Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park – Hiking the Edge of Suburbia

Hi, this is Chris.

Sometimes I just need to get out of my house…my head…put a little dirt under my feet…a little sweat…and a little trail chatter with my wife and 2 year old. I grew up in Suburbia…sometimes I need to hike to the edge of it…and take a deep breath.

Have you heard of Whiting Ranch? I hadn’t. But almost any O.C. resident remembers the Santiago fire from 2007 which happened to burn over 90% of the park. I watched the fire from the road, we got as close as we could but I had no idea it was charring this little spot.

Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is a 2500 acre park near the edge of Rancho Santa Margarita. It is an incredible spot for mountain biking and a fantastic location for hikers of all skill levels. Erin, Zephyr and I visited the park in November and put together a nice 6 mile out and back route.

Four Corners

Before I get into the details I will describe the area a bit. We visited about 4 days after a pretty good rain. I expected it to be muddy, but surprisingly it was firm. The trails were mostly hard pack, some muddy areas felt more like clay. There are sand washes that run with water at times. There is a lot of sage scrub and old oaks that have been burned, but are still alive. The single track is still wide enough for hikers and bikers. The area is in great shape and we probably saw 30-40 people in the 3 hours we were in the park.

This park is family friendly although I would recommend keeping your younger ones close. We saw a few mountain lion prints and scat. There are no dogs allowed. There are over 20 trails and 15+ miles to hike and bike.

Here are the details of the hike we pieced together:

Start Location: You can take the 241 and exit Alton. Go right and the small parking lot is on the left. If you see Target on the right you missed it.

Trail Route: Take “Borrego Canyon Trail” > Right on “Mustard Road” > Left on “Red Rock Canyon Trail” > At the end turn around > Left on “Mustard Road” > Follow to the top until you hit “Four Corners” > Turn around > Left onto “Borrego Canyon Trail”

Distance: 6 Miles

Elevation Gain: 750

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Kid/Family Friendly: Yes

 

Notes: