Summary: A stunning obelisk dedicated to the native wildlife -- both living and extinct -- marks the beginning of this easy family hike that begins next to a shopping center. Though pressed in by recent subdivisions on two sides for the first three quarters of a mile, the feel is wilderness. Steep sandstone cliffs on either side widely separate condos from canyon. The hammering of acorn woodpeckers drown out city sounds. Gigantic live oaks hold up the sky and taller sycamores pierce it.
A footbridge shooting off the main trail on the left leads to the Red Rock trail, a scrubby bottomland. Sometimes the trail and the creek bed share space. You wind through narrowing arroyos to the modestly majestic Red Rock cliffs -- afavorite among local family hikers.
Dangers include direct sunlight along the Red Rock Trail, rattlesnakes,hives of wild bees in ancient oaks, poison oak, and mountain lions. WIth proper caution, this is a fine hike for children 12 and older.
Trailhead: From Interstate 5: Take Bake Parkway northeast towards the mountains. Continue 5 1/2 miles to Portola. At Portola, turn left. Proceed to the first stop sign and turn right and then left into the Whiting Ranch Wilderness parking lot. $2 parking fee.
Note: Bikes are only allowed to travel from the parking area to Mustard Road. All cyclists must return to the parking area by other routes. (Lat:33.681 Lon:-117.6632)
Trail Guides for Borrego Trail, Whiting Wilderness:
Afoot & Afield in Orange County
by Jerry Schad (Wilderness Press)
Best Easy Day Hikes Orange County
by Randy Vogel (Falcon Publishing Company)
Best Seasons: Year-Round
User Groups: Bikes, Horses,
Ranger Contact: Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, (949) 589-4729
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Joel Sax, who has posted 51 other hikes on this site. To visit this reporters web site, click here.
Trail Reviews Page 1 of 4 Submit your own review
Reviewed by Joel on 9/18/2013
The author speaking: Little has changed on this trail. The chaparral is growing back and the trail itself has been rerouted. There are a few spots where you can do a little impromptu canyoneering. Just watch out for snakes and loose stones in the bottoms.
Reviewed by Jen on 3/14/2012
I absolutely love this trail. We took the Borrego Trail to Red Rock trail and it was incredible how the trail went from forest to desert with actual RED rocks (which I had never seen in California) We saw tons of cool birds. These trails are full of squirrels and rabbits and you pretty much see them the entire time. There are a lot of mountain bikers, but they were all super nice to us. Anyway, great hike..We highly recommend it.
Reviewed by LadyJ on 12/3/2011
We took Borrego Trail then accidentally took Cattle Pond Loop and doubled back to Mustard Road at which point we decided to climb Mustard to Vista Lookout Trail then climbed that to the top. Even in late fall the scenery was gorgeous. By and large we found the mountain bikers to be friendly. They always thanked us when we stepped to the side of the trail to allow them to pass or otherwise greeting us with a friendly "good morning!" or "how are you doing?" when we passed them. Will definitely do this hike again and will likely check out the other trails that branch off of Borrego (Billy Goat, Red Rock, etc.). Great hike!
Reviewed by JimBo on 4/19/2011
This trail was closed due to the damage done by the winter storms of 2010-2011. Thankfully, it's open again. If you take this to the Red Rock Trail and follow it to the trail's end you'll be rewarded with a fine display of wildflowers.
Reviewed by David L. on 9/1/2010
Nice, easy-to-get to hike, good variety of scenery. I went yesterday and it was hot in the exposed areas but overall not too bad. We saw a family of deer (good area for wildlife). Check out my photos and trip report here.
Reviewed by SC on 3/27/2010
This park is open again since the fires a couple years ago. It is usually closed 3 days after heavy rain. I often see deers there & that's pretty cool.
Reviewed by Dallas on 4/26/2009
Arrived at the trail head around 2pm to find a beautifully clear day and cool temperatures. Borrego Trail portion was very nice, cool and plenty of spots to sit and enjoy a picnic if one were so inclined. This portion included many very small but active streams - so birds, lizards and bees were drinking. Upon reaching Mustard Trail/Road, we headed over to Red Rock Trail. The landscape on the trail almost immediately changes from the shady oak lined Borrego Trail to direct sun of a desert! The views of the Red Rock cliffs were nice, but the trail seems to abruptly end due to overgrowth, so we headed back and headed over to the Vista Trail which was much more strenuous but worth the effort.
Reviewed by Stacy on 3/21/2009
I solo hiked this trail this morning in an effort to break in a new backpack for summer in the Sierras. I chose this hike for the EASY access and trail rating. (First time on the trail with a 30lb pack!) Although it was overcast for most of the hike, it was beautiful. The recent rains have helped bring the color back to the area nicely after the fires. Red Rock Canyon was a bit surreal. It kind of makes you forget that you are in the OC! All in all, it was a great hike & I will do it again soon. Thanks for the info Joel!
Notice: Traveling in the backcountry can be hazardous. You are responsible for informing yourself about these hazards and taking necessary precautions. Information on this web site comes from volunteer reporters and may contain errors or omissions. A current guidebook and proper equipment are essential for safe enjoyment of the hikes posted on this site.
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