dog friendly hikes orange county

21 Dog Friendly Hikes Orange County 2022

Do you want to start hiking with your dog but are unsure of the best dog friendly hikes Orange County? Or maybe you and your pup are experienced hikers, but you’re looking for a new trail to hit up.

Orange County is full of miles of hiking trails, but not all of them allow dogs. This article will highlight the best trails so you aren’t left wondering where to hike. 

Hiking with your dog offers many benefits for both you and your pup. Different surroundings will offer lots of new smells to mentally stimulate your dog. 

Hiking also provides opportunities to meet other dogs and pet owners, making it easy to socialize. You’ll find that hiking is a great way to bond with your dog while getting some good exercise.

WWB writer and dog-lover Michelle will guide you through all the best spots for you and your dog to hike in Orange County.

So, put on your hiking boots, grab a leash and some water and let’s hit the trails!

dog friendly hikes orange county

21 Best Dog Friendly Hikes Orange County

  • 1. Aliso Summit Trail
  • 2. Back Bay Loop
  • 3. Bedford Peak Trail 
  • 4. Black Star Canyon Falls Trail
  • 5. Carbon Canyon Nature Trail
  • 6. Chiquito Falls 
  • 7. Colinas Ridge Trail 
  • 8. Jeffrey Open Spaces Trail
  • 9. Las Ramblas
  • 10. Oso Creek Trail 
  • 11. Peters Canyon Hike
  • 12. Quail Loop Trail
  • 13. Rancho San Clemente Ridgeline Trail
  • 14. Salt Creek Trail
  • 15. San Clemente Beach Trail
  • 16. Shady Canyon Trail
  • 17. Sitton Peak 
  • 18. Top of the World Trail
  • 19. Turtle Rock Viewpoint Trail
  • 20. Weir Canyon Trail
  • 21. West Ridge Trail

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1. Aliso Summit Trail

dog friendly hikes orange county
Photo by Dave Palmer distributed under a CC BY 2.0 license

This dog friendly hikes orange county is a flat dirt trail except for one steep hill at the very end where you will be rewarded with a gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean and a cool ocean breeze. 

The majority of the trail runs along a suburb with extravagant houses on one side and Aliso and Wood Canyons Regional Park on the other side. 

There is limited shade so don’t forget to bring water for you and your dog!

Location: Laguna Niguel

Distance: 8.8 mi out & back

Difficulty: easy

Parking: free street parking on Ridgecrest Drive near Highlands Ave or on Pacific Island Drive by La Brise

Leash required: yes

2. Back Bay Loop

Photo by Ken Lund distributed under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license

This mostly-paved trail winds around Upper Newport Bay where you will be greeted with a cool breeze and surrounded by stunning vistas of the water. The highlight of this trail is the marshy preserve near the upper bay which resembles the Everglades.

The official trailhead starts at Back Bay Science Center, but it is only one of several entrances. Stop at the many points of interest along the way such as Bayview Park, Big Canyon Inlet, and Back Bay Lookout. 

Don’t worry if you don’t have time to complete the whole trail in one go! You can start at a different spot next time. 

Location: Newport Beach

Distance: 11.4 mi loop 

Difficulty: easy

Parking: free street parking on Back Bay Dr near the Science Center or in front of Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort

Leash required: yes

3. Bedford Peak Trail

One of the most challenging dog friendly hikes Orange County is Bedford Peak. This trail will get your heart pumping right from the start with steep switchbacks for about 2 miles until leveling out as you get closer to the peak. 

Your trek will be mostly uphill, but it will be worth it when you reach the summit and have a 360-degree view of Orange County. See if you can spot Mt. Baldy, Saddleback Mountain, and Catalina Island!

You’ll definitely want to wear your hiking boots to get traction on the rocky terrain. It’s also very windy at the top of the peak so make sure you pack a jacket! 

It’s best to go early in the morning to beat the heat and bring lots of water.

Location: Silverado

Distance: 7.3 mi out & back

Difficulty: hard

Parking: parking lot at Maple Springs Visitor Center inside the Cleveland National Forest. You will need to display an Adventure Pass or an America the Beautiful Pass or buy a day pass from the ranger.

Leash required: yes

4. Black Star Canyon Falls Trail

Photo by Dennis Rex distributed under a CC BY 2.0 license

Are you and your pup ready for an adventure? Then head to Cleveland National Forest! 

