When people talk about Orange County in Southern California, the first thing that comes to your mind is probably the famous theme park, Disneyland!
But guess what? Orange County has more to offer, with tons of beautiful beaches and great trails you can explore.
And what’s more, lots of them welcome dogs!
Now you don’t have to feel bad about leaving behind your furry friend anymore.
We’ve compiled some of the best dog-friendly hikes in Orange County, read on to find out!
1. Sitton Peak Trail
Sitton Peak stands 3,273 feet tall, located in the Santa Ana Mountain, and offers spectacular 360-degree views of Catalina Island, San Diego County, and Orange County.
This trail is about 9.5 miles round trip, and is not too hard until the last mile of the hike, which is a steep scramble. Make sure your dog is ready for this if you are going to take them up to the peak. Also, it has minimal to no shade and has no water along the trail, so remember to bring lots of water to keep both you and your pup hydrated!
2. Chiquito Falls
One best thing about this hike is that you get to see the beautiful Chiquito Falls at the end of the trail, and San Juan Falls on your way back, killing two birds with one stone. It is a 9.2-mile loop trail, a bit rocky, and can be a bit strenuous. Also, it has very little shade, so make sure to bring plenty of water.
3. Bell View Trail
Want a strenuous workout? Check out the Bell View Trail. It is a 9.4-mile loop trail with steep elevation gains and descents, and most importantly, you won’t get bored as the views are gorgeous. While the hike is challenging, you will be rewarded with great views of south Orange County once you get to the American flag placed at the peak.
4. Quail Hill Loop
Think the first three trails on this list are a bit tough? Then take a look at the Quail Hill Loop, a popular and beginner-friendly trail located near Irvine. This hike is only 1.8 miles, pretty easy and straightforward.
Note that it has no shade, make sure to go early or wear sunscreen, and there are rattlesnakes occasionally, so be careful.
5. Top of the World via Canyon Acres Trail
Another popular hiking spot in Orange County is the Top of the World via Canyon Acres Trail. It is 2.5 miles round trip, pretty short yet steep, but worth the effort as you will be getting panoramic 360-degree views at the top.
What’s more, there is a bench for you to catch your breath and enjoy the beauty of nature! From there, you will have views of Santiago Peak, Mount Baldy, and Catalina Island on a clear day.
6. Peters Canyon Loop Trail
Peters Canyon Loop Trail is heavily trafficked and has no shade, be sure to get there early with your furry friend to avoid the crowd and the heat. You will have lots of amazing views, especially the lake, which waterfowl will often swim on. Also, there are several ups and downs, and some parts are quite steep, so watch your footing.
7. Black Star Canyon
If you are seeking something more challenging, then check out the Black Star Canyon Trail. It is a 6.8-mile out-and-back trail, the first half is pretty easy, and the second half is essentially a rock and boulder scramble. While it might sound very hard, it is certainly doable for both you and your pooch. But you would probably want to build up your dog’s stamina and endurance first before you hit the trail.
Also, it is worth noting that the rocks are pretty sharp in the second half, so you may want to consider getting your four-legged friend a pair of high-quality hiking booties to protect their paws. Once you have made it to the end, you will see one of Southern California’s most beautiful waterfalls!
8. Bedford Peak
Bedford Peak can also offer a good workout for you and your dog as the trail climbs 2,000 feet in just 3.4 miles. Once you get to the summit, you will have 360-degree views of the entire region, and you will see Saddleback Mountain, Mount Baldy, and Catalina Island on a clear day. Again, this is another trail with no shade, so bring plenty of water.
9. Las Ramblas Trail
Want a short hike with spectacular views to start your day? Check out the Las Ramblas Trail, which is one of the best spots for sunrise and sunset hikes. It is 2.4 miles round trip, perfect for people of all skill levels, and is also an excellent place for training. Note that there will also be mountain bikers on this trail, so be careful.
10. San Clemente Beach Trail
Live in San Clemente and prefer to hike with your dog nearby? You can certainly do that thanks to this beachside trail, which starts from Calafia State Beach in the south to the North Beach Metro Station parking lot, or vice versa. It is essentially a flat trail, 4.5 miles round trip, making it very beginner-friendly.
11. Weir Canyon Trail
Another place that you can hike with your canine is the Weir Canyon Trail. On the summit, you will have great views of Mount Baldy, Weir Canyon, and Santiago Peak, also known as Saddleback Mountain. While the loop trail is not too long, there are lots of ups and downs, and a few steep uphills, which is why we rated it as moderate.
On a Final Note
Make sure to follow the leash rules, clean up after your dog, and respect other hikers on the trail. Also, you would probably want to take a look at the tips for hiking with your dog and the complete dog hiking gear list, especially if you are new to this. Lastly, if you live at a distance, check out the safety tips for driving with your pooch to keep them safe and comfortable while traveling to the trailhead. Hope you enjoy the hike, have fun, and remember to take plenty of photos!