We’ve compiled a list of the best hiking destinations for you and your family near the Orange/Villa Park area. Taking into account scenery, walkability, and accessibility we’ve got a list of easy hikes for the whole family. Remember the sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, snacks, and lots of water!
Oak Canyon Nature Center
6700 E Walnut Canyon Road Anaheim, CA 92807
Oak Canyon Nature Center is a local family favorite. It was also threatened by the recent fires but managed to escape any major damage. The nature center is open on weekends from 10:00 a.m.to 4 p.m. but the trails are open daily. There are a variety of trails, so you can create your own experience from a short half mile out and back on the Main Road to a 2- or 3-mile hike covering all the trails. Families with little ones can stick to the Main Road and Stream Trails for a shady, 30-minute, easy hike with very little elevation change. For a little elevation, take the Bluebird Lane and Bluebird loop trails from the Main Road. You’ll remain mostly in the shade here. If you really want to add some elevation, take the moderate climb up to Roadrunner Ridge. You’ll be high above the shady canyon overlooking the stream. You’re in full sun for about a half mile up on Roadrunner Ridge and there are steep drops off the side. It’s a great hike but hold on to the littles’ hands. Older kids do great up here, and they love the cave in the rocks above the trail. Grab a trail map from the entrance to find it. Restrooms are available near the parking area.
Carbon Canyon Regional Park
4442 Carbon Canyon Road Brea, CA 92823
One of our favorite regional parks, Carbon Canyon features a 1.2-mile hike to a 3-acre grove of Coastal Redwood trees. The hike is mostly flat and easy for all ages. It only takes about 20 minutes to get to the redwoods from the nearest parking lot. Kids love running around under the trees so plan to spend a few minutes here at least. Head back the way you came or, if you want a longer hike, you can extend it on the way back by following the dirt path along the Carbon Creek Nature Trail. This will take you to the native garden and will add another 30 minutes to an hour to your hike. Loop back on the paved paths through the park or turn around and head back the way you came. All trails here are flat and easy. If you loop back through the main park, the kids will enjoy stopping to play at one of the many playgrounds. Restrooms are available throughout the park.
Borrego Parking Lot: 26701 Portola Parkway Foothill Ranch, CA 92610
Whiting Ranch to Red Rock Canyon is a great family hike for families with a little more experience. If you’re used to hitting the trails and are looking for some distance and difficulty, this one’s for you. It’s just shy of 4 miles round trip and will take at least two hours. Added length will depend on how much time you spend at the rocks. Start at the Borrego parking lot and make the steady, easy climb up the 1.3-mile Borrego trail. Take the Mustard Road trail to the right and then a quick left up the hill. Pass the Cattle Pond Loop trail and you’ll see the Red Rock Canyon trail. Follow Red Rock Canyon trail for a half mile into a beautiful, red canyon of rock formations. This portion of the trail is difficult and rocky, but worth the effort. The kids will definitely want to do some climbing here. When you’ve had your fill of the scenery, head back the way you came. Pack snacks and plenty of water for this hike. You’ll get shade and full sun here. Porta-potties are located at the trail head near the parking lot. Make your way into the shopping center to find restrooms if you need them.
1900 Associated Rd, Fullerton, CA 92831
This is more of a leisurely stroll than a hike, but it’s perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. Even the older kids will find something they love. Plan to spend at least an hour walking around here. The Fullerton Arboretum, located next to Cal State Fullerton, features different habitats including forest, desert, and Mediterranean. There’s a stream, a lake, towering trees, and a children’s garden. There’s something for everyone on this flat, easy walk through the arboretum. Parking is free but please make a donation at the entrance. Restrooms are available near the nature center.
Temporarily off the list…
Santiago Oaks Regional Park
2145 Windes Dr, Orange, CA 92869
The fire at the end of 2017 did major damage to some of the favorite local hiking spots. Some of the trails have reopened at Santiago Oaks Regional Park (a local gem), but most of the fun family trails are still closed to the public for fire recovery. Once these trails re-open we’d highly recommend a family hike.