The Best Outdoor Activities in Orange County

Discover the best hiking, camping, backpacking, fitness, and more.

Swim at the Thousand Steps Pools

Orange County / Thousand Steps Beach

Driving down PCH southbound. Park at 9th street Laguna beach. You'l descend 219 stairs to be exact (feels like a 1,000). Once on the beach head to your left (south) until you come across a cave.

Connor Van Orden
1680 Saves

Exploring the Arches at Little Corona del Mar

Orange County / Little Corona del Mar Beach

Little Corona del Mar Beach is a secluded beach located on Poppy Avenue across Ocean Boulevard in Corona del Mar.

Tiffany Nguyen
1186 Saves

Explore Laguna Beach Caves

Orange County / Thousand Steps Beach

Explore some beautiful caves right on the beach in Laguna. The stairs leading down to the beach are just off the side of PCH at 9th st. You can park anywhere along the PCH on both sides near 9th st.

Eric Bennett
725 Saves

Exploring Pearl Street Beach's Arch Rock

Orange County / Pearl St. Beach

Pearl Street Beach is a great spot to just chill and watch (and photograph) the sunset with friends and family. Parking for the beach can be found on S. Coast Hwy (the 1) and is meter parking.

Ben Lertsakdadet
655 Saves

Bodysurf Thousand Steps Beach

Orange County / Thousand Steps Beach

Park at the intersection of Highway 1 and 9th Ave in Laguna Beach. Walk down the steps—there are more like 300 than 1000—and once you hit the beach, head south.

Kat Carney
575 Saves

Catch a Sunset at Newport Pier

Orange County / Newport Pier

Newport Pier is located just south of Huntington Beach at the center of the Balboa Peninsula. Balboa Pier, the more crowded pier of Newport Beach, is nearby to the south.

Tiffany Nguyen
471 Saves

Hiking Crystal Cove via the Loop Trail

Orange County / Loop Trail Trailhead

The trail begins and ends at the El Moro Visitor Center. Parking requires either a $15 day use parking pass, which is available in the visitor center.

Mariya Dondonyan
458 Saves

Hike to Santiago Peak via Holy Jim

Orange County / Holy Jim Trail

When you think of Orange County, you think of beaches, boardwalks, but what you may not know is that there are some great hikes in our very own backyard! My favorite is a fairly strenuous day hiking.

Andrew Saavedra
448 Saves

Explore the Seascape at Crescent Bay

Orange County / Crescent Bay

If you are in Southern California and want to find a good place to watch the sunset, this is the place.

Eric Bennett
404 Saves

Camping at Live Oak Grove

Orange County / Live Oak Grove Campground

Located within an hour's drive of Orange County and much of the Inland Empire, with dozens of trails winding through and above the beautiful and serene Bell Canyon.

Grant Nyquist
400 Saves

Discover the Laguna Beach's La Tour

Orange County / La Tour

To find this little hidden treasure, put Victoria Beach into your phone as your destination and park for free on S Coast Highway anywhere between Sunset Terrace, McAulay Place, or Victoria Drive.

Aubree Plodinec
396 Saves

Explore Tide Pools at Dana Point

Orange County / Ocean Institute

If you're ever driving on the 5 between San Diego and Los Angeles and traffic is miserable (always), consider making a stop at Dana Point to check out the tide pools.

Julie Cash
361 Saves

Hike-in Primitive Camping at Crystal Cove SP

Orange County / El Moro Canyon Trailhead

Located off of Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach is Crystal Cove State Park. There are three primitive sites located in Crystal Cove: Deer Canyon, Upper Moro, and Lower Moro.

Joshua Hernandez
360 Saves

Camp at San Mateo Campground

Orange County / San Mateo Campground

San Onofre State Beach, best known for its famous surf breaks, additionally offers two well equipped campgrounds.

Grant Nyquist
306 Saves

Boulder at Pirate's Cove

Orange County / Pirate's Cove, Newport Beach

This is a great spot for bouldering in Newport Beach, CA with really easy access from the parking lot at Big Corona Beach or street parking above on Ocean Blvd.

