Cellular Service Difficulty PG Distance 2.1 to 5 miles Dogs allowed Hikes with free parking Puente Hills, Chino Hills & North Orange County Rating: 4-6 Season: All year

El Modena Open Space

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Hills in the El Modena Open Space
Wildflower in the El Modena Open Space

El Modena Open Space

  • Location: East end of the city of Orange.  From the 55 freeway, take the Chapman exit and go east for 2 miles.  Take a left on Cannon St. and go 1.3 miles.  Take a left on Patria Court and park on the side of the street.  Alternately, take the 91 freeway to Imperial Highway and drive south for 3.9 miles (Imperial becomes Cannon along the way) and turn right onto Patria Court.
  • Agency: Santiago Oaks Regional Park
  • Distance: 2.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 700 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 1 1/2 hours
  • Best season: All year (hot during the summer)
  • USGS topo map: “Orange”
  • Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield: Orange County
  • More information: here
  • Rating: 4

The El Modena Open Space is a compact little park where there are trails that offer both good workouts and good views.  As is often the case with hikes that are conveniently located, this trip suffers from the noise of nearby roads (the last mile of the loop is on Cannon Street), but there are a good variety of views, including most of northwest Orange County and the Santa Anas, and on clear days, Catalina, the Palos Verdes Peninsula, downtown L.A., the San Gabriels and even a little bit of the Santa Monica Mountains.

From Patria Court, look for a trail leading south alongside Cannon.  This trail quickly climbs, gaining about 400 feet in less than half a mile.  Along the way, you turn left and climb to the top of the ridge.  Here, you head south, past two trails that branch off toward the left and head down to Cannon.  After descending and climbing up two smaller hills, you reach a clearing, where you get a nice aerial view of the neighborhood below.  This makes a good turnaround point if you don’t want to loop back on the street.

To complete the loop, look for a trail descending steeply on the right, toward a school.  The trail curves around to meet a dirt road that leads back to Cannon St.  Walk the last mile on Cannon, climbing a little and then descending back to your starting point.

While not necessarily a “must do” Orange County hike, the El Modena loop is well worth visiting if you’re in the area.  It’s quick enough that it can be done either before or after work–and both sunsets and sunrises here are very enjoyable.

Text and photography copyright 2012 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities.  By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail.  Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.


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