The Best Outdoor Activities in Orange County
Discover the best hiking, camping, backpacking, fitness, and more.
Swim at the Thousand Steps Pools
Orange County / Thousand Steps Beach
Driving down PCH southbound. Park at 9th street Laguna beach. You'l descend 219 stairs to be exact (feels like a 1,000). Once on the beach head to your left (south) until you come across a cave.
Exploring the Arches at Little Corona del Mar
Orange County / Little Corona del Mar Beach
Little Corona del Mar Beach is a secluded beach located on Poppy Avenue across Ocean Boulevard in Corona del Mar.
Explore Laguna Beach Caves
Orange County / Thousand Steps Beach
Explore some beautiful caves right on the beach in Laguna. The stairs leading down to the beach are just off the side of PCH at 9th st. You can park anywhere along the PCH on both sides near 9th st.
Exploring Pearl Street Beach's Arch Rock
Orange County / Pearl St. Beach
Pearl Street Beach is a great spot to just chill and watch (and photograph) the sunset with friends and family. Parking for the beach can be found on S. Coast Hwy (the 1) and is meter parking.
Bodysurf Thousand Steps Beach
Orange County / Thousand Steps Beach
Park at the intersection of Highway 1 and 9th Ave in Laguna Beach. Walk down the steps—there are more like 300 than 1000—and once you hit the beach, head south.
Catch a Sunset at Newport Pier
Orange County / Newport Pier
Newport Pier is located just south of Huntington Beach at the center of the Balboa Peninsula. Balboa Pier, the more crowded pier of Newport Beach, is nearby to the south.
Hiking Crystal Cove via the Loop Trail
Orange County / Loop Trail Trailhead
The trail begins and ends at the El Moro Visitor Center. Parking requires either a $15 day use parking pass, which is available in the visitor center.
Hike to Santiago Peak via Holy Jim
Orange County / Holy Jim Trail
When you think of Orange County, you think of beaches, boardwalks, but what you may not know is that there are some great hikes in our very own backyard! My favorite is a fairly strenuous day hiking.
Discover the Laguna Beach's La Tour
Orange County / La Tour
To find this little hidden treasure, put Victoria Beach into your phone as your destination and park for free on S Coast Highway anywhere between Sunset Terrace, McAulay Place, or Victoria Drive.
Explore the Seascape at Crescent Bay
Orange County / Crescent Bay
If you are in Southern California and want to find a good place to watch the sunset, this is the place.
Camping at Live Oak Grove
Orange County / Live Oak Grove Campground
Located within an hour's drive of Orange County and much of the Inland Empire, with dozens of trails winding through and above the beautiful and serene Bell Canyon.
Explore Tide Pools at Dana Point
Orange County / Ocean Institute
If you're ever driving on the 5 between San Diego and Los Angeles and traffic is miserable (always), consider making a stop at Dana Point to check out the tide pools.
Hike-in Primitive Camping at Crystal Cove SP
Orange County / El Moro Canyon Trailhead
Located off of Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach is Crystal Cove State Park. There are three primitive sites located in Crystal Cove: Deer Canyon, Upper Moro, and Lower Moro.
Camp at San Mateo Campground
Orange County / San Mateo Campground
San Onofre State Beach, best known for its famous surf breaks, additionally offers two well equipped campgrounds.
Boulder at Pirate's Cove
Orange County / Pirate's Cove, Newport Beach
This is a great spot for bouldering in Newport Beach, CA with really easy access from the parking lot at Big Corona Beach or street parking above on Ocean Blvd.
Photographing the Sun at Hilltop Park
Orange County / Hilltop Park
Hilltop Park is located in Signal Hill and offers an unmatched panoramic view of the Los Angeles Basin.
Hike the Hellman Park Trail
Orange County / Hellman Park Trail
This trail is great if you're looking for a quick, but intense workout. The hike itself is only 4 miles out- and-back and can be easily completed within a couple of hours.
Enjoy a Sunset Run at Crystal Cove
Orange County / Crystal Cove SP
This is a favorite evening run. Park in the lot with a state pass, head down the cliff and back, and you'll get an amazing workout. Tip: Time your runs at low tide.
Bodysurfing and Photography at The Wedge
Orange County / The Wedge
Beginning at the east end of the Balboa Peninsula The Wedge's main power house is the Newport Harbor Jetty. When the right south swell hits the jetty it reflects back creating a massive back wash.
Beach Day at San Onofre
Orange County / San Onofre
This spot is no secret but it’s by far one of the best beaches California has to offer and has been regarded since the 1950s as a friendly surfing sanctuary.
Hike to Aztec Falls
Orange County / Splinters Cabin Day Use Area
From Lake Arrowhead, take the 173 to Hook Creek Road until you dead end onto Squint Ranch Road. Take a right at the first fork in the road, and park in the lot for Splinters Cabin.