Brynn Schmidt
250 Saves

Photographing the Sun at Hilltop Park

Orange County / Hilltop Park

Hilltop Park is located in Signal Hill and offers an unmatched panoramic view of the Los Angeles Basin.

Tiffany Nguyen
248 Saves

Enjoy a Sunset Run at Crystal Cove

Orange County / Crystal Cove SP

This is a favorite evening run. Park in the lot with a state pass, head down the cliff and back, and you'll get an amazing workout. Tip: Time your runs at low tide.

Karen Heifferon
228 Saves

Hike the Hellman Park Trail

Orange County / Hellman Park Trail

This trail is great if you're looking for a quick, but intense workout. The hike itself is only 4 miles out- and-back and can be easily completed within a couple of hours.

Ben Lertsakdadet
227 Saves

Bodysurfing and Photography at The Wedge

Orange County / The Wedge

Beginning at the east end of the Balboa Peninsula The Wedge's main power house is the Newport Harbor Jetty. When the right south swell hits the jetty it reflects back creating a massive back wash.

Dane
225 Saves

Beach Day at San Onofre

Orange County / San Onofre

This spot is no secret but it’s by far one of the best beaches California has to offer and has been regarded since the 1950s as a friendly surfing sanctuary.

Scotti Shafer
217 Saves

Hike to Aztec Falls

Orange County / Splinters Cabin Day Use Area

From Lake Arrowhead, take the 173 to Hook Creek Road until you dead end onto Squint Ranch Road. Take a right at the first fork in the road, and park in the lot for Splinters Cabin.

Tori Marsh
152 Saves

Mountain Bike Car Wreck Trail through Aliso Canyon

Orange County / Car Wreck Trail

There are numerous ways to incorporate the Car Wreck trail into a larger loop through the Laguna Coast Wilderness and Aliso Canyon Park, but a common route is to begin at Alta Laguna Park at "Top of .

Josiah Roe
146 Saves

Hike the Water Tank Trail

Orange County / Water Tank Road

There a numerous trails in the Laguna Coast Wilderness that proceed up and along the ridges and down into the canyons (or the reverse), and most are excellent for hiking, trail running, and mountain .

Josiah Roe
144 Saves

Catch a Sunset at Sunset Beach in CA

Orange County / Sunset Beach (Anderson Street)

Sunset Beach is located just 9 miles south of Long Beach and 6 miles North of Huntington Beach, CA on the famous Pacific Coast Highway 1. I accessed Sunset Beach from the South on I-405.

Alex Anderson
142 Saves

Spend a Day at the Huntington Beach Pier

Orange County / Huntington Beach Pier

The Huntington Beach Pier is a great spot for a multitude of activities. If you're looking to bodysurf, surf, swim, jog, or just chill, this is the spot for you.

Ben Lertsakdadet
142 Saves

Hike to Holy Jim Falls

Orange County / Holy Jim Trail

To start, directions on how to get to the trail there are two different ways, the most common , which I will explain, being through Rancho Santa Margarita you will head east on Santa Margarita Parkwa.

Doug Hall
136 Saves

Backcountry Camp in Joshua Tree

Orange County / Twin Tanks Backcountry Station

Backcountry camping can be done at various locations throughout the park (13 different locations).

Lauren Schusterman
124 Saves

Ride the San Juan Trail

Orange County / Blue Jay Campground

The San Juan Trail is located off the Ortega Highway (Hwy 74) in Southern Orange County. It is done frequently as a long, 11 mile climb that is rewarded by an almost continuous descent of 3400ft.

Adam Franklin
102 Saves

Kayak the Laguna Beach State Marine Preserve

Orange County / Fisherman's Cove, Laguna Beach

Whether you're a beginning, intermediate, or advanced paddler, there are numerous ways to explore via sea kayak the protected waters off the coast of Laguna Beach.