Start hiking along Black Star Canyon Road until you reach the Black Star Creek bed. This is where the fun begins! Forge your own path by scrambling over the rocks up the creek bed until you arrive at the waterfall. 

The best time to see the waterfall is after heavy rain. However, expect to only see a trickle during the summer. 

Since the rocks can be sharp, it would be a good idea to get some hiking booties to protect your dog’s paws. Small dogs might need to be carried over the rocks if they are not used to jumping. 

Location: Silverado

Distance: 6.7 mi out & back

Difficulty: hard

Parking: plenty of street parking on Black Star Canyon Rd

Leash required: yes

5. Carbon Canyon Nature Trail

dog friendly hikes orange county

Located in Carbon Canyon Regional Park, this dog friendly hikes orange county is a nature trail features a 4-acre lake and magnificent views of the towering Coastal Redwood trees. 

If you’ve been dying to see redwoods but haven’t made it up north yet, you’re in for a treat since this is home to the largest grove of redwoods in Southern California. 

The shady grove at the end of the trail is the perfect spot to take a break, let your dog cool off, and admire the trees. 

Location: Yorba Linda

Distance: 3.1 mi out and back

Difficulty: easy

Parking: requires a day-use fee or OC Parks Annual Parking Pass to enter Carbon Canyon Regional Park

Leash required: yes

6. Chiquito Falls 

This trail is home to not one, but two seasonal waterfalls: Chiquito Falls and San Juan Falls. San Juan is busier since it is close to the parking lot while Chiquito Falls is far less crowded. 

The only shade you will find on this trail is from the oak trees that line the canyon, so the rest of the trail gets sweltering hot in the summer months. 

Spring is the best time to see Chiquito Falls and the blooming wildflowers. 

Note that there can be rattlesnakes so be on the lookout. 

Location: Lake Elsinore

Distance: 9.1 mi loop

Difficulty: moderate

Parking: there is a parking lot at the trailhead across the street from Ortega Oaks Candy Store. You will need to display an Adventure Pass or an America the Beautiful Pass

Leash required: yes

7. Colinas Ridge Trail

This neighborhood trail runs along the Colinas Ridge in Laguna Niguel. It’s a great route for those near the area. You won’t be far from civilization since this trail runs behind a residential area, but you do get a glimpse of the ocean. 

The rolling hills will definitely give you a good workout, but it’s still doable for you and your pup. 

Location: Laguna Niguel

Distance: 4.2 mi out & back

Difficulty: moderate

Parking: street parking on Camino Los Padres near Golden Lantern

Leash required: yes

8. Jeffrey Open Spaces Trail

If you’re looking for more of a leisurely stroll, this family-friendly trail would be perfect. The expansive grounds are well maintained and beautifully landscaped. 

Your dog will love sniffing around all the grassy areas, which also makes a great place to have a picnic. 

Location: Irvine

Distance: 5.4 mi loop

Difficulty: easy

Parking: free parking at Cypress Community Park

Leash required: yes

9. Las Ramblas & Harbor View Trail

Las Ramblas is a great beginner hike with rolling hills. The inclines aren’t too challenging and the payoff is a panoramic view of the ocean. 

You’ll know you made it to the top when you reach the flagpole. This is a peaceful spot to watch the sunrise or sunset with your furry friend. 

Location: San Clemente

Distance: 2.3 mi out & back

Difficulty: easy

Parking: free street parking

Leash required: yes

10. Oso Creek Trail 

Photo by Nandaro, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Escape the sounds of the city on this peaceful walk along a flowing creek. The sound of the bubbling creek will relax you and get you into the right state of mind.

This easy hike has two sections: the lower part of the trail is pretty flat and paved while the upper part is hilly and more rugged. 

In this hidden gem, you will also find a unique hedge maze and a mosaic wall. 

Location: Mission Viejo

Distance: 3.2 mi loop

Difficulty: easy

Parking: free parking at the Oso Viejo Community Park

Leash required: yes

11. Peters Canyon Loop Trail

dog friendly hikes orange county
Photo by Nandaro, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This moderate loop is very popular since it is right in the heart of Orange County. Located inside Peters Canyon Regional Park, you will encounter some challenging hills to get your blood pumping.

The best part of this trail is the scenic view of the San Bernardino mountains and, on a clear day, even Catalina Island. 

Arrive early to avoid the crowds and to find a parking spot. 