Hike to Holy Jim Falls
Orange County / Holy Jim Trail
To start, directions on how to get to the trail there are two different ways, the most common , which I will explain, being through Rancho Santa Margarita you will head east on Santa Margarita Parkwa.
Hike the Water Tank Trail
Orange County / Water Tank Road
There a numerous trails in the Laguna Coast Wilderness that proceed up and along the ridges and down into the canyons (or the reverse), and most are excellent for hiking, trail running, and mountain .
Spend a Day at the Huntington Beach Pier
Orange County / Huntington Beach Pier
The Huntington Beach Pier is a great spot for a multitude of activities. If you're looking to bodysurf, surf, swim, jog, or just chill, this is the spot for you.
Mountain Bike Car Wreck Trail through Aliso Canyon
Orange County / Car Wreck Trail
There are numerous ways to incorporate the Car Wreck trail into a larger loop through the Laguna Coast Wilderness and Aliso Canyon Park, but a common route is to begin at Alta Laguna Park at "Top of .
Catch a Sunset at Sunset Beach in CA
Orange County / Sunset Beach (Anderson Street)
Sunset Beach is located just 9 miles south of Long Beach and 6 miles North of Huntington Beach, CA on the famous Pacific Coast Highway 1. I accessed Sunset Beach from the South on I-405.
Blackstar Canyon Falls
Orange County / Blackstar Canyon Trailhead
Waterfalls in Orange County are far and few between, with the best lying near and inside the Cleveland National Forest.
Backcountry Camp in Joshua Tree
Orange County / Twin Tanks Backcountry Station
Backcountry camping can be done at various locations throughout the park (13 different locations).
Hike to Dripping Cave in the Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness
Orange County / Aliso and Wood Canyon Wilderness Park
Dripping Cave sits tucked away in a corner of Wood Canyon, part of the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, and the trail to the cave, while short, requires *at least* a 2.
Ride the San Juan Trail
Orange County / Blue Jay Campground
The San Juan Trail is located off the Ortega Highway (Hwy 74) in Southern Orange County. It is done frequently as a long, 11 mile climb that is rewarded by an almost continuous descent of 3400ft.
Kayak the Laguna Beach State Marine Preserve
Orange County / Fisherman's Cove, Laguna Beach
Whether you're a beginning, intermediate, or advanced paddler, there are numerous ways to explore via sea kayak the protected waters off the coast of Laguna Beach.
Stand Up Paddle Dana Point Harbor
Orange County / Dana Point Harbor
Whether I’m looking for a quick workout on the water, wanting to catch some waves, or simply explore the coastline, Dana Point is one of my favorite places to paddle.
Stand Up Paddle (SUP) in Huntington Harbor
Orange County / Huntington Harbor
Huntington Harbor is the perfect location for an easy and relaxing stand up paddle board session.
Trail Run the Boat Road and Laguna Ridge
Orange County / Spur Ridge Trailhead
There a numerous trails in the Laguna Coast Wilderness that proceed up and along the ridges and down into the canyons (or the reverse), and most are excellent for trail running, hiking, and mountain .
Hike Willow Canyon, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
Orange County / Willow Staging Area
This hike has been a must do since I was young.
Hike the Cougar Crest Trail
Orange County / Cougar Crest Trailhead
On the north side of Big Bear Lake, just off the 38, you will find a turn off for the Cougar Crest Trail. The parking lot is well marked, and signs for the trailhead are easy to spot.
Hike the Dreaded Hill Loop in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park
Orange County / Dreaded Hill Loop Parking Lot
One of the great things about Whiting Ranch is the trail system branches off and reconnects in several places, so you can make your adventure as long or as short as you like.
Climb Aliso Peak via the Valido Trail
Orange County / Valido Trail
The Valido Trail trailhead can be found just off West street off the Pacific Coast Highway, just south of Aliso Beach. Park on West Street past the trailhead. The trail proceeds approximate .
Hike the Hidden Valley Nature Trail
Orange County / Hidden Valley Nature Trail
Turn off of Park Blvd near Intersection Rock (there will be signs for the turn) and follow the paved road for about a minute. There is a large parking lot with many picnic tables.
Mountain Bike Bommer Ridge & Emerald Canyon
Orange County / Emerald Canyon Road
There a numerous trails in the Laguna Coast Wilderness that proceed up and along the ridges and down into the canyons (or the reverse), and are quite popular for mountain biking, hiking, and trail ru.
Visit Historic Pioneertown
Orange County / Pioneertown
Here in California we have a lot of desert to sift through. When trying to figure out how to navigate the mass, you have to know the places worth fighting the brutal heat or chilling cold.