Josiah Roe
90 Saves

Stand Up Paddle Dana Point Harbor

Orange County / Dana Point Harbor

Whether I’m looking for a quick workout on the water, wanting to catch some waves, or simply explore the coastline, Dana Point is one of my favorite places to paddle.

Scotti Shafer
86 Saves

Stand Up Paddle (SUP) in Huntington Harbor

Orange County / Huntington Harbor

Huntington Harbor is the perfect location for an easy and relaxing stand up paddle board session.

Sassy Resuello
74 Saves

Trail Run the Boat Road and Laguna Ridge

Orange County / Spur Ridge Trailhead

There a numerous trails in the Laguna Coast Wilderness that proceed up and along the ridges and down into the canyons (or the reverse), and most are excellent for trail running, hiking, and mountain .

Josiah Roe
69 Saves

Hike the Cougar Crest Trail

Orange County / Cougar Crest Trailhead

On the north side of Big Bear Lake, just off the 38, you will find a turn off for the Cougar Crest Trail. The parking lot is well marked, and signs for the trailhead are easy to spot.

Tori Marsh
68 Saves

Blackstar Canyon Falls

Orange County / Blackstar Canyon Trailhead

Waterfalls in Orange County are far and few between, with the best lying near and inside the Cleveland National Forest.

Doug Hall
63 Saves

Hike Willow Canyon, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

Orange County / Willow Staging Area

This hike has been a must do since I was young.

Doug Hall
62 Saves

Hike the Hidden Valley Nature Trail

Orange County / Hidden Valley Nature Trail

Turn off of Park Blvd near Intersection Rock (there will be signs for the turn) and follow the paved road for about a minute. There is a large parking lot with many picnic tables.

Mountain Bike Bommer Ridge & Emerald Canyon

Orange County / Emerald Canyon Road

There a numerous trails in the Laguna Coast Wilderness that proceed up and along the ridges and down into the canyons (or the reverse), and are quite popular for mountain biking, hiking, and trail ru.

Josiah Roe
57 Saves

Hike to Dripping Cave in the Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness

Orange County / Aliso and Wood Canyon Wilderness Park

Dripping Cave sits tucked away in a corner of Wood Canyon, part of the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, and the trail to the cave, while short, requires *at least* a 2.

Josiah Roe
57 Saves

Climb Aliso Peak via the Valido Trail

Orange County / Valido Trail

The Valido Trail trailhead can be found just off West street off the Pacific Coast Highway, just south of Aliso Beach. Park on West Street past the trailhead. The trail proceeds approximate .

Josiah Roe
48 Saves

Visit Historic Pioneertown

Orange County / Pioneertown

Here in California we have a lot of desert to sift through. When trying to figure out how to navigate the mass, you have to know the places worth fighting the brutal heat or chilling cold.

Torrey Schaefer
48 Saves

Hike the Dreaded Hill Loop in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park

Orange County / Dreaded Hill Loop Parking Lot

One of the great things about Whiting Ranch is the trail system branches off and reconnects in several places, so you can make your adventure as long or as short as you like.

Julie & Brian
44 Saves

Watch the Sunset from Echo Rock

Orange County / Echo Rock Parking

Park your car at the Echo Rock Parking Area.  The trail starts next to the outhouse and heads north.

Breanne McNitt
38 Saves

Hike the B.F.I. Trail in Crystal Cove State Park

Orange County / B.F.I.

To get to the trailhead, enter Crystal Cove State Park through the Crystal Cove El Moro Campground entrance immediately next to El Moro Elementary School.

Josiah Roe
37 Saves

Hike the Split Rock Trail

Orange County / Split Rock Trail

From Park Blvd you'll turn off onto a dirt road labelled with signs for Split Rock. At the end of the road there is a round about with parking and picnic tables.

Camp at Holcomb Valley Campground

Orange County / Holcomb Valley Campground

This campground is awesome! With great views, plenty of space and clean bathrooms it'll have you in for a treat! Whether it be a multiple day trip or just one night this campground is awesome.