Location: Tustin

Distance: 5.9 mi loop

Difficulty: moderate

Parking: gravel parking lot for $3 on the north end or free street parking on Peters Canyon Road (be sure to read the signs to avoid a parking ticket)

Leash required: yes

12. Quail Loop Trail

Photo by Tiffany Wu distributed under a CC BY 2.0 license

If you are short on time, this quick beginner hike won’t be difficult to fit into your schedule. This popular trail is located in Quail Hill Open Space Preserve and is super easy to follow.

As you walk along the trail, you will find interpretive audio markers to get more information about the immediate landscape and local wildlife. See if you can spot any roadrunners or quail!

On your way back you’ll have a great view of Saddleback Mountain from afar. 

Location: Irvine

Distance: 1.8 mi loop

Difficulty: easy

Parking: small parking lot at the trailhead or large parking lot at Quail Hill Community Center

Leash required: yes

13. Rancho San Clemente Ridgeline Trail

This intermediate hike has two main access points. The more lengthy version starts in a subdivision off Avenida Salvador while the condensed path starts at Richard T. Steed Memorial Park.  

Both trailheads lead to a lookout point at Knob Hill where you’ll get incredible views of San Clemente and Dana Point on a clear day. Sit on one of the benches to take in the sights. 

Since this hike has several steep hills, you and your dog will get a great cardio workout. 

Location: San Clemente

Distance: 5.7 mi out & back if starting at Salvador trailhead or ~3 mi out & back if starting at Richard T. Steed Memorial Park

Difficulty: moderate 

Parking: free street parking on Salvador Rd or at Richard T. Steed Memorial Park

Leash required: yes

14. Salt Creek Trail

Photo by bfick distributed under a CC BY 2.0 license

The trail begins at Chapparosa Park and leads all the way to Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point. 

Enjoy a steady, but long stroll along Salt Creek until you reach the beach. While the actual beach is not dog-friendly, there is a grassy park overlooking the ocean for you and your pup to relax before heading back. 

Location: Dana Point

Distance: 7.6 mi out & back

Difficulty: easy

Parking: parking lot at Chapparosa Park

Leash required: yes

15. San Clemente Beach Trail

dog friendly hikes orange county

Since Orange County is known for its pristine beaches, why not head to San Clemente for a laid-back stroll right along the coast? 

The cool ocean breeze and gorgeous views make this an invigorating trail for you and your dog. Watch as your stress melts away as you listen to the relaxing waves.

You can start this beginner-friendly trail either at the San Clemente Pier or at Calafia Beach. Be sure to stick around and watch the sunset over the ocean. 

Location: San Clemente

Distance: 4.5 mi out & back

Difficulty: easy

Parking: San Clemente Pier Metrolink Parking Lot ($1.50 per hour 10 AM – 5 PM) or metered parking on Avenida Victoria or Calafia Beach parking lot ($1.50 per hour 9 AM – 6 PM)

Leash required: yes

16. Shady Canyon Trail

Located right off the 405, Shady Canyon shares the same trailhead as Quail Loop but provides a longer and more scenic route. It follows the length of Shady Canyon Dr and passes the Bommer Canyon Trailhead, which is unfortunately not dog-friendly. 

Luckily this suburban dirt trail runs along a separate paved bike path so you won’t need to watch out for incoming cyclists. 

Despite its name, Shady Canyon trail doesn’t provide much in the form of shade, but makes up for it with picturesque hillside views.  

Location: Irvine

Distance: 7.8 mi out & back

Difficulty: moderate

Parking: small parking lot at the trailhead or large parking lot at Quail Hill Community Center

Leash required: yes

17. Sitton Peak Truck Trail

dog friendly hikes orange county
Photo by Justin Meissen distributed under a CC BY-SA 2.0 lisence

If you and your pup are seasoned hikers, this is a great hike to test your skills away from all the crowds. 

At 3,273 feet tall, Sitton Peak stands among the heights of the Santa Ana Mountains near Lake Elsinore. It’s a moderate hike until you get to the last section which then becomes a steep climb to the top. Your efforts will be repaid with dramatic views of Orange County, San Diego County, and the ocean. 

Note that the summer months make bringing extra water a necessity, so make sure to bring enough for you and your pup.

Location: Lake Elsinore

Distance: 10 miles out & back

Difficulty: hard

Parking: San Juan Loop parking lot across from the Ortega Oaks Candy Store.  You will need to display an Adventure Pass or buy a daily pass at the candy store.

Leash required: yes

18. Top of the World Trail

dog friendly hikes orange county
Photo by Chris Kuga distributed under a CC BY 2.0 license

One of the most trafficked dog-friendly hiking trails in Orange County is Top of the World, and for good reason. 

