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 with waterfalls. 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!
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.
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!
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.
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 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 options for those wanting to experience the natural side of Southern California.
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