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Top Walking Trails In Irvine, CA

Everything You Need to Know About Irvine’s Best Walking Trails

By , 9:00 am on

The highly regarded city of Irvine has received many media honors. CNN Money Magazine has thrice ranked Irvine among the top 15 residential areas in the US. In 2011, BusinessWeek listed Irvine as number five. In 2014, 24/7 Wall Street praised Irvine as the best-run city in America. Distinguishing Irvine are its public schools, skilled workforce, safe streets, well planned housing, and–of course–Irvine’s lovely parks and trails. Welcome to an overview of the city’s most scenic footpaths.

Hicks Canyon Trail

Length - 2.25 miles, round-trip
Surface - Sections of sand, gravel, and asphalt
Rating - Easy
This is a short, picturesque trail along Hicks Canyon Wash, lined with trailside benches and Northwood homes on both sides. The terrain is mostly level, rising slightly as it approaches Portola Parkway, west of Jeffrey Road. Citrus Glen Neighborhood Park is at the upper end, with a restroom, drinking fountain, picnic tables, shade trees, tennis courts, and lovely landscaping. You’ll be elated by the stands of stately eucalyptus trees. Underpasses lead under streets, so the trail is free of vehicular intersections.

Horseshoe Loop Trail

Length - 3 miles, round-trip
Surface - Mostly sand, with an asphalt section
Rating - Easy

This trail traces the perimeter of Irvine Regional Park, with mostly level terrain. The route is wide, with some shade along the southern section. In the spring, wildflowers are plentiful. You’ll also see a vast variety of desert birds. About one mile in, you’ll reach a shady overlook, where you can rest on a bench and gaze at the sculpted Santa Ana Mountains. At 1.8 miles, take the fork to the right and head uphill. With this short detour, you can explore Rooster Rock, a sandstone outcropping with features resembling beaks and combs. At the top of the rock, you’ll get an eagle-eye view of the park. After heading back to the trail, you’ll climb a hillside to a junction with Toyon Trail. You can take this path to a shaded structure and then down a wooden staircase to the center of the park.

Venta Spur

Length - 3.3 miles, round-trip
Surface - Concrete
Rating - Easy
Originally a railway serving a citrus processing plant, this trail is beautifully landscaped. The western section is shaded, and the eastern portion has broad, open spaces. The trail spans two community parks, where you’ll find restrooms, picnic tables, and water. In between, you’ll find Northpark Square and Silkwood park. The corridor connecting them features a brook and majestic eucalyptus trees. Trailside lighting creates enchanting evening walks. As you head north, take a right at Jeffrey Road, where you can access the Jeffrey Open Space Trail, discussed below. If you remain on the Venta Spur, you’ll arrive at Woodbury East, a subdivision at the junction of Towngate and Crosspointe.

Jeffrey’s Open Space Trail

Length - 3.5 miles, round-trip
Surface - Asphalt and concrete
Rating - Easy
This trail has won awards for its ingenious design and spectacular landscaping. Narrative panels are inlaid at intervals along the trail. Historical notes on the panels highlight the 500-year history of Irvine Ranch. The panels at the southern section are engraved. Those at the northern segment are cast in colored tiles.

Paralleling Jeffrey Road, the route weaves through suburban neighborhoods and open space. At Bryan Avenue, it links with the Venta Spur. It also connects with four other Irvine trails. The trail delightfully serves a twofold function, as a linear park and outdoor museum. The concrete paneled pathway escorts you on a fascinating walk through time.

Shady Canyon Trail

Length - 5 miles, one-way and back
Surface - Packed dirt walking trail and paved bike trail
Rating - Challenging for the first hilly mile

This one-way, invigorating trail traverses Shady Canyon Drive. A paved, two-lane bike road parallels the footpath. The trail meanders through the grounds of a gated residential community. Traveling uphill, the route skirts Quail Hill Preserve and links to other Irvine trails. The views are most breathtaking where the trail crosses Bommer Canyon. Vistas include a lake, golf course, Turtle Ridge, and Shady Canyon homes. At the Bommer Canyon Trailhead, you’ll find picnic tables, restrooms, water, and a shaded porch. Your spirit will find rest as you gaze at the gently sloping hills while inhaling the sweet scent of sage.

Woodbridge Trail

Length - 2.2 miles, round-trip
Surface - Asphalt and concrete
Rating - Easy
This trail is short and sweet. It’s considered one of the most impressive in Irvine. At each bend in the route, you’re greeted with magnificent lake and mountain views. The path is popular with families. Bridges provide safe passage over parkways. Heading north, bike lanes on Yale Avenue bring you to the Walnut Trail. This parallels an active rail line and connects with Peters Canyon Trail.

Turtle Rock Trail

Length - 2.8 miles, round-trip
Surface - Concrete
Rating - Challenging
This trail is short and steep. It provides a serious aerobic workout en route to its highest point on Ridgeline Drive. Its spacious concrete surface is 11 feet wide. Gorgeous landscaping punctuates the trail, along with several parks. Two water fountains are strategically placed. Several benches set in alcoves give your calves a rest. Toward the trail’s end, you’ll pass tennis courts and arrive at the Woodbridge Village Shopping Center.

Irvine’s got a lot to offer in addition to its beautiful walking trails. If you’ve been thinking of buying a home for sale in Irvine, CA, check out our inventory online or give us a call at (714) 454-6304 and take the first step towards finding your dream home!

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