Discover the Best Waterfall Hikes in Orange County

What comes to mind when you think of Orange County? Most probably picture sprawling beaches dotted with volleyball players, people tanning on the sand, and tons of fantastic restaurants and shopping. While our coastal paradise has all of those things, it may surprise you that there are plenty of hikes in Orange County. Some of them even have waterfalls! We have started from the hikes farther away with waterfalls and work back to Newport Beach with hikes a little closer to the coast. These incredible adventures are great ways to get out and explore the lesser-traveled areas of the famed county. So, lace up your hiking boots and grab your backpack, because it’s time to hit the trails!

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6 Hikes in Orange County with Waterfalls

The best time to enjoy one of these hikes in Orange County with waterfalls is in the spring when Southern California sees most of its rain. Be sure to check the weather forecasts during your trip to plan hikes after rainy days for the best results.

Ortega FallsOrtega Falls

Head for Ortega Falls if you want to escape the crowds near Newport Beach. This is a very easy hike to a waterfall on the edge of Orange County. It’s less than a half-mile from the parking area, making it a great trip for everyone in your group. The drive from Newport Beach is almost an hour, but the stunning waterfall and surrounding boulders are well worth it.

Black Star Canyon

Black Star Canyon offers one of the best hikes in Orange Country with waterfalls. This 7.5-mile roundtrip trek is a hidden gem in Southern California. You can access the Black Star Canyon Trailhead from Santiago Canyon Road, which is about a 40 to 45-minute drive from Newport Beach. From there, you will see plenty of beautiful scenery. The waterfall at the end is incredible, especially if it rains in the days prior to your hike!

Falls Canyon 

If you really want to get off the grid during your trip, Falls Canyon is the spot for you. Trabuco Canyon Trail is less than a mile long, but it packs in plenty of incredible nature. The tall cascading falls at the end of the trail make this one of the top hikes in Orange County with waterfalls. 

Tip: The road to the small parking area is full of potholes and has very few signs, so it can be tricky to find. Also, wildfires may cause infrequent closures.

Dana Point Seasonal Waterfall

The Dana Point Seasonal Waterfall may not offer the serene, natural setting that others on this list do, but it makes up for that in wow factor. Located across the street from the Dana Point Harbor, this little-known spot features a strong flow of water down a towering cliffside following a hard rain. Even if the waterfall isn’t flowing during your trip, the paths at the top of the cliff offer sensational views.

Chiquito FallsChiquito Falls

You’ll find the trailhead to Chiquito Falls down the road from Ortega Falls. This nine-mile out-and-back trail is very popular and features a moderate difficulty level. The views and rock climbing around the falls are fantastic, especially if it recently rained.

Tenaja Falls

Tenaja Falls offers some of the best views from any waterfall in Orange County. The roundtrip hike is only one and a half miles and is great for all hiking abilities. It’s an excellent day trip option for those wanting to experience the natural side of Southern California.



Hikes Closer to Newport Beach

If you’re looking for hikes that are a little closer to Newport Beach, there are hidden gems within the area! While these hikes don’t have waterfalls, they offer short commute time and beautiful bay views! These are the perfect hikes to enjoy before starting your day. Bring the kids, bring your furry friends and take in all the natural beauty of the Newport Beach area!

Back Bay Loop Trail

The Back Bay Loop Trail hike is only 12 minutes from Newport Beach and offers an easy and relaxing way to spend the afternoon! Visitors come to this lake for bird watching, biking, or casually strolling along the trail.  Bring the entire family and take in the natural beauty of the area. You can even bring your furry friend, be sure to bring a leash too!

Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve LoopNewport Bay Ecological Loop

Another close hiking opportunity is the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve Loop. This hike is also very scenic and offers views of the back bay. Enjoy walking along the bay and the bluff for unique and photo-worthy moments! This hike is also easier, so it’s ideal for a relaxing afternoon.

Canyon Park and Talbert Regional Park

Getting out and enjoying the greenery of the Newport Beach area is easy at Canyon Park and Talbert Regional Park. Walking, hiking, biking, or observing nature are all great activities to enjoy. The best part is that this park is a short 12-minute drive from the Balboa Pier, so you can hike in the morning and hit the beach right afterward!

Plan Your Orange County Adventure


Burr White is your key to the ultimate Southern California adventure. Browse our collection of properties to find your perfect home away from home. Whether you need a small beach cottage for a weekend away or a large house for a family reunion, we have the perfect home for you. Don’t forget to check out our Things to Do page and blog for more trip ideas!

Start planning your trip today by booking one of our homes. We look forward to welcoming you to the Burr White Realty family.