5 Kid-Friendly Hiking Trails in Orange County

As we all know, the school week is exhausting. After work, school, homework, sports, and extracurricular activities, things get hectic, and everyone is tired by the time Friday rolls around. That’s why it’s important to have some much needed, and deserved, family time — away from screens, where you can connect and unwind. What better way to connect than through nature and some light exercise? There are many local hiking trails that offer opportunities for some family-friendly adventures.

Peters Canyon

View from a high point in Peters Canyon

Peters Canyon sits at the cross streets of Jamboree and Canyon View in Orange. It’s home to the infamous hill known as “Big Red” and miles of easy to moderate trails. Because of the recent fires, some of the small trails are closed for recovery, but you’ll still find plenty of hikes to enjoy with the family. On a clear day, you can see out to the Pacific Ocean from the highest point. Peters Canyon provides excellent opportunities to teach children about indigenous plant and wildlife.

Santiago Oaks Regional Park

If your family is interested in something a little different from Peters Canyon, head up to Santiago Oaks Regional Park. Again, some trails may still be closed for fire recovery, but there is still plenty to see here. On any given day, you may encounter mountain bikers, trail runners, hikers, and equestrians. The natural beauty of the park is what causes so many people and animals to flock here. One trail has a fun creek crossing with man-made stones for you and your loved ones to hop, skip, jump, or walk across.

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park spans across nearly 7,000 acres. And, for good reason, it is preserved to protect rare and endangered species like the California Gnatcatcher and Orange-Throated Whiptail. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park has more than 40 miles of trails to keep you and your family busy for countless hours. Just remember to bring plenty of sun protection and water, as it can get quite hot despite it being next to the coast.

Crystal Cove State Park

Hiking trail at Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park can keep you and your family busy for an entire week — or just a day if that’s all you have. With camping options available, you can stay the night to enjoy a day of hiking on Saturday and a day of lounging on the beach on Sunday. Choose your trails carefully here — they can vary between short and easy to long and strenuous. Whether you opt to explore the lower or higher trails, you’re guaranteed a reprieve from the hustle of city life simply by making a short drive from your garage.

Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve

Hiking trail winds along the marsh, where you may see wildlife

Home to the light-footed clapper rail, brown pelican, Belding’s Savannah sparrow, and a few other rare or endangered species, the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve is a preferred site for birdwatching. But what does that have to do with hiking, you may ask? Imagine you’re hiking with your family and spot a sensitive species, a moment like that doesn’t come around often. And, to think, it happened just a quick drive from your home. Plus, the convenient location makes it a short drive to a delicious eatery of your choice!

With these five amazing outdoor destinations right in your backyard, decompressing with the family will be as easy as ever!

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