Irvine RP Perimeter loop (dayhike)

Trip Date: 1/10/2015 

Location: Irvine Regional Park

Permit/Pass: Day use - $3 weekdays, $5 weekends.

Trails: OC Parks Map

Directions: From either California TR 261 or California TR 241 in Orange Country take the Santiago Canyon Rd. (also Chapman Rd.) exit and head northwest for a bit over a mile to a right turn onto Jamboree Rd. Drive 0.3 miles on Jamboree as it veers right and turns into Irvine Park Rd. Continue through the kiosk and turn right (follow the signs for the railroad). After a few yards veer right and follow the park road for 0.7 miles to a left turn into parking lot 13.

Synopsis: Irvine Regional Park is a nice place for family activities. The hiking opportunities are short and mostly flat, but this trip puts together a route that circumnavigates the park, and throws in some nice views at the end.

Trail sequence: Horseshoe Loop trail / Santiago Creek trail / Horseshoe Loop / Puma Ridge trail

Type: Loop

Distance: 3.6 miles

Elevation: Min. -  547', Max. - 813'


Rating: Easy-Moderate (factors: one steep section, heat)

Trail Notes: Don't expect a wilderness experience here, but if the kids and grandparents are taking in the zoo or the railroad, there are a few trails to enjoy.


Perimeter loop - Irvine Regional Park

Turn by Turn:

  -- The hike begins on pavement as you follow the park road (be sure to watch for the Horseshoe Loop markers, and veer left at the first split), first northeast, then circling north and eventually west.

  -- After a half-mile or so the path leads up and off to the right (northwest) onto dirt trail.

  -- Veer right at the first fork in the trail for a short detour up over a low hill. Turn right (west) upon returning to the main trail.

  -- Continue on as the trail trends northwest, passing a spur off to the left.

  -- Again, continue straight at the next junction (a left spur heading down the hill and back to the east).

  -- Soon the trail works through a confusion of spurs and dirt tracks as it turns southwest to head downhill toward the road, eventually leveling out for a short distance and then crossing seasonal Santiago Creek.

  -- After leaving the creek bed turn right onto Santiago Creek trail and follow it as it heads west, then south around the west side of the park. Stay right on Santiago Creek trail at the fork (Horsehoe Loop is on the left).

  -- As you approach the road the trail forks again, with the right path heading up (toward Peters Canyon) to a gate. Take the narrower left fork, which puts you back onto Horseshoe Loop trail.

  -- Continue on Horseshoe Loop as it first parallels the park road, then crosses and ascends a couple of switchbacks to a junction with Puma Ridge trail. Stay straight (right) on Puma Ridge.

  -- Follow Puma Ridge as it climbs, then bends to the southeast and grazes a ridge with great views of the park and to the north.

  -- After 3/4 mile or so the trail veers to the northeast and begins to descend, steeply at times. After several switchbacks the path meets an access road. Turn left (north) on the pavement and cross the road to return to parking lot 13 and your car.