challenge and natural terrain to be interesting, while still leaving us enough energy to put our mom faces back on when we return home. Some parts are paved with signs and bridges (to avoid crossing streets), while the unpaved segments are still well worn and clearly marked.

Views to Catalina

Despite savoring our own little recess away from the children, we couldn’t help but echo to each other how much the kids would enjoy this area. The main trail has several short offshoots that lead up to simple vantage points, and even a few historical sites, perfect for older siblings who might want to demonstrate their independence ahead of the group. We laughed as we swapped stories of our kids’ burgeoning personalities and how similar life is in our very different households.

My favorite part of this trip is the hilltop where explorer Gaspar de Portola camped while exploring California more than 250 years ago. The path up overlooks a wooded valley and Portola Springs Elementary. On top, there’s a monument and circular platform that creates the most peaceful spot to watch the sun set over Irvine, with views of Catalina Island in the distance.

Irvine’s unique trails

As tempted as I am to set up a treadmill desk at home, I know that it pales in comparison to heading outside to all the unique trails close to home, especially with friends. Tomato Springs is one of many trails I’ve recently discovered, and it is the perfect destination to reset and recharge with a fellow mom or head out and explore safely with the kids.

To visit: Limited parking is available at the end of Desert Bloom or along Tomato Springs street.

From the top of Tomato Springs Trail, you can look out over Irvine and see clear to Catalina Island.

Know your hometown

If you reside within the villages of Orchard Hills, Eastwood, Cypress, Woodbury, Stonegate or Portola Springs, you are in the Northern Sphere of the Irvine Master Plan.

This planning area covers approximately 8,000 acres – nearly 60% of which is preserved as open space. Today, it includes 60 parks, seven schools and 550,000 square feet of community and neighborhood retail space. The Jeffrey Open Space Trail was designed with community input and links multiple villages.


In addition to Tomato Springs, try out these other local hikes: