Text and photography copyright 2011 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. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.
Nature Loop in the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve
- Location: Newport Beach. From route 73, take the Jamboree Rd. exit south for 2.3 miles and turn right on San Joaquin Hills Road. Turn right onto Back Bay Drive (one-way heading northbound), and in about half a mile, park on the left in a parking lot. From Pacific Coast Highway, go north on MacArthur for 0.9 miles and turn left on San Joaquin Hills Road, and go 1.4 miles. Take a right on Back Bay Drive.
- Agency: Upper Newport Bay Ecological Resreve
- Distance: 0.6 miles
- Elevation gain: Level
- Difficulty Rating: G
- Suggested time: 30 minutes
- Best season: Year round
- USGS topo map: “Newport Beach”
- More information: here
- Rating: 2
Like the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve farther up P.C.H., Newport Bay’s park gives O.C. residents a chance to see marshlands and a huge variety of water fowl up close. There are a variety of trails to explore in the reserve, and the short but sweet Nature Trail is worth a visit if you’re in the area.
From the parking lot, head north on Back Bay Drive, enjoying nice views of the wetlands on the left. You cross a bridge and soon will see the sign for the Nature Trail. The trail heads into a quiet, wooded area, crosses a boardwalk, and soon comes out on a dirt fire road. Take a right, and head back to the parking lot. You can extend your trip by walking south on Back Bay Drive, or taking a left on the fire road and exploring Big Canyon.