Hike the B.F.I. Trail in Crystal Cove State Park
Orange County / B.F.I.
To get to the trailhead, enter Crystal Cove State Park through the Crystal Cove El Moro Campground entrance immediately next to El Moro Elementary School.
Hike Borrego Canyon to Red Rock Canyon Trails
Orange County / Borrego Canyon Trail Head
Just south east of the city of Irvine, on the southern end of Orange County, is the scenic Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park.
Watch the Sunset from Echo Rock
Orange County / Echo Rock Parking
Park your car at the Echo Rock Parking Area. The trail starts next to the outhouse and heads north.
Hike the Split Rock Trail
Orange County / Split Rock Trail
From Park Blvd you'll turn off onto a dirt road labelled with signs for Split Rock. At the end of the road there is a round about with parking and picnic tables.
Backpack the California Riding and Hiking Trail in Joshua Tree
Orange County / Black Rock Campground
The starting point for this hike is at the Black Rock campground, 5 miles from the town of Yucca Valley. You'll need to self register for a free backcountry permit before starting.
Off-Road Jacoby Canyon
Orange County / Jacoby Canyon Trailhead
This is now my favorite trail in the San Bernardino National Forest.
Camp at Holcomb Valley Campground
Orange County / Holcomb Valley Campground
This campground is awesome! With great views, plenty of space and clean bathrooms it'll have you in for a treat! Whether it be a multiple day trip or just one night this campground is awesome.
Climb at Intersection Rock in Joshua Tree
Orange County / Intersection Rock Parking Lot
Intersection Rock is located in the Hidden Valley Campground with lots of parking! Overhang bypass route5.
Rock Climb at Headstone Rock in Joshua Tree
Orange County / Headstone Rock
To find this climb, park on the east side loop of the Ryan Campground in the park. There are several parking spots here next to a bathroom.
Photograph the Pacific Coast Highway over Crystal Cove Beach
Orange County / Pacific Coast Highway Turnoff
To get to the bluffs overlooking Crystal Cove State Park Beach to the south, you'll need to pull off onto the side of the Pacific Coast Highway *before* Morro Ridge Road.
Hike the Quail Hill Loop
Orange County / Quail Hill Trailhead
The Quail Hill loop is a short and easily accessible hike in the Irvine Open Space Preserve. This makes it a great place to escape for a quick sunset hike after work, or at the end of a busy weekend.
Snowshoe to Grand View Point
Orange County / Aspen Glen Picnic Area
Grand View Point is accessed via Pine Knot Trail, a 6.5 mile out and back hiking trail located at the Aspen Glen Picnic Area, 1 mile from Big Bear Village.
Run the Carriage Trail
Orange County / Carriage Trail
There is room to park just off San Timoteo Road. On the other side of the trail is more parking off Alessandro. You can park your car on either side and start your run/walk/bike ride.
Relax on Eureka Peak
Orange County / Eureka Peak
Accessing Covington Flats in Joshua Tree National Park requires a high ground-clearance overland vehicle. Bring spare water and emergency tools incase of a breakdown.
Hike the Covington Crest Trail
Orange County / Covington Crest Trail
Accessing Covington Flats in Joshua Tree National Park requires a high ground-clearance overland vehicle. In the summer months a standard car might make it to the parking lot after the 7.
Mountain Bike Bommer Ridge from the Pacific Ridge Trailhead
Orange County / Laguna Coast Wilderness, Pacific Ridge Trailhead
The Bommer Ridge West Trailhead aka The Pacific Ridge Trailhead begins at the edge of Ridge Park Road, overlooking CA State Highway 73, and marks the northwest entrance to the Laguna Coast Wilderness.
Surf Brooks Street Beach
Orange County / Brooks Street
Brooks Street Beach is just a couple of blocks off the Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach. Parking can be tricky, so be forewarned that you may need to walked a few blocks.
Photograph the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve
Orange County / Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve
The Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve is one of our favorite spots to capture the sunset against the backdrop of the Santa Anna Mountains.
Scramble Cornell Peak
Orange County / Palm Springs Aerial Tram
Entering Mt San Jacinto State Park via the Palm Springs Aerial Tram is one of the easiest ways to get into the wilderness area.
Explore Giant Rock
Orange County / Giant Rock CA
This is an adventure that my wife and me have been wanting to do for a while now. We finally decided to make the 30 minute journey out to Landers from Yucca Valley.
Catch a Sunset at Keys View in Joshua Tree NP
Orange County / Keys View, Joshua Tree
This is a great place to watch the sunset, perched on the crest of the Little San Bernardino Mountains, provides panoramic views of the Coachella Valley and is well worth the 20-minute drive from Par.