Doug Hall
23 Saves

Off-Road Jacoby Canyon

Orange County / Jacoby Canyon Trailhead

This is now my favorite trail in the San Bernardino National Forest.

Doug Hall
22 Saves

Climb at Intersection Rock in Joshua Tree

Orange County / Intersection Rock Parking Lot

Intersection Rock is located in the Hidden Valley Campground with lots of parking! Overhang bypass route5.

Rayne Grein
18 Saves

Backpack the California Riding and Hiking Trail in Joshua Tree

Orange County / Black Rock Campground

The starting point for this hike is at the Black Rock campground, 5 miles from the town of Yucca Valley. You'll need to self register for a free backcountry permit before starting.

Bradley Burgess
18 Saves

Rock Climb at Headstone Rock in Joshua Tree

Orange County / Headstone Rock

To find this climb, park on the east side loop of the Ryan Campground in the park. There are several parking spots here next to a bathroom.

Brynn Schmidt
16 Saves

Run the Carriage Trail

Orange County / Carriage Trail

There is room to park just off San Timoteo Road. On the other side of the trail is more parking off Alessandro. You can park your car on either side and start your run/walk/bike ride.

Christian Soto
15 Saves

Relax on Eureka Peak

Orange County / Eureka Peak

Accessing Covington Flats in Joshua Tree National Park requires a high ground-clearance overland vehicle. Bring spare water and emergency tools incase of a breakdown.

Michael Wigle
13 Saves

Surf Brooks Street Beach

Orange County / Brooks Street

Brooks Street Beach is just a couple of blocks off the Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach. Parking can be tricky, so be forewarned that you may need to walked a few blocks.

Josiah Roe
10 Saves

Photograph the Pacific Coast Highway over Crystal Cove Beach

Orange County / Pacific Coast Highway Turnoff

To get to the bluffs overlooking Crystal Cove State Park Beach to the south, you'll need to pull off onto the side of the Pacific Coast Highway *before* Morro Ridge Road.

Josiah Roe
10 Saves

Snowshoe to Grand View Point

Orange County / Aspen Glen Picnic Area

Grand View Point is accessed via Pine Knot Trail, a 6.5 mile out and back hiking trail located at the Aspen Glen Picnic Area, 1 mile from Big Bear Village.

Hike the Covington Crest Trail

Orange County / Covington Crest Trail

Accessing Covington Flats in Joshua Tree National Park requires a high ground-clearance overland vehicle. In the summer months a standard car might make it to the parking lot after the 7.

Michael Wigle
9 Saves

Mountain Bike Bommer Ridge from the Pacific Ridge Trailhead

Orange County / Laguna Coast Wilderness, Pacific Ridge Trailhead

The Bommer Ridge West Trailhead aka The Pacific Ridge Trailhead begins at the edge of Ridge Park Road, overlooking CA State Highway 73, and marks the northwest entrance to the Laguna Coast Wilderness.

Josiah Roe
9 Saves

Scramble Cornell Peak

Orange County / Palm Springs Aerial Tram

Entering Mt San Jacinto State Park via the Palm Springs Aerial Tram is one of the easiest ways to get into the wilderness area.

Matt Huber
9 Saves

Photograph the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve

Orange County / Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve

The Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve is one of our favorite spots to capture the sunset against the backdrop of the Santa Anna Mountains.

Julie & Brian
6 Saves

Hike the Quail Hill Loop

Orange County / Quail Hill Trailhead

The Quail Hill loop is a short and easily accessible hike in the Irvine Open Space Preserve. This makes it a great place to escape for a quick sunset hike after work, or at the end of a busy weekend.

Julie & Brian
5 Saves

Hike Teutonia Peak in Mojave National Preserve

Orange County / Teutonia Peak Trail

Teutonia Peak is a rocky 5,755-foot mountain on the edge of Cima Dome in the north east section of Mojave National Preserve.

Matt Purciel
2 Saves