There are two ways to access the Top of the World Viewpoint. If you want a more strenuous hike, you should take the Canyon Acres Trail. If you’re looking for a shorter, straight-forward hike to the top, then start at Alta Laguna Park. 

Whichever path you choose, waiting at the summit is a 360-degree view of Catalina Island, Santiago Peak, and the shimmering Pacific Ocean.

Location: Laguna Beach

Distance: 2.4 mi out & back

Difficulty: moderate

Parking: free street parking on Canyon Acres Drive for the longer hike or park at Alta Laguna Park for the shorter hike (street parking at the trailhead is for residents only) 

Leash required: yes

19. Turtle Rock Trail

dog friendly hikes orange county
Photo by Sergei Gussev distributed under a CC BY 2.0 license

Tucked away in the suburbs of Irvine is this short and slightly challenging hike.  

Starting out in Chaparral Park, you’ll climb a few flights of stairs. Then you’ll begin your ascent up the hill to Turtle Rock Viewpoint where you’ll have a perfect vantage of the valley and ocean. 

Continuing forward, you’ll find parks dotted along the route, perfect spots for your dog to cool down. 

Location: Irvine

Distance: 1.6 mi out & back

Difficulty: moderate

Parking: free street parking in front of Chaparral Park

Leash required: yes

20. Weir Canyon Trail

dog friendly hikes orange county
Photo by OCParks_CA distributed under a CC BY-ND 2.0 license

Located in Santiago Oaks Regional Park, you will find another dog-friendly hike known as Weir Canyon Trail. 

Starting out at the foothills of the Santa Ana mountains, you will trek through rolling hills as you leave suburbia behind. Soon enough, you will be surrounded by stunning panoramic mountain views. 

In the spring, the scenery is lush and full of wildflowers like the California poppy. Be sure to arrive early in the summer to avoid the heat. 

Location: Anaheim

Distance: 3.6 mi loop

Difficulty: moderate

Parking: free street parking on South Hidden Canyon Rd

Leash required: yes

21. West Ridge Trail

This gorgeous trail runs north and south between Canyon View Park and Top of the World. There are a couple of steep hills along the way but there are also several scenic areas to stop and rest. 

As you gain elevation, you get access to sweeping views of the surrounding area and out to the ocean. 

Like a river, it has many branching paths that connect to this trail like Mathis Canyon Trail and Rock-It Trail. 

Location: Aliso Viejo

Distance: 4.5 mi out & back

Difficulty: moderate

Parking: street parking on Holly Leaf Rd (if starting from the north) or park at Alta Laguna Park (if starting from the south)

Leash required: yes

FAQ: Dog Friendly Hikes Orange County

Is Laguna Beach Cliff Hike Dog-Friendly?

YES, Laguna Beach Cliff hike is dog friendly! Located in the beautiful waterfront Heisler Park is this dog-friendly trail that runs along Cliff Drive to Aster Street. There are gorgeous views the whole way, picnic areas, and gardens, making this the perfect spot to spend a relaxing afternoon with your pooch.

Are Dogs Allowed on Point Bonita Trail?

No pets are allowed on Point Bonita Trail. 

Dog Friendly Hikes Orange County : Is La Jolla Trail a Dog-friendly hike?

Dogs are allowed on the La Jolla Trail, but it is a difficult and slippery trail so use extreme caution. La Jolla Trail (also known as Saigon Trail) leads to a beach that is unfortunately not dog friendly. 

Can I Take My Dog on a 20-Mile Hike?

dog friendly hikes orange county

It depends on your dog’s age, fitness level, and breed. Young puppies and senior dogs might not have the energy to hike that long, but an active dog could if you gradually work your way up to 20 miles.

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Conclusion 

As you can see, there are plenty of dog-friendly hikes in Orange County to enjoy. Some offer leisurely strolls with beautiful sights and others are a tough, but rewarding challenge. No matter which trail you choose, you won’t be disappointed!

This is your opportunity to take advantage of the beautiful SoCal weather and get outdoors with your furry friend. Your dog will love getting some fresh air and exploring new trails. 

Remember to keep your dog on a leash and clean up after them. It would also be smart to pack a collapsible water bowl for your dog because a lot of the trails have limited shade. Finally, don’t forget to pack your dog’s favorite treats as a reward for completing the hike.

Which trail are you planning to hike first? Leave a comment below!

21 Dog Friendly Hikes Orange